Why Do Ghosts Haunt Us?
Haunted by Ghosts
The belief in ghosts and the wayward spirits of the dead is prevalent in most cultures around the world and dates back to ancient times. Certainly we can imagine good reasons our ancestors may have invented the idea that people linger beyond the grave.
Anyone who loses a loved one goes through a traumatic period of mourning, and the thought that our dear departed might still live on in one form or another can provide solace from a purely psychological point of view.
Such is the position of the unbeliever, and the debate over whether or not ghosts really exist is a matter for another article. However, for the purpose of this article, let’s proceed with the assumption that ghosts exist and they really do haunt us sometimes. If we accept that to be true, the next question is obvious:
Certainly you have heard your share of ghost stories in your lifetime. If you feel like you’ve missed something, take a few moments to check out the television listings and you can find plenty of shows about the paranormal.
If you want to, you can watch hours upon hours of programming each week dedicated to ghost stories, haunting and the like. Some of these tales are pretty incredible, but many have evidence to back them up.
If these stories are true, even some of them, we have to wonder what the heck ghosts are doing. Why do they bother haunting us, and to what end? Why don’t they simply move on, or at the very least mind their own business?
Do ghosts choose to be here? Are they trapped? Is there something more to the spirit world that we have not considered? Are ghosts not what they seem?
Of course nobody knows, but that doesn’t stop us from wondering. In this article you’ll read about a few theories that may explain why ghosts insist on being so bothersome.
Fear of the Afterlife
Many people reason that spirits cling to this world because they are afraid to move on to whatever is next. That makes sense when you think about it. After all, we really have no way of knowing what happens to us when we die.
Many cultures believe judgment of some type awaits us after death. Depending on how you lived your life, the ultimate thumbs up/thumbs down awaits you when you die. Some people may not be so keen on facing it just yet.
Most of us who live in societies based on the Judeo-Christian ethic have an awareness of the Biblical concept of what comes after death. In other words, failing post-mortem judgment means you end up in that H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks place.
Go into the light? Nope. I’ll stay right here, thank you.
Whatever really awaits us after death it makes sense that those who lived in a culture that promised joy and happiness in the next life, rather than one that promised judgment, would be less likely to linger in this world.
Ghosts are Confused
In the movie Beetlejuice the afterlife is depicted as complicated and boring and governed by obscure rules. While the truth is probably nothing of the sort, it is easy to imagine that a recently deceased human being would be fairly confused about what exactly they are supposed to do next.
Those who go peacefully and have accepted death may have an easier time moving on, but for people who pass away suddenly or by some violent means it may be a different story. For them, it may take a long while even to realize they are dead. There may be a sense of denial, especially for those who really don't believe in life after death.
It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to realize you are ghost, and kind of comical in a way. Still, it must be traumatic to go from living to not-so-much living. What do you do next? What if someone sees you? How long will you be here? What are the rules, anyway?
Ghost Hunters Investigates a Haunting
A spirit left behind would have a lot of time on his hands, and a lot to think about. How would you handle it?
If you have a clear view of the living world you would witness the lives of people as they grew older, shared time with their families, experienced joy and did all the things you used to do, back before you died.
How long would it take until you became jealous, angry and resentful of the living? Do you think you’d have the fortitude to remain a friendly ghost as the decades rolled by, with generations of people passing through your former home? Would you torment the living just for spite, or try to chase them from your house?
Even if you managed to remain pleasant about the whole after-death thing, you’d probably get a little bored. If you realized you could scare people a little bit, would you do it just for fun? Would you try to communicate?
Of course this doesn’t explain why ghosts are here, but boredom and anger are pretty good explanations for why they do what they do.
How Would You Haunt Someone?
If you end up a ghost someday what will be your plan?
Spirits with Unfinished Business
Some ghosts may hesitate to move on from this world simply because they aren’t done living yet. The reasons could range from avenging their own murder, to protecting a loved one who is still alive. These spirits believe they still have more to do in this life, and so they remain.
It’s nice to think that once they perceive their job to be finished they would move on and find peace, but in some cases their “unfinished business” may extend outside the bounds of their control.
Some religions and cultures believe in curses that can doom a person to walk this world forever, or become trapped in a specific situation after death.
Whatever the reason, some spirits may be waiting for a trigger or an event of some kind to occur before they can move on. In some cases, if we are able to figure it out, we may be able to help them.
Sometimes they are on their own, and in other unfortunate cases they may be doomed.
The World Beyond the Grave
So far we’ve examined the spirit world with the assumption that there is someplace ghosts would rather be, if they could only get there. Some people call it Heaven, or maybe something else, but many people believe there is a postmortem prize for people who lived good lives.
But what if that’s not true? What if the afterlife is so bizarre that we can hardly fathom it, a hodgepodge of lost energy, fragmented minds and semi-lucid spirit beings.
Worse still, perhaps there is some kind of pecking order after death, and spirits that are able to grow stronger are able to dominate the newly deceased and others. These more powerful spirits are the ones we are aware of, while the weaker ones remain silent.
Seems weird, but I base this theory on an Ouija Board session I experienced long ago. According to the entity we contacted, it sounds like life beyond death is something akin to entering a maximum security prison. Only the strong survive.
As an interesting aside: Because of some chilling threats made by the spirit entity during this Ouija session, I decided never to touch a spirit board again!
What If Ghosts Were Never Human?
Finally, is it possible we don’t live on beyond death at all, in any form? Or, as some religions believe, is it possible that human spirits end up in either Heaven or Hell, but never remain as ghosts?
Here things get a little confusing. Remember we started this discussion with the premise that ghosts exist. So if ghost aren’t the remnants of deceased humans, what are they and what do they want?
Almost any answer will do here. Aliens? Interdimensional beings? Time travelers? Who knows? However, there is one theory that allows many people to maintain a traditional view of spirits and the afterlife:
Ghosts are demons.
If ghosts are malevolent entities and not people we can imagine a whole bunch of reasons for why they are here. For one, if demons really are agents of evil battling God for our souls, then it makes sense that they would try to confuse and confound us about what happens to us after we die.
One way of doing this would be to masquerade as human spirits. The more confused we get about this Heaven and Hell thing, the more likely we are to abandon God.
Another reason may be simply to torment us. I sometimes wonder how many people who claimed they were tormented by demons and ended up with a psyche diagnosis were telling the truth, and driven to insanity by evil forces.
Whatever they are up to, if ghosts are demons they are certainly not on our side.
The Mystery of the Supernatural
I hope this rambling and semi-cohesive article on ghosts and why they haunt us provided some food for thought. Whatever theory you believe is correct, I think it is always important to keep an open mind about such things.
The bottom line when it comes to the supernatural is that we just don’t know. All we can do is look at the available evidence, try to decide what makes sense, and form our own opinions and theories. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that every one of us is going learn the truth someday.
What awaits us beyond the grave? Eventually, we all find out.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.