Research acknowledges reality and importance of After-Death Communication
The Compassionate Friends (TCF) is a charitable organisation of bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents dedicated to the support and care of other similarly bereaved family members who have suffered the death of a child or children of any age and from any cause. TCF has no religious affiliation and offers support to bereaved families irrespective of the age of the child, cause of death, ethnic, social or political background.
TCF has been the subject of an in-depth study led by Dennis Klass, Professor of Psychology at Webster University in St Louis, Missouri, US. In his paper, Prof Klass provides a subdued, tongue-in-cheek but altogether very significant acknowledgement of the reality and importance of after-death communication for bereaved parents in particular. He writes:
There has been a development within the group over the 10 years of our study in the way experiences that fall outside the socially sanctioned reality are brought into the group. Early in the study, the group did not have a language to talk about these phenomena, and the attempts to share were often very tentative. As the study progressed, such experiences were integrated into the shared beliefs of the group. At the same time, there was a steady stream of discussion in the popular culture about near-death experiences and, to a lesser extent, post-death contact. Now, the experiences are routinely reported and integrated into the group’s fund of knowledge about grief. The group maintains the Compassionate Friends principle of not holding to any doctrinal position, yet at the same time it validates the experiences by saying that the experiences are real, but are different for different people and that what is learned in the experience is for the parent, not for everyone. Nearly every year, one meeting is devoted to these experiences and several members have become well read on the topic. At national and regional meetings, sessions on non-ordinary experiences are well attended.
I salute Prof Klass for having the courage to mention all that. Although he obviously squirms and uses contorted definitions such as “experiences that fall outside the socially sanctioned reality” and “non-ordinary experiences”, he at least talks about what is a common experience and an extraordinary source of comfort for so many people.
More squirming, and yet more tongue-in-cheek acknowledgements at the end of the paper:
The phenomena that indicate active interaction with the inner representation of the dead child – a sense of presence, hallucinations (though the parents may argue that “hallucinations” is an inappropriate word here), belief in the child’s continued and active influence on thoughts and events […] are no longer occasions for the parents’ concerns about their sanity.