Apparition is a common term used by paranormal investigators to describe a sighting of a ‘spirit’. While there are common associations we all make with this term, it may surprise you to know that there are several categories under this word. While a lot of people think of a ‘spirit’ to be a see-through opaque view of a person, there is no one size fits all when it comes to these kinds of experiences. Sometimes, the apparition is not even a ‘spirit’ but a living person from another location. The question of course becomes not why are we seeing them, but how?
And thus, absurdly enough, we sometimes hear men ridicule the phenomena which actually do happen, simply because those phenomena do not suit their preconceived notions of what ghostly phenomena ought to be;
FREDERIC W. H. MYERS
‘Human personality and its survival of of bodily death’
Commonly, you will hear people refer to a full-bodied apparition, which basically appears as a solid person. It is almost like there is a real person standing in front of them. These are often reported during the day and people describe a person dressed in period clothing and often mistake them as a volunteer if they are at a historical location. There are also reported to be what is called partial apparitions where a person will see only part of a body such as a head or an arm, such as a hand appearing out of a cupboard, or even just seeing a head and shoulders. You then have what is called a transparent apparition. This matches what is probably the most widely conceived consensus of what a ‘spirit’ would look like. It is either a mist in the shape of a human form or a human form that is ‘see-through’. Less commonly, there are also what are called crisis apparitions.
What is a crisis apparition?
A crisis apparition is a sighting of a person that is near death or in some sort of critical situation. Of course they are not really there in person, they appear in the form of an apparition, often as a form of vision or in a dream. In the book, ‘Human personality and its survival of bodily death‘ by FREDERIC W. H. MYERS, there are many documented cases of people who were visited in dreams by a friend or a family member in the hours directly before or directly after their death in a sort of warning that something was wrong. The witness at the time was not aware of the friend or family member passing shortly before or after. These apparitions have appeared to people both while conscious and in other cases in dreams. It could be argued that the dream was more precognition than a visitation but the outcome, in any case, was the same. They saw the form of a person who was very near to death and then died shortly afterwards. It is seen by many as a type of warning.
We gradually discovered that the accounts of apparitions at the moment of death—testifying to a supersensory communication between the dying man and the friend who sees him—led on without perceptible break to apparitions occurring after the death of the person seen, but while that death was yet unknown to the percipient, and thus apparently due, not to mere brooding memory, but to a continued action of that departed spirit.
FREDERIC W. H. MYERS
Other sightings have been within the 12-hour period after death which is also described as post-mortem apparitions.
Here are some of the accounts published in Myer’s book which is also available free to read via public domain here.
While some experiences include visions, others are simply a voice of a loved one.
Of course, Myers is not the only researcher to theorise on this phenomenon, it has been researched and discussed widely for decades. In fact, famous singer Billy Holiday seemed to have her own experience with a crisis apparition just by feeling a presence.
‘I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits, but I believe what happened that night…We were just sitting there when suddenly I felt my mother come up behind me and put her hand on my shoulders. And I knew she was dead. I turned to Joe. “Mama just left and she’s dead,” I told him.
“You’re crazy,” he told me. “You must be blowing your top.”
“You listen to what I said,” I told him, “and g*ddamnit, you better be good to me because you’re all I’ve got now.”
Holiday’s mother had not been ill and was only 38, so there was no expectation that she was going to die. The next morning, Holiday noticed that everyone was acting strangely around her. She went up to the road manager and “told him Mama was dead and what time she died the night before…He blew his top, raised hell with everybody backstage. He swore somebody must have told me. But nobody had told me nothing.”
While some skeptics argue that when we look back for ‘signs’ we incorrectly tie in memory or dream as a form of coping with grief, maybe we have more of a connection to our loved ones than what Science can understand. Maybe these sightings, visions or feeling are really our intuition when a piece of our heart in the form of a loved one passes away. Maybe we have some sort of telepathic connection with those that we love.
“Love doesn’t die with death. Love is like liquid; when it pours out, it seeps into others’ lives. Love changes form and shape. Love gets into everything. Death doesn’t conquer all; love does. Love wins every single time. Love wins by lasting through death. Love wins by loving more, loving again, loving without fear.”
― Kate O’Neill
I would love to hear your thoughts!
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