Ryan Jones Blog – dotCULT.com Ryan Jones Blogs About Internet Culture, Marketing, SEO, & Social Media

May 9, 2009

Do You Talk To Dead People?

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 5:03 pm

Amaraji I couldn’t help but think about funerals and cemeteries lately. At least in America, it’s pretty custom for grievers to approach the corpse in the casket and say some words to the deceases. I did it recently at my grandfather’s funeral – and later at one of my old hockey coaches. I’m sure you’ve all done it too – you thank them for all they’ve done and tell them how much you love them and will miss them. It’s completely normal.

It’s also normal to visit them in the cemetery from time to time and visit. My mom and grandmother regularly visit my grandfather’s headstone, and I’ve been known to do it from time to time. It’s normal right?

Then I started thinking about it from a purge rational standpoint. Given my current belief system, I’m pretty damn sure all that time I was just talking to myself. There’s no way any of them actually heard me – they’re dead. In fact, if I were talking to a dead person anywhere else other than the cemetery – say perhaps at a coffee shop – everybody within earshot would probably think I’m crazy?

So why do we do it? Why do most people continue to have conversations with people who not only can’t respond, but can’t hear you either?

Sure, there’s religious reasons here, but those aren’t good enough to answer the question. Besides, even thinking that our loved ones would be sitting up in heaven watching our every move is pretty selfish. What makes us that important?

Let’s entertain the idea that heaven actually exists. If I were to suddenly die and go to heaven the first thing I’d do would be to re-unite with my parents and grandparents. I’d then probably throw back a few beers with Sinatra and then finally figure out whether or not all dogs actually go to heaven. Sure, given the possibility, I’d check in on people here on earth – but I’d be more concerned with living in paradise than following what’s happening down here. Besides, they’d make it up there eventually anyway.

From a pure logical standpoint, it’s pretty certain that any time spent talking to the dead is just time spent talking to ourselves – so why do we do it?

We do it because it’s comforting and often times helpful. Talking to the deceased forces us to answer our own questions from their point of view. In a way, it’s very similar to praying. When we ask for God’s advice we’re not really hearing God, we’re putting ourselves in God’s shoes and looking at ourselves through a religious point of view. (no, not the AL Bundy invented ones with individual toes – I’m speaking metaphorically here.)

The same goes for our loved ones. We’d all like dearly to forgive ourselves for something or other, and we all know that grandma would have forgiven us no matter what – so we speak to grandma and then imagine ourselves as her telling us everything is OK. When we’re proud of something we tell grandpa about it and imagine him saying “that a boy” as he pats us on the back. We use our memories of our loved ones to conjure up images of them acting how we perceived them. It’s comforting.

So does talking to deceased loved ones make us crazy, or is it simply a coping method that we have to help us deal with life’s ups and downs?


  1. I was expecting you to turn this into an SEO themed post all the time I was reading it, but you didn’t!

    Bit of classic dotCULT slipping in there? 😉

    Comment by Alexander — May 19, 2009 @ 9:15 am

  2. Heh, ya i know right? I’ve been longing to do an old school dotcult post for a while now, but nobody seems to read them and I never have the time to write them.

    Damn this web 2.0 stuff.

    Comment by Ryan — May 19, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

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