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"It Must Have Been Granny 'Saying Hello'"

merricat

confused particle
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Aug 2, 2013
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558
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This is a particular type of 'paranormal' or Fortean category that has often left me a little non-plussed, possibly due to it being so open to interpretation that it might fit more comfortably in The Human Condition than the Ghosts forum.
Most of these reports run along very similar lines in terms of what occurred, with a rather simplified set of criteria.

For example (pulling these out of a hat here): "Granny passed away two weeks ago and after her funeral we were all sat around remembering her one evening when a mirror just slid off the wall without the fixture experiencing any damage. We think it was Granny saying hello and telling us she was alright".

Or "Our father passed in 2005 and on the night of the anniversary a few years later a bottle of beer shot off the mantelpiece and cracked. We know it was dad telling our eldest brother to cut down his drinking and that he was ok".

I am open minded in these matters and have no fixed idea of how 'reality' ought to play out. But it's the over simplification of these types of phenomena which often puzzle me. Wishful thinking, perhaps? But if so, why would we interpret something this way? Occasionally there's a related story that has at least some resonance; a lady I worked for a few decades ago once told me that her late father had appeared to her, briefly, as a robin. I had the impression that she felt a strong connection to the bird or an 'understanding' had passed between them in that fleeting moment, which at least renders this story a tad less simplified and more heartfelt. But the majority of the 'just saying hello' or 'telling us she was ok' accounts strike me as a simple bias that might be more appropriately interpreted as 'we really really want it to be granny saying hello, even though we haven't the foggiest!'

These simplified stories tend to lack critical thinking in their interpretation rather than the details themselves. So I suppose I am talking about how our own education/background/beliefs will always colour how we relate to and share such experiences. Similarly, if the above accounts happened to me, I might be more inclined to ascribe it to accident on the one hand, or to an entity or poltergeist on the other. The "We could smell his pipe smoke" and "her strong perfume filled the room" might also slot into the same category, although they at least describe a more literal connection to the deceased. Finding a 'feather' at a poignant moment might fit into this 'genre' too, to some extent. My sister has experienced many a feather, along with spectral lights at the cemetery and glowing angels in her doorway on waking. She isn't at all religious but does believe in some sort of mysterious 'kindly god' and afterlife.

These are just ideas to play with, so I have no conclusions, but I would be interested to know what others think. I would never presume myself into the position of telling anyone whether their lived experiences are real or not, but I am fascinated by such patterns of belief simply because they differ to my own. I have a handful of lost loved ones and have experienced a good deal of Fortean oddities in my time, but apart from perhaps the very rare yet powerful dream, I have no idea if any of my dear departed have been trying to say hello to me or attempted to cryptically rearrange my odds and ends. Well not yet, anyway.
 
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My uncle died a few years back and he was well known for his sense of humour and being the family joker. I was helping my cousin and his son clear out my uncle's house and we were talking about how he was always playing pranks and at that point, all the lights flickered off and on a few times. We all looked at each other and burst out laughing. Might have been dodgy electrics but it cheered us up.
 
Grief hardwires you to look for signs, I guess. And sometimes, not-grief, when someone you didn't particularly like dies (like, my mother in law).

It's mathematical - just statistically likely - that you see a robin, or a picture falls down, or whatever - and sometimes those things happen around the time of a death, so your brain just goes there?

Have posted before the weird one re my mother in law. She knew I hated pigeons. The day after she died and for a Christlike (or fairytale) three days, a pigeon appeared on my windowsill, it's face almost plastered against the glass (ie: peering right in at us) and there it sat all day. It wasn't afraid of us. It wouldn't be shooed away. This was my living room window so downstairs and at the back of our house. It wasn't just "a bird sitting on a windowsill that's a bit tame so won't be scared away". Birds on windowsills tend to face outwards. This thing was facing in. I just shut the blinds in the end.

I think I associated it with her because she knew I hated pigeons but also she was nosy as owt. She'd come to our house and literally just walk into the kitchen and rifle through the cupboards. I once left some stuff at her's in a closed box when we were made homeless in the early 80s and when we arrived, unexpectedly, found her up to her elbows in my knickers etc that were in the box. She was overtly in your business, constantly.

What would she logically do if she could, after death? Finally get to stand on my windowsill with her face pressed against the glass.

Three days and then it vanished and we never saw it again.

I still think it was sheer coincidence and nothing paranormal but my mind instantly went there that this nosy, ugly bird was... her.
 
This is a particular type of 'paranormal' or Fortean category that has often left me a little non-plussed, possibly due to it being so open to interpretation that it might fit more comfortably in The Human Condition than the Ghosts forum.
Most of these reports run along very similar lines in terms of what occurred, with a rather simplified set of criteria.

For example (pulling these out of a hat here): "Granny passed away two weeks ago and after her funeral we were all sat around remembering her one evening when a mirror just slid off the wall without the fixture experiencing any damage. We think it was Granny saying hello and telling us she was alright".

Or "Our father passed in 2005 and on the night of the anniversary a few years later a bottle of beer shot off the mantelpiece and cracked. We know it was dad telling our eldest brother to cut down his drinking and that he was ok".

I am open minded in these matters and have no fixed idea of how 'reality' ought to play out. But it's the over simplification of these types of phenomena which often puzzle me. Wishful thinking, perhaps? But if so, why would we interpret something this way? Occasionally there's a related story that has at least some resonance; a lady I worked for a few decades ago once told me that her late father had appeared to her, briefly, as a robin. I had the impression that she felt a strong connection to the bird or an 'understanding' had passed between them in that fleeting moment, which at least renders this story a tad less simplified and more heartfelt. But the majority of the 'just saying hello' or 'telling us she was ok' accounts strike me as a simple bias that might be more appropriately interpreted as 'we really really want it to be granny saying hello, even though we haven't the foggiest!'

These simplified stories tend to lack critical thinking in their interpretation rather than the details themselves. So I suppose I am talking about how our own education/background/beliefs will always colour how we relate to and share such experiences. Similarly, if the above accounts happened to me, I might be more inclined to ascribe it to accident on the one hand, or to an entity or poltergeist on the other. The "We could smell his pipe smoke" and "her strong perfume filled the room" might also slot into the same category, although they at least describe a more literal connection to the deceased. Finding a 'feather' at a poignant moment might fit into this 'genre' too, to some extent. My sister has experienced many a feather, along with spectral lights at the cemetery and glowing angels in her doorway on waking. She isn't at all religious but does believe in some sort of mysterious 'kindly god' and afterlife.

These are just ideas to play with, so I have no conclusions, but I would be interested to know what others think. I would never presume myself into the position of telling anyone whether their lived experiences are real or not, but I am fascinated by such patterns of belief simply because they differ to my own. I have a handful of lost loved ones and have experienced a good deal of Fortean oddities in my time, but apart from perhaps the very rare yet powerful dream, I have no idea if any of my dear departed have been trying to say hello to me or attempted to cryptically rearrange my odds and ends. Well not yet, anyway.
I worked with someone who interpreted every butterfly and falling feather as a message from a dead relative and it just gets tedious (ironically we all wanted to kill her).
 
I worked with someone who interpreted every butterfly and falling feather as a message from a dead relative and it just gets tedious (ironically we all wanted to kill her).
I have a cousin like that. The merest glimpse of a white feather and she starts screaming about angels and ignoring the gulls flapping about overhead.
 
Grief hardwires you to look for signs, I guess. And sometimes, not-grief, when someone you didn't particularly like dies (like, my mother in law).

It's mathematical - just statistically likely - that you see a robin, or a picture falls down, or whatever - and sometimes those things happen around the time of a death, so your brain just goes there?

Have posted before the weird one re my mother in law. She knew I hated pigeons. The day after she died and for a Christlike (or fairytale) three days, a pigeon appeared on my windowsill, it's face almost plastered against the glass (ie: peering right in at us) and there it sat all day. It wasn't afraid of us. It wouldn't be shooed away. This was my living room window so downstairs and at the back of our house. It wasn't just "a bird sitting on a windowsill that's a bit tame so won't be scared away". Birds on windowsills tend to face outwards. This thing was facing in. I just shut the blinds in the end.

I think I associated it with her because she knew I hated pigeons but also she was nosy as owt. She'd come to our house and literally just walk into the kitchen and rifle through the cupboards. I once left some stuff at her's in a closed box when we were made homeless in the early 80s and when we arrived, unexpectedly, found her up to her elbows in my knickers etc that were in the box. She was overtly in your business, constantly.

What would she logically do if she could, after death? Finally get to stand on my windowsill with her face pressed against the glass.

Three days and then it vanished and we never saw it again.

I still think it was sheer coincidence and nothing paranormal but my mind instantly went there that this nosy, ugly bird was... her.
Your incident with the pigeon wouldn't strike me as 'simplified' though, it would certainly make me wonder! It does have a much more curious, personal element to it, as opposed to a bottle falling over or something slipping from a nail on the wall. I once had a pigeon hit my bedroom window at speed one morning leaving a rather angelic feathered imprint. Thankfully it must have recovered and moved away as I didn't find an injured bird in the garden. Birds are funny buggers though...

Have you read the short story Laura, by Saki?
Ooh yes, this was possibly my earliest exposure to the concept of reincarnation. Glad she chose an otter!
 
I was in the garden just now and noticed a sparrow carrying a white feather in its beak. It reminded me of this thread, I've noticed sparrows doing this a few times recently. They don't drop the feather near me so I can't be the intended recipient.
 
I was in the garden just now and noticed a sparrow carrying a white feather in its beak. It reminded me of this thread, I've noticed sparrows doing this a few times recently. They don't drop the feather near me so I can't be the intended recipient.
It might be a 'mating gift' to give to a female sparrow.
 
We found a huge, old feather stuffed cushion in the attic of a holiday let that we pulled down whilst looking for a spare light bulb (don't ask).
Unfortunately it burst open and covered the entire upper floor with tiny white feathers...and this thing was absolutely gigantic. It took several hours of hoovering and searching for them to clear them all up, with many of them blowing outside into the garden and beyond.

I wonder now whether we might have inspired a cluster of 'visitations' around Ludlow and it's environs that fine summer evening.

Saying that, I still find tiny silver stars here and there, the result of bursting open a good sized carton of cosmic themed confetti in my university days over 25 yrs ago. I have moved house/location quite a few times since. I think a decent amount got lodged in storage, book pages, socks, etc - the most recent sighting being only a few months ago, stuck to the back of an old teddy.
 
Have you read the short story Laura, by Saki?
No, Frides, I will go find it!

There was a follow up death bird, too. Last summer, my FIL died (nearly 30 years after MIL) and the same evening, I went in the bathroom, only to find a young bird (don't know the type but it looked like a baby and it wasn't a pigeon) sat on the metal handle of the bathroom window, as we usually have it fully open all summer. Just sat there like it was a perch. Been here 20 years and that has never happened, once, although we have had the occasional house martin in the house from an open upstairs window.

Like the first one, it refused to move. I just tiptoed out of the bathroom and closed the door behind me, eventually, so it couldn't get into the rest of the house and when we went back in the bathroom, it was gone. Now I don't leave it fully open at night. Weird because it was after the birds had roosted (dark) but on the other hand, it was quite fluffy and young looking so maybe up past its bedtime.

It didn't come back all day for three days. Again, sheer coincidence. But because someone had just died, we did wonder. Briefly.

ETA: Just occurs to me birds were often associated with omens, eh? Apparently, Hull fishermen wouldn't have curtains or wallpaper with birds on, because they thought they were harbingers of death.
 
I wonder whether that was all birds? The fishing boats here are often surrounded by gulls.

Becky Jane.jpg


Harbingers of the death of fish?
 
It's very hard, when grieving, to be 'sensible' about such incidents. For instance, in the cemetery at my gran's funeral I was lost in thought & was consequently slowly walking backwards...until I was at the absolute brink of falling into a newly-dug grave(!) Naturally, I later thought that my late gran had somehow halted my steps, as I was on a slope and couldn't work out why I'd stopped at that exact point or even how I'd managed to do so. This gut feeling now seems like (understandable, sentimental) silliness on my part but, nevertheless I still, stooopidly, can't really rid myself of believing it.
 
My MiL was a character.
She passed away shortly after her 80th, of lung cancer.
Shortly before, in the lead up to Christmas, I brought our children down for all her grandchildren to decorate her Christmas Tree. She knew it would be the last such occasion. She confided in me that she would hold on until after the holidays, as she didn't want to spoil it for anyone.

She did, and she left us some weeks later, surrounded by her own children.

Despite being an atheist, a leftist, an intellectual, a francophile, and many other admirable things, she was also a deep sceptic.
I always thought, like Houdini, if anyone would come back with a sign of the beyond, it would be her.

And I can hear her in my head now when I say: Not a f*cking jot!
 
Isn't this all down to the human brain's ability with pattern recognition? That we try to fit events together to form a narrative? So, someone dies - something else happens = deceased still able to interact with the living.

It is simultaneously a comfort, a proof of life continued and a continuing narrative. But really it's just that the human brain has problems processing the truly random, so tries to make it less random by making it a 'this happened, so this happened' story.
 
This thread reminds me that when French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo passed away a few years ago, his grandson told the press that his coffin ended up being trapped into an elevator after the said elevator suddenly broke down. The coffin bearers had to climb outside of the elevator to break free and some of the actor's family members interpreted the incident as a last prank from the humourous departed.

Here a short report of the incident (in French) : https://www.rtl.be/people/scene-sur...-se-retrouve-coince/2021-10-27/article/427841

Interestingly the incident was interpreted by the family in a very positive and soothing way, which may have somewhat allievated their pain at the loss of such a towering figure.
 
Isn't this all down to the human brain's ability with pattern recognition? That we try to fit events together to form a narrative? So, someone dies - something else happens = deceased still able to interact with the living.

It is simultaneously a comfort, a proof of life continued and a continuing narrative. But really it's just that the human brain has problems processing the truly random, so tries to make it less random by making it a 'this happened, so this happened' story.

I agree. But that doesn't mean it isn't also really meaningful :)

In my Old Catholic theology the numinous quality is Grace : that event, and that time and place, and that observer. On the grounds that the event is True (rather than true) and who are we to demand a particular method God must use to create the precious moment?

So they can be both mundanely explicable AND simultaneously deeply meaningful and mystical. The two states aren't mutually exclusive.

I am not of course suggesting that this theology works for everyone and YMMV! :bpals:

These events are complete in themselves and personal to the observer. The same reasoning doesn't work on, for example, Skinwalker Ranch etc. where the people directly involved are trying to extrapolate from the event and also to persuade non-intimately involved humans about the evetns themselves and their significance. These events fall into the extraordinary claims need extraordinary levels of proof class. Again YMMV.
 
Isn't this all down to the human brain's ability with pattern recognition? That we try to fit events together to form a narrative? So, someone dies - something else happens = deceased still able to interact with the living.

It is simultaneously a comfort, a proof of life continued and a continuing narrative. But really it's just that the human brain has problems processing the truly random, so tries to make it less random by making it a 'this happened, so this happened' story.
The night my dad died (very unexpectedly), I decided to visit the hospital in the early evening by taking a taxi, one of a few which were lined up outside our town's Morrisons. Both the driver and myself were confused as to why the car wouldn't start, and when it did, it stalled every 20 seconds or so all the way to the hospital.
My dad had been admitted with a non serious infection that had sadly reached sepsis without our knowledge.
To my mind, that short journey was surreal. I had NOT been expecting bad news, although he was with the cardiac team when I arrived, and I never saw him again.
This stays with me, not because I believe he engineered this, or that his spirit interfered with the car - but because it was so very, very odd. There was an atmosphere, in retrospect; everything had a tinge of wrongness about it.
Personally I believe this was a collection of factors - my own unconscious preparation and whatever 'out there' agreed with me!

I am not religious, although I do feel that consciousness is largely inexplicable, so I am happy to flow with things. Who knows, ultimately?

And to edit: I once, when very young, had a dream that I was lying on an operating table waiting for a brain surgeon to open up my head. Before anaesthetising me, he leant in close and whispered "Don't worry, you are not your brain". It made so much sense at the time, and I never quite forgot that one!
 
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