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Scared or Sacred: Post-Death Encounters and the Surviving Spouse Open Access


Other title
post-death encounters
after death communication
Type of item
Degree grantor
St. Stephen's College
Author or creator
Beverly Mae Hagen
Supervisor and department
Rev. Dr. Fran Hare
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Jane Simington
Dr. Janet Greidanus
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts in Pastoral Psychology and Counselling
Degree level
In the past ten years, an exciting field of research investigating and documenting post-death communication has emerged. Post-Death or After-Death Communication (ADC) is described as a spiritual experience that occurs when a person is contacted directly and spontaneously by a loved one who has died. Contact varies with each individual and can range from feeling the presence of the deceased to full-blown sensory experiences where the bereaved reports seeing or hearing the deceased. The literature supports that there are at least twelve types of encounters recorded. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the impact of post-death encounters on the surviving spouse. The effect of post-death encounters on the grieving process, spirituality, and belief in the afterlife were also explored. Using the heuristic method of inquiry, semi -structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with four widows who believed their husbands had contacted them after their death. These encounters were considered sacred by each co-researcher and had a healing effect on the grieving process for each participant. The knowledge that their beloved was assisting, guiding and supporting them even in death, and the realization that they were not alone, was very comforting. Each is ready to move forward, and although open to the possibility of forming new relationships, they will continue to have a bond with their beloved. In conclusion, counselors should be educated about post-death encounters so that the bereaved can share their experiences in a nonjudgmental, understanding and supportive environment.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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