Getting into the 'Spirit' of Halloween

We’ve all done this. You’re with a group of friends, and in a random turn, the conversation suddenly switches to ghost stories. And so it begins. One after the other in hushed tones, each person shares what they’ve heard or what they’ve witnessed themselves.

I love to hear these stories and I love the way they make the fine little Japanese hairs at the back of my neck stand up. Fortunately, I’ve never had an encounter with a ghost or “spirit,” so I never have much to contribute. So in preparation of writing this blog, I took to social media and asked my friends to share their own experiences. I soon found that these stories fell into two categories:  those about the spirits of our departed loved ones and those about “other” spirits.

Do the spirits of our loved ones continue to watch over us?

When someone we love passes away, the sense of loss and grief can be overwhelming. Then, sometimes, something extraordinary happens. It can’t be explained away and the coincidences are too significant to dismiss. And those who experience it find peace in knowing that although the physical form of their loved one is gone, love never really dies.

Jackie’s story
Vietnam, early 1970s. When I was five, my mom passed away suddenly from a brain aneurism. My grandma was devastated and went to see a psychic, who said that my mother would come back to visit in the form of a butterfly – a purple one, my mother’s favorite kind of butterfly. One day, we noticed a purple butterfly that flew into the house and landed on our curtain, where it remained for the longest time. My grandma was so happy to see this butterfly and told me what the psychic had said.  

Fast forward to the year 2001. I was going through a very rough time in my marriage and was contemplating divorce, but I had two young kids and a mortgage to worry about. One night when driving home from work, I prayed to God to guide me and protect me and my kids. 

When I approached my front door (it was 1:00 a.m.), there was a purple butterfly parked right on the door. It was at eye level and I came up really close to it. I immediately knew it was my mother. Whether she sensed it, or my prayers to the Lord had been answered, I don’t know. But the butterfly reminded me of my mother and at that moment I knew everything would work out fine and that I was not alone. 

-- Submitted by Jackie Nguyen Miyashiro

Charisma’s story
I was very close with my grandmother; she practically raised me. In the middle of my wedding planning, Grandma was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. A few days later, I married my husband in her hospital room.

After Grandma passed away, I had to continue planning the formal wedding and reception. My mom and I would sit in my grandmother’s dining room trying to make decisions on china and crystal settings. As we talked about the wedding, the dining room chandelier would randomly flicker on and off.

We had decided to use my grandmother’s place setting, but needed to order replacements. I had the hardest time trying to find the manufacturer and pattern name for my grandma’s crystal. One day, I found an online site for crystal pattern identification instructions. At that very moment, all the lights in the house started flickering and an image of my grandmother’s crystal was on the crystal pattern homepage. I revisit the site from time to time, just to know my grandma is still watching over me.

- Submitted by Charisma Taylor

Carole’s story
It was three years ago on a Saturday around 2:15 a.m. when I received the call from my father’s caregiver that he had passed away. My husband and I went to the caregiver’s home to see Dad one last time and wait for the mortuary to pick him up. Around 5 p.m., we returned home and woke our two daughters to tell them of their grandpa's passing. We reminisced a little, we cried a little. 

Being that this was a Saturday, we had my daughter’s big track meet to attend. Knowing my father, I firmly believe that he chose his time of passing. With his early morning departure, we were all able to attend the ILH Track Championships. He was just like that – never wanting to inconvenience anyone. The track team said a prayer and dedicated their team races to Grandpa Dick.

It was a long day at the meet, cheering on the girls while calling family and making arrangements. We finally reached home and I headed upstairs to change my clothes. When I walked into my closet, I was astounded to see my closet floor filled with red hearts! I keep these shiny red Valentine decorations in a bin on the top shelf of my closet and use them every Valentine’s Day for my girls. The bin sits on a very flat surface and there’s absolutely no way that bin could fall off the shelf without Dad's help. I know it was my Dad’s way of saying "I love you." I immediately looked up and said, "Thank you, Dad. I love you, too.”

- Submitted by Carole Kirk (above left with her father; photo courtesy of Carole Kirk)

And then, some stories are just plain scary

Did you know that being scared, like from a horror movie, can burn calories? Well, that’s logical – consider your racing heart, that surge of adrenaline, your death grip on the armrest of your chair. Like many things we feel, being scared is a chemical reaction. It affects your mood, creates a feeling of euphoria, and makes you feel, well, alive. In fact, a person who welcomes being scared often, like some people I know who read horror novels and frequent scary movies and haunted attractions, might be able to manage stressful situations better than someone who avoids horror entertainment (like me).

This brings us to the more chilling type of ghost or “spirit” story. They aren’t comforting, and they sure don’t bring us peace. No, sir.

A haunting in a hospital
(This story was submitted by a nurse who witnessed the incident firsthand. The nurse, and the hospital, shall remain anonymous.)

It happened about ten years ago. We had a couple of babies die in the hospital, and one day, after a particular bad code (that's the act of trying to bring a baby back) the monitors were acting wonky. They would flicker, turn off and turn on. The next day, in addition to the monitors going on and off, the phototherapy lights were burning out. 

The manager finally made the decision to hire a shaman. Every parent was contacted and was told that a biomed test was going to be done, so no parents will be allowed in the unit. We closed the unit and the shaman was able to see where all the sad spirit babies were. He had never been to our unit, but he knew that the spirits were in the family room and behind the door in one of the rooms. The shaman talked to the spirits, told them that their home wasn't here and to go home. After he left, we had no more issues on our unit.

An apparition in the audience, and on stage
One day, I was attending a presentation for work. It was in a large auditorium, so there were empty seats here and there. Halfway through, I felt the need to stretch my neck, so I tilted my head to the right. When I turned my head to the left, I saw the face of an apparition. It was just a face, not an entire head, so it kind of looked like a mask. The face was powder white, smiling and looking at the stage.

I slowly turned my head to face forward and there on the stage next to the real speaker was another ghost! It was a man in his late 60s or 70s, dressed in a white lab coat. He was smiling, arms raised as if he were giving a lecture and addressing the audience. I stared and blinked to see if my eyes were playing a trick on me, but he was still there on stage.

I looked at my coworker, who was sitting quietly and watching the speaker behind the podium, while I watched the ghost next to the speaker. I turned back to the left and looked at the face, which remained for a few more seconds, then disappeared. I looked up again and the only person on stage was our presenter. The “ghost” was also gone.

To this day, I have not gone back to that particular auditorium.

- Submitted by Donna Lortrakul

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the stories sure are irresistible. So in the spirit of Halloween, grab a friend or two and ask them if they’ve encountered any ghosts. Then sit back and enjoy the conversation. And if you have a good one, please share it with us below or on Facebook.