Talking To Ghosts

What’s your take? Can we communicate with those that have already passed away?

Those who lose loved ones find themselves at complete loss and with an aching sense of emptiness. It can be very healing to talk to the dead, however most people, especially adults would rather not attempt to engage in order to avoid the associated discomfort.  Young people too are often not encouraged to engage in such conversations.

Many students in Chicago Public Schools deal with the loss of a close friend or family member due to gun violence. Teachers often try to find methods to help them deal with their grief, however teachers most often will deal with death based on their personal comfort with the topic, according to a Lauren Lauter, a Ph.D student at the University of Wisconsin.

Some teachers believe that death is not an appropriate topic for development, while others believe that it is not part of their job and do not want to cross boundaries and upset parents.

However according to Lauter, children even from the age of six start to think about loss and death and want to know more.  Lauter is one of many researchers who feels that emotional health is strongly related with teaching.

It has been estimated that 1 in 20 students will lose a parent before they finish high school, according to The Coalition to Support Grieving Students.  This coalition is in strong support of having formal conversations in schools with students about loss and grief. It’s ultimate goal is to help change the denial culture of death in the U.S.

As well as face-to-face conversations, there are many young adult novels that can be of benefit to youngsters when it comes to topics such as dying and death, that touch on the taboos associated with it and show how young people can be strong, inspiring and get through these traumatic situations.

Patti Smith, the famous rock star once said that the people that we lose are within us, and become a part of us, inside our blood and our DNA.  She says that our relationship with the dead still exists and that acknowledging them is a crucial part of the recovery process.

Speaking to the dead is an ancient practice in many cultures, but in recent times, we seem to have lost it. By speaking to ghosts, we erase the imaginary boundary between the dead and the living.  Think about the impact it could have if teachers used this method in schools.

In Jewish tradition, mourning is a communal and personal ceremony. There is a special prayer recited four times a year that is known as the remembrance prayer. Mourners have direct conversations with the dead amongst the living.

The Day of The Dead is a South-Central Mexican tradition and is a public celebration of the dead in which people make elaborate altars including memorabilia of the one they lost.  People also come with gifts for the dead. These rituals can be traced back to the Aztecan times where they would revive the Lady of the Dead, the ruler of the underworld.


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