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Dr Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and the author of The Sense of Being Stared at: And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind (Hutchinson, £17.99). His website is

Archive for Thursday 27th May 2004 - Unexplained Powers: Visits after death

Last month I wrote about after-death contacts, when people feel the presence of someone who has passed on. It turns out that many readers have had these experiences, mostly with dearly loved spouses, parents, or children.

Most people felt a presence or experienced a touch, often in bed. Mary in Ryde told me: “A few days after my husband died I had just gone to bed when I felt him sit on his side of the bed, then he got in with me. He stayed a few minutes and then was gone. I knew it wouldn’t happen again, but it left me with a wonderful sense of peace.”

Sometimes the visits are repeated. Jane in Holywell says: “I cannot see my mother but she sits on the end of the bed. She seems to visit me when I most need her.”

Some people actually saw the person. Christine in Burham woke up one night. She says: “Dad was standing in the corner looking at me. He was wearing a suit as if he was going to the office. He was looking fit and well, as he was before his illness. He was showing me that I must stop grieving.”

Some people smelt familiar smells that made them feel the person was nearby. Others heard messages. Jan in Rochester told me that she had been crying because she missed her mother. “Suddenly I heard her saying to me, ‘Jan, don’t grieve for me, get on, you have a young family to look after.’ I felt instantly better, as though she was with me to help me cope.”

Very few of these visits were frightening. Most were comforting or reassuring. However we try to explain them, they certainly help bereaved people to come to terms with their loss.

Surprisingly, some dead pets seem to pay visits too. Janine said: “Early one early morning, after my cat died, she was standing on my chest as she used to do, sometimes, looking at me adoringly and kissing my face with her wet nose. I felt so happy.”

Rupert Sheldrake would like to hear from readers who feel they have encountered pets that have passed on. Email Rupert Sheldrake's researcher, with subject heading: Rupert Sheldrake.

Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake is the author of several books including:

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