When Deceased Relatives Show Up


The people in heaven care about us and intercede for us before the Throne of God. Sometimes they even get permission from God to visit their loves ones on Earth either in a dream or quick visit. Most people never talk about their visits from loved ones, but according to Peter Kreeft and Ronald Keith Tacelli, millions have received visits. Kreeft and Tacelli write:



“ . . . we estimate, on the basis of talking to thousands of people over dozens of years, that between ten and forty percent of the living have had some experience of the real presence of the dead, usually a family member. The experience is occasionally physical, something seen with the eyes or heard with the ears. More often it is not physical; yet it is not merely subjective and mental either, but objective and real. It is not a memory or an image of a person, but a real person that is present. The presence is always sudden and unexpected, and usually in a specific, limited place and time. ‘Grandma was in my bedroom last night.’ The experience almost always seems to occur between two people who have been personally close while both were alive.” (Handbook of Christian Apologetics, p.253)


The Church has always taught that there exists a bond of charity between the faithful souls in heaven, on Earth, and in purgatory. According to the Catechism, the assembly of all saints – which we call the Communion of Saints – forms the whole Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ. The union of the faithful on Earth “with the brethren who sleep in the peace of Christ is in no way interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the constant faith of the Church, this union is reinforced by an exchange of spiritual goods” (CCC 955).


St. Francis of Assisi appeared to St. Anthony of Padua.  St. Peter appeared to St. Bertha in the 7th century.  St. Jerome appeared to St. Augustine. St. Augustine appeared to St. Norbert. St. Therese of Lisieux appeared to St. Faustina and also to Maria Esperanza. Brother Romanus appeared to St. Thomas Aquinas. Prophets Elijah and Moses appeared to Jesus and three of His Apostles (the story of the “Transfiguration” is told in Matthew 17:1-9).

But saints are not the only ones who appear. Why do regular people appear to loved ones on Earth? Often, it is simply to let the person know they are okay or to express their love. Sometimes, souls appear from purgatory requesting prayers and sacrifices to expedite their transition to heaven. Still other times, there is a special message to be convey to the person still on Earth.


One final note. There are some who actively discourage people from paying any attention to those who appear from the afterlife because of the small possibility that it could be a demon from hell disguising himself as a dear relative, encouraging you to engage in evil. Thanks to God’s great mercy and love, this is not the norm. As part of the communion of saints, we on Earth are bonded to the saints in heaven, who care about us deeply. But if you need to confirm that a person who appears to you is truly from God, simply test the person by asking him or her to praise Jesus in a loud voice. Furthermore, people from heaven are known to love having holy water splashed on them whereas spirits from below react angrily or flee in the presence of blessed water.


We will now share our collection of beautiful stories of people from the afterlife reaching out to loved ones still in this life.


                                              Stories from Real People


Voice of deceased son after plane crash:   Mark Darling, 55, purposely crashed his plane into a mountain while flying over Steamboat Springs, Colorado, on Jan. 25, 2015. He was depressed because his son had died in a car accident two years earlier. After his plane crashed, Mark realized he had survived his suicide attempt. Now he was stranded in a cold, snowy mountain. He heard the voice of his son say, “Dad, you are not going out like this. You're going to get yourself up and you're going to build a fire and you're going to get yourself out of here.” Mark was now inspired to survive, but he could not find his cell phone anywhere. That’s when his son spoke again, saying “Dad,  just walk to the other side of the plane.” When Mark got to a certain spot, the son told him to reach down into the snow. Mark did so, and out came the phone.  Distraught pilot says he survived suicide crash without a scratch


Grandpa appears in two people’s dreams the same night – Bill Donaghy tells the heart-warming story of his aunt and his grandmother having the same dream on the same night. His grandfather had died in 1993 and, for more than a year, his family had been praying for his soul. One night, his aunt Margaret dreamed she was in a white kitchen that was bathed in light when she saw Grandpa wearing his Irish sweater and stirring a cup of coffee. A few nights later, she told her mother she had a dream. “Was he wearing that Irish sweater?” Grandma asked. “Yeah, he was holding….”  “A mug of coffee … stirring it,” Grandma interrupted. Both women received a hug from Grandpa in their dreams. (Source: Donaghy, Bill. “The Thin Veil Between death and life.” The Catholic Standard & Times 11/4/2010)   Abridged version here


C.S. Lewis – His deceased wife visited him in spirit. This author of the Chronicles of Narnia has revealed that he felt her presence, which he described as “just the impression of her mind momentarily facing my own” and the presence of her “intelligence and attention.” (Source: A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, pp. 85-86). Lewis writes, “It’s the quality of last night’s experience—not what it proves but what it was—that makes it worth putting down. It was quite incredibly unemotional. Just the impression of her mind momentarily facing my own.”   C.S. Lewis wiki    C.S. Lewis    The Conversion Story of C.S. Lewis


Son appears in dream: This woman tells the story of her 16-year-old son who died in a car accident in 1996. “He came to me in a dream and told me he needed Masses said for him. So I did and through that process I came into the Catholic faith. I tell everyone that my dead son brought me into the faith.” (Source: Scroll to forums member Irishgal49)


Not hallucinating: This man, Joseph L. Varga, tells the story of his mother and his aunt (two sisters) who were walking along in 1949 or 1950 and suddenly saw a vision of their deceased mother walking towards them “with her arms spread and ready to embrace her two daughters. The vision then disappeared. BOTH my mother and aunt experienced this vision at the same time . . . .” (Source: forums member Joseph L. Varga)


Saw deceased parents praying at bedside: While praying the rosary in his dying brother’s hospital room, this man saw his deceased mother and father praying along with him near the bed. Both were kneeling and holding rosaries. “It wasn’t a pronounced image of them but a faint image almost clear image. This was sudden and unexpected as I was praying,” the man writes.  (Source: Scroll to“fred conty”)



Boy sees deceased brothers and heaven. In an Oct. 19, 1997, car accident, Landon Whitley, age 8, saw Jesus, angels, streets of gold, and two of his brothers who had died in miscarriages. He did not even know the brothers existed. In his vision, the boy also saw his his father, who had just died in the car accident. Here is a link to the story of Landon Whitley (Fox Chicago News). And here is the book, Heaven and Back, by his mother Julie Kemp is only on Kindle (link to Amazon)    Video.


Deceased grandparents to attend wedding: About two months before her wedding, this woman’s deceased paternal grandfather showed up and said, “Your Opa and I are coming.” (Source: scroll to jazzy0710)


Great-grandmother and Great-grandfather saw Virgin Mary at the same time in their bedroom in 1940. First, a light brighter than the sun appeared. Then, a beautiful woman with soft skin, robed in white appeared, sitting under an arch composed of light and radiating rainbow colors. Right in their bedroom. It’s a family secret. (Source: Scroll to Vouthon)


Oh Bob: This man says his wife’s dying grandmother was semi-conscious when “all of a sudden she bolted upright and said ‘Oh Bob,’ kind of smiled and then fell back down in bed, and stopped breathing a short time after. This was witnessed by several.” Bob was her deceased son. (Source: scroll to mikew262)


Deceased brother says stop drinking: Grandpa, who was an alcoholic, woke suddenly and saw his deceased brother in his bedroom. “He told my grandpa to stop drinking now or else he was going to die. Unfortunately, it only scared my grandpa straight for a few months,” says the writer. (Source: scroll to phillipa31)


In dream, dead grandpa says don’t divorce: A 36-year-old man reports that in one of the “most vivid dreams” he ever had, his dead grandfather visited him when he was getting divorced. “He actually scolded me about it at first but then sympathized with me. He said his purpose of visiting was to warn me that I could lose my salvation over the divorce if I’m not careful” (Source: scroll to JonathonofOhio).


Nurse says dying mother reported seeing her deceased husband and deceased older brother at bedside. Same woman says her patient heard singing by angels. (Source - scroll down to “Isca”).



“Wake up. Bethany is not breathing”:   In a dream, a woman’s deceased husband alerts her that the baby needed help.  (Source - scroll to  “HillsongUnited”).


Rose from heaven. This man asked his deceased mother to send him a rose if she was in heaven. He found a rose by his foot while at Mass! He found it just as he was thinking to himself that he felt cheated for not receiving a rose. (Source - Scroll to “Robert Sock”)


Hospice nurse tells of patients who see dead people – Like many hospice workers and medical professionals who work with people at the end of their lives, Trudy Harris writes this article mentioning a few of her patients who saw angels or deceased  loved ones in their last days. Evidence of Life After Death


Deborah Calandrillo – About a week after her husband Joe died in the 9/11 tragedy, Deborah saw Joe suddenly appear,  sitting on the bed next to her with his arm around her pillow in the middle of the night. She was completely awake: “He came to say goodbye . . .I could see through him. I could see the table and the lamp behind him . . . He wanted me to know that there is another existence after this one” (Source: Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost in 9/11 by Bonnie McKeaney).


Premonitions – Bonnie McKeaney wrote that her husband Eamon, who perished in 9/11, had been making eerie but accurate predictions about his fate in the two months before the attacks. He had discussed the attacks with her and many friends. July 2001: He said, “Bin Laden’s the one who’s going to do us in.”  Sept 2, 2001: Convinced of an upcoming attack on the World Trade Center, Eamon discussed with employees whether the best escape route might be to go to the roof.     Sept. 4, 2001: To his wife, “I’m going to die before you. I just wanted you to know that”    Sept. 7, 2001: To his wife, “You know, every morning, when we leave for work, we don’t know if we’ll return.”  Sept. 9, 2001: “I think I can handle my death now.”  


A few months after 9/11, Eamon appeared to a friend named Michael Duffy to tell him it was very important for him to finish the third of three marathons he was running to raise money for Eamon’s family. The apparition occurred after the second race, when “Michael was totally exhausted. When he got back to his room, he was so tired that he had to crawl to the bathroom. Then he looked up and saw Eamon standing there in the corner of the room, encouraging him to continue” (p. 25-26).   Michael Duffy passed away soon after.

 (Source: Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost in 9/11 by Bonnie McKeaney p. 21-23, 25-26)


Dreams of Immaculée Ilibagiza After most of her family was slaughtered in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, survivor Immaculée Ilibagiza writes that her brother Damascene would often come to her in dreams when she was hurting the most. Immaculée writes: “He’d often smile and tell me to stop crying because he could hear my sobs in heaven.” According to Immaculée, her brother would end his dreams with something like: “Immaculée, stop being so sad. Don’t you know that Mom, Dad, Vianney and I didn’t die? We are alive and will see you soon.” (Ilibagiza, Immaculée. Led by Faith, 40). The story of Immaculée’s survival and forgiveness of her family’s killers is told in her amazing book, Left to Tell: Discovering god Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (one of my favorite books!).


In a dream, grandmother is young again - This report comes from my good friend Maria, who went to high school with me in Pennsylvania. Our senior year, Maria had to fly to Italy for her grandmother’s funeral in 1986. When she returned, she told me that the day after the funeral, she had a dream that she knew was real. Her grandmother – who appeared to be only a teenager in the dream – was in a beautiful valley wearing a dress and twirling around joyfully. Maria asked her, “What’s it like there?” Her grandmother snapped back in her native Italian, “Queste cose non si domandano!" (“You must never ask such things!”) Maria added, “She said it very abruptly and her facial expression changed in a stern way and I woke up suddenly!” 


Dad appeared to Mom in a dream – This man reports that his father died from Alzheimer’s and was quite emaciated and weak by the end. But soon after death, his father appeared to his mother in a dream. “He did not speak, but was standing in the living room full and healthy and just smiled. Mom knew then that he was alright” (Source – scroll to JRKH)

Little girl appears to Dad in dream – A grieving father reports a dream in which he spent his night with his beloved daughter who died at the age of seven. “She was running around, just being her usual self … she said that she wasn’t dead and that she was never going to die. She said we would be together forever ….”  (Source:– scroll to “dreams of my daughter”)


Do Catholics Believe in Ghosts?   Check out this great article by Paul Thigpen, Ph.D., who writes that “belief in ghosts seems to have been universal across human cultures from the beginning of recorded history, and it’s based at least in part on countless reports that the living have in fact encountered them.