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The lived experience of sensing the presence of the deceased
Barbara Lynn McLean (author)Martha MacLeod (Thesis advisor)University of Northern British Columbia (Degree granting institution)
Master of Education (MEd)
Number of pages in document: 92
A common experience among mourners is thinking they have seen, heard, or experienced the presence of the deceased. In counselling literature these experiences are characterized as hallucinations that occur as a symptom of grief. Mourners often believe they are in contact with another reality and as a result feel that mental health professionals misunderstand them, leading to a silencing of the phenomena. In order to be more helpful to these prospective clients, counsellors need a deeper understanding of the experiences from the perspectives of those having them. The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological thesis is to portray the lived experience of perceiving the presence of the deceased as described by seven participants having had the experience. The interview data were transcribed and analyzed for common themes through a process adapted from Colaizzi (1978). Although much was discovered, the most fundamental findings were that the experiences were best described as spiritual and had positive effects on the participants. Other findings included the inability of participants to find words that could describe their experiences, the limited willingness to share their experiences with others, the inability of the participants to control their experiences, and the discovery that participants were not always grieving when the experiences occurred. These findings raise important questions concerning counsellors' approaches to clients. Knowing how to encourage disclosure of the experience, or how cultural differences affect the experiences, or the extent of effects that these experiences have on peoples' lives could be particularly beneficial to counsellors.
Counseling.Death -- Psychological aspects.Grief -- Psychological aspects.Bereavement -- Psychological aspects.Spiritualism.