Should Skeptics Believe in Ghosts?

Joel Eisenberg

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GhostKevin Escate, Unsplash

Introduction

What you should know about me first is I am a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic. I believe there are explanations for everything, and yet the human capacity is not capable of fully comprehending what our five senses cannot detect.

Some refer to that elusive world beyond our ken as the “supernatural realm.”

It is to that I also refer. I do believe in the supernatural, though my belief system is neither religious nor spiritually-based. I simply refer to that realm as part of the unknowable universal makeup, akin to pondering why we possess consciousness or have the capacity to imagine.

And then something happens that makes me swallow my pride and reconsider everything.

The First Time

Late last year I posted a NewsBreak story called “Dying For His Dream.” That link can be found here. The story was about one of my closest friends, an actor with a regular role on a highly-rated television series. He had it all: acting chops, looks, charisma to spare.

He passed away of what the coroner called “an accidental drug overdose.” Initial reports were my friend had committed suicide.

What I did not cover in the above story was what happened following his two memorial services.

We were long-time friends, and yet I discovered some surprising qualities about him of which I was unaware. For example, during the second memorial service it was said my friend’s favorite musical group was ABBA (“Dancing Queen,” “Fernando,” and numerous other Billboard Top 10 hits). I wish I knew, as ABBA was a favorite group of mine since I was a child, but the person delivering the eulogy said he preferred not to publicly admit the affection due to his macho image.

As I was driving home from that second memorial service, I turned on the radio. An ABBA marathon was playing on a local oldies station. I took it as little more than a very timely coincidence. I went to sleep that night and dreamt that my friend was still alive, and we were spending time with our clique at our usual Hollywood hang.

The following week, though, was downright scary. At the time of my friend’s passing, I owned a digital answering machine and made a habit of erasing all voice messages once I listened to them. I left for work in the morning. There were no messages on the machine as everything had been erased. I arrived home that afternoon to two blinks — two voicemails were (apparently) left unheard. My wife was not yet home. I was still in a somber mood; I missed my friend and was having a difficult time processing his passing.

I listened to the messages. The first was a hang-up. Nothing unusual, there. The second honestly shook me. It was a message from my friend — a message from the prior year that I had erased the day I heard it. On that old message he said he was appreciative that I helped him take care of a personal issue, and he wanted to thank me for being a close friend. That was not all, though. This is the part that gets me: He ended the call with, “I love you, buddy.”

Though I erased that message the year before, I had remembered it well as I was touched by it.

I cried. I was alone and I let the tears flow. My wife arrived home; she saw my red eyes and asked what was wrong. I played her the message. Her response, which I will never forget: “Maybe now you can start healing.

”***

Weeks after, I had told his girlfriend about all that had happened. She said she had similar experiences, yet after just a few minutes we moved on to other, more comfortable subjects.

What else was there to say?

Regardless, I did not believe my friend was trying to contact me or anything of the sort. I did not start believing in ghosts … but did once again question the mysteries behind the universe’s innumerable dimensions.

The Second Time

I lost my dad. He passed of fatty liver disease at the age of 70.

As with my friend, an early ”sign,” for lack of a better word, was an innocent dream. For many people, according to this educational paper as reprinted by USC (University of Southern California), dreaming about a deceased loved one is common.

My dad and I were always very close. Our last verbal exchange to each other took place while he was in hospice care, days before his death: “I want you to know,“ I said, “I am proud to be your son.” He answered in a faint whisper, “And I am proud to be your father.”

I embraced him, and put my face against his, feeling every bit of the stubble and smelling the familiar scent when one is close to dying. Though we had closure, I left the hospital room and broke down.

What ensued in this case, though, differed considerably from the passing of my friend. To date, my dreams about my father are ongoing; I lost him nearly a dozen years ago, and I do not think a night has gone by where he has not penetrated those dreams.

I’ve asked him to “stay.” He‘s said he “has to go but will be back soon.” He has appeared in those dreams at various life milestones he was no longer alive to attend: weddings, professional achievements, births.

I have two brothers and no sisters. One of my brothers has two sons of his own, my other brother has one son. Though my dad loved his grandchildren to a degree more than words can convey, he had built a dollhouse in the event of a miracle amongst my brothers and I, as he had long wanted a girl in the family.

Weeks before Dad died, my brother’s wife announced she was expecting their second child. We welcomed our new niece months later. Their son was joined by a baby sister.

In the meantime, my dad and I continue talk. I tell him about Mom and the rest of the family. Not to be morbid, but for a deceased individual he still gives great advice. By the way, my brothers say the same thing.

Conclusion

I have not changed my mind, for the record. I do not believe in ghosts, as I stated from the outset. I believe incidents such as those elucidated above are, indeed, explainable. I do not have the answers, however. Nor do I think the masses who insist ghosts are real know any more than I do. But the idea can certainly be comforting to contemplate.

Thank you for reading. I wish you a happy and safe Halloween.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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