On Talking with the Dead

Fourteen-year-old Stacy inherited a roommate and new sister when her mother remarried. Stacy had never met anyone like Dee, who had lived on the streets since age fifteen and developed a nasty drug habit. During the transition, Dee joined her dad’s new family to “get clean.” Stacy made it her mission to help her.

“Sister, I’m here!” nineteen-year-old Dee announced as she flung her backpack on the spare bed. Stacy gave Dee clothes, and they talked nonstop until eleven each night. After their talks, Dee routinely climbed out the bedroom window and joined her friends on the streets, returning the next morning while Stacy was at school. But one night the unthinkable happened—Dee died on a downtown sidewalk from an overdose. Guilt burdened Stacy’s tender heart. “If only I had listened better and said more. She might have made it.”  

Four months later, out of the corner of her eye Stacy saw a phantom-like figure dash into her closet. She turned to face it, but nothing was there. She quivered as a slight chill came over her. She shrugged it off and went to bed. The next week, Stacy opened her eyes around midnight and calmly stared at an ill-formed spirit in her closet. “Is that Dee?” Shaking her head, she thought, “No. I’m dreaming.” She drifted back to sleep. A couple nights later, Stacy awoke and stared into the eyes of the spirit Dee. “What are you doing here?” Stacy blurted out as she sat up.

“I need to talk,” the spirit girl said, “I didn’t want to die. I’m so sorry. I don’t want to be here. I wish I had listened to you. Help me.” They communicated through their thoughts, though occasionally Stacy spoke out loud. After a half hour, the spirit Dee unexpectedly vanished. Stacy wondered where she went and if she would return.

She did return, and for the next six months, she and Stacy talked several times a week. Dee always began with, “I need to talk,” and then repeated verbatim what she had said the first time she appeared. One day Stacy saw Dee’s spirit standing beside her friends at school. As Stacy chatted with friends, Dee spoke into Stacy’s mind in a demanding tone, “I need to talk!” From that day on, Dee dominated and bullied Stacy and followed her everywhere saying, “It’s your fault that I died. Pay attention to me. I don’t like it here!”

Finally, Stacy confided in her mother, who was a Christian. She told Stacy to stop talking to Dee and to immediately recite the Lord’s prayer whenever the spirit appeared. Then they prayed together. Others prayed with and for Stacy, and she learned what the Bible had to say about the dead. The spirit stopped appearing.

Stacy’s story, inspired by actual events, resembles those told by Christians and nonbelievers who have seen or sensed the presence of the dead. The encounters, whether once or ongoing, are emotionally charged and intensely personal. Generally, they are private matters, rarely discussed with others. But years later people can recall where they were, what was said, and how they felt.

Christians often ask the following questions.

Can the dead communicate with the living? If so, why do some people see them and others not?

How is a person to know if they are speaking to the dead or a demon? Given that Christians have the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t they be able to sense the difference?

Some report getting into trouble like Stacy, but many say there are comforted by their talks with a deceased husband or wife. What is the harm?

The Bible answers these and other questions. It doesn’t say a lot about the dead, but it tells us enough. . . .