Talking to the Dead for Healing and Comfort

Published June 17, 2021
Senior man sitting on edge of his bed and looking to an empty bed in front of him

When a loved one has passed away, it can be comforting to continue your relationship by writing to them or talking with them. This may seem awkward or uncomfortable at first, but it can be a healthy way to process your feelings and deal with your grief. Talking to your dead loved one can ease your loneliness and help you through this difficult time.

Is It Normal to Talk to the Dead?

Yes. Talking to lost loved ones is a normal and healthy way to grieve. According to Psychology Today, some people talk to the dead for years or even decades after a loss. You don't have to believe in ghosts or even an afterlife to feel that some part of your loved one endures. Conversing with that essence, whether you believe it's contained within yourself or is an outside entity, can help you navigate the challenges that come with losing someone important. You may feel a presence, or you may simply long for the comfort that comes from talking to someone you know very well. Either way, you can make this practice a part of your grief journey without feeling like you are doing something strange or unhealthy.

Five Ways to Talk to a Lost Loved One

From posting on social media to speaking aloud in a dark room, there are several ways you can share your thoughts and feelings with the person you've lost. You may not feel comfortable with every method of talking to a dead family member or friend, but one of these suggestions may bring you comfort.

Post on Their Social Media Page

One of the most common and public methods of talking to the dead is posting on social media. You've probably seen an example of this on Facebook when a person has passed away. Friends frequently post messages to the deceased person, even though they know the person who has died will not see them. This type of public, shared grieving can be very comforting. If you want to try it, simply go to the person's social media page and post a message. Talk about what the person meant to you and how you feel.

Write Them a Letter

Writing a letter you never plan on sending can help you sort through your emotions in a variety of situations. The same is true about writing a letter to a deceased loved one. If the person died suddenly, you may not have had a chance to say goodbye or tell them how you feel. Even if you had time to prepare before the loss, it can still feel incredibly jarring. Writing your thoughts and feelings in a letter can help. You can do this as an old-fashioned paper letter, an email, or a typed document on your computer. No matter which method you choose, simply share how you feel, what you're thinking, and all the things you wish you could have said.

Record Your Voice on Your Phone

If you used to talk to the person who passed away a lot on the phone, this may be the easiest way for you to talk to them now. However, it can feel very awkward to pick up your phone and pretend you're talking to them. Instead, you can record your voice using any recording app and allow the recorder to act as the audience or stand-in for the person you've lost. Talk about how you're feeling and what's happening in your life, just as you might do if the person were still with you.

Speak to an Empty Chair

Therapists sometimes suggest placing an empty chair in a room and sitting down across from it to speak to your lost loved one. This can give you a place to direct your conversation, allowing you to feel a bit like the person you've lost is sitting in a specific spot. Talking to an empty chair can feel silly at first, but if you try it, you may find it helps you say the things you didn't get a chance to say to the person you're missing.

Middle aged woman seated looking pensive in living room with second empty armchair

Talk Out Loud in a Dark Room

Another way to talk to the dead is to speak out loud to them in a dark room. Because the room is dark, you can imagine you're talking to someone, rather than seeing the empty chair or spot where they might be sitting. You can also close your eyes if that makes it easier. Say what you're feeling and thinking, and allow the silence to be comforting.

Tips to Help You Heal

Talking to the dead can feel challenging for a number of reasons, but there are ways to make it easier and promote healing. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Recognize that this an exercise you're doing for yourself. While you may or may not believe your loved one can hear you, talking is something you are doing for you.
  • Try not to judge yourself for needing this communication and for the method in which you try to talk to your loved one. Grief is different for everyone.
  • Similarly, try to be kind to yourself about what you choose to say. You may need to talk to the dead about unresolved issues, or your grief may make you angry at them. This is okay.
  • Remember that you may need help with the healing process. Consider talking to a certified therapist if you are struggling.

Trying to Find Comfort While Grieving

Dealing with grief can be incredibly challenging; and talking with a deceased loved one can be one way to find comfort. It's also an opportunity to take some time for yourself. Additionally, you may find solace in reading comforting poems about death and simply sitting in silence. There's no wrong way to grieve.

Talking to the Dead for Healing and Comfort