The Ghost of my Mother

On September 20th 2017, my mum died.

My lovely mum was just 60 years and three weeks old at the time of her unexpected death. I wasn’t going to blog about this because there is no way to put into words the utter mindfuck that this experience has been. However, I’ve recently been listening to Haunted – a podcast by Panoply, presented by Danny Robins. It is an incredible podcast which asks why people see ghosts, not just whether they see ghosts and I thoroughly recommend it.

Haunted

In the latest episode, which you can find via iTunes or your podcast app of choice, Danny speaks to people who have experienced the ghosts of people they love who have died. Still reeling from the devastation in our lives from losing mum, this episode was difficult to listen to in parts, but it was utterly heartwarming too; to hear people explain how the idea that the ghosts of their relatives are still around makes them happy was wonderful. It has reinforced, in my mind, that a cup-of-tea approach is the best when dealing with eye-witness reports.

The episode has also inspired me to share with you the experience I had in the days following my mum’s death which shook my skepticism to its core. Very few people know this story outside of those who were there when it happened, and I wasn’t going to tell anyone else because I didn’t want people to use this to point out how much of an idiot I am, how my research is subjective, or how rubbish a skeptic I am. However, having listened to Haunted, I’ve realised that these are precisely the reasons I need to share this story.

Arranging your mother’s funeral is a task I wouldn’t even wish upon the people I hate, and yet it’s a task that many of us will undertake at some point in our lives. Trying to organise a 30-minute ceremony that honours and celebrates such a diverse, important, and loved person is almost impossible.

For our mother’s funeral, we were struggling to pick the right songs to be played during the service. Her favourite song was Sitting on the Dock by Otis Redding, but what about the entrance music? The committal music? The music for the moment of reflection? The exit music? The song? It took a long time to choose the correct music, and during one conversation people began talking over one another and I wasn’t able to get a word in edge ways. I know that I was becoming quite frustrated and upset by this, but before I could become upset any further, something very peculiar happened.

We have two floor lamps in the lounge in opposite corners of the room. They’re pretty new and I bought them with mum just a few weeks prior to her death. Suddenly, the lamp closest to where we were talking started to flicker on and off wildly. Everyone stopped talking at once and we turned to look at it with confusion. Then, after a few seconds, for no reason other than it felt right to say, I said “it’s okay, mum”.

As soon as those words left my lips, the light stopped flickering and continued to work as usual. Our conversation then became more civil and we were able to sort out the funeral planning dilemma.

I still haven’t found a solution for what happened with that lamp. It shares a circuit with other electrical items which were also switched on and uninterrupted. The same bulb is still in the lamp and the flickering hasn’t happened since. It’s a new bulb which was purchased at the same time as the lamp – a few weeks prior to the incident. The other, identical lamp works perfectly, is on the same circuit, bought at the same time with a light-bulb from the same batch and hasn’t flickered like this. The lamp is stable, the plug is in good condition and was fully inserted into the socket. The lamp switch is firm and wasn’t compromised. The wires are intact, and this isn’t a known fault with this lamp type.

Of course I checked – I’m a paranormal researcher.

However, part of me knows that there’s a likely explanation for this encounter that I just haven’t considered, but it’s actually one that I’m not that fussed about discovering, because I very much like the idea that mum might somehow have been stood in the corner of the room shouting “stop talking over one another! Let Hayley speak! Don’t you dare play Fatboy Slim at my funeral!”

I also think she was the reason Theresa May had a coughing fit at the Tory Party Conference this year because she always did say she’d like to her her hands around that woman’s throat…

To summarise, I’ll quote Danny Robins from the latest episode of Haunted:

“When you’re lying in the dark alone, in a strange room, in an old house, it is comforting to hold on to science, to find sanctuary in physics, and to reassure yourself that ghosts probably don’t exist. But when you have just lost a person you loved, when you are that kind of alone in the dark, it is comforting to know, that they might.”

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Hayley Stevens

Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.