How to Haunt Your Loved Ones


Welcome to the afterlife!

What’s that? This isn’t what you were expecting?

Yeah, we get that a lot here.

No pearly gates, no streets of gold, no many named Peter with a list checking to see if you’re supposed to even be here?

We’re still scratching our heads on that last one. What a cruel system. Imagine it! You’re walking on clouds towards what is clearly a paradise, but there’s a gate running around the damn thing? That’s just cruel.

Am I getting into this place or not?

I could have been a better person, a better son or daughter.

Waiting nervously, while Peter flips through the biggest book imaginable. Anxiously standing there as he flips through the angel-hair thin pages for an eon while you stand there, stewing in your nerves.

Meanwhile, the line behind you has grown several thousand miles longer.

Then, after what feels like an eternity, Peter looks up at you, a sad look on his face, shakes his head, and whispers, “I’m sorry. You’re not on my list.”

Are there bouncer angels helping you find your way back to the staircase away from heaven, the one going down, down, down? We mean, if there’s ever a time in one’s life when you’d likely dawdle, we imagine it would be as you walk away from the little podium, the weathered old man with his enormous book.

As you retreated back along that line, past the faces that arrived while you stood waiting for Peter to look up your fate.

At one point, just to break the silence, did you make a joke?

I guess you guys haven’t heard about a little thing called the internet, huh?

If you did, when you walk away, do you wonder if it was this joke that cost you your soul.

But no, that place was eternally old-school. No computers there, thank you very much.

Once we worked out how long one would have to stand in line to wait for, a single person mind you, to look up your fate. Assuming he was able to find your name in the book of life in five seconds. You’d stand and every five seconds you’d shuffle forward a foot or two. We worked it out that you would be standing in line for a period of time that dwarfs your entire life.

I mean come on! Open a second lane already. Get a computer. Maybe a ‘self-checkout’ lane? (Would that rely on the honor code? Surely no one would cheat and walk into heaven when they did not find their name in the book.)


Pardon us; we enjoy a joke now and again.


And what about those that aren’t Christian? Say you were a Buddhist (or any one of the ten thousand other systems of religion designed to differentiate their believers from all others). We always thought man’s incessant dividing and subdividing was ironic.

No waiting room to reincarnate?

No bulletin board listing postings of ‘next-life-opportunities?’

Seriously though, what’s with your lot and the endlessly classifying and dividing? Do you all not see the irony? Religion, from the Latin roots, literally means to ‘bind together.”

Re-ligare: to bind again.

No waiting rooms.

No purgatory.

No listings of where you might incarnate next as though your time on earth was only a cruise or a jaunt.


Who are we?

That’s an excellent question. Mostly we don’t remember, but our current working theory is that we are just the ghosts that have been here the longest.

This place isn’t much to look at.

And here’s a spoiler for you. We don’t all see the same thing. That blew your mind, didn’t it? Some of us do see a waiting room. Some of us see spirits when we look at each other. Some of us just see lights. When we first got here, we saw people in the bodies as we are accustomed to seeing them in life.


That over there, oops. Pardon me. We forget sometimes, it takes you new arrivals a second to take in all that’s going on or not going on here (perspective is everything!). Ahh, there you are. You see where I’m pointing now, right? Good. Excellent. I see a hole in this space. You might be seeing it as a door. Either way, that is a way out of here. We say ‘a’ because this place is enormous. We suspect that it is infinite, so perhaps there’s another exit somewhere. You’re welcome to explore for as long as you want.

What’s that?

Oh, no. I’ve never seen anybody re-enter this space through that particular door. But, as we said, there might be another.

Now that we think about it, it’s a funny question. If someone were to re-enter that door, we doubt we would recognize if it was someone who had entered by the door you came in. To us, we all look like soft glowing cores of light.

The door you entered by?

That’s another good question! At this rate, I doubt you will want to stay with us for a very long. It takes many a very long time to ask such questions.


So, you’re leaving us already?

Well, we sort of figured you might not stick around long. But before you go, we feel obligated to tell you a bit about what we expect is on the other side of that door.

No, I think you will want to hear this. We don’t remember our lives, but we’ve been here a long time. Longer than you can imagine. If you guessed billions of years, we’d laugh at you. If you said trillions, we’d likely laugh even harder. It’s an absurd, meaningless question. To compare the passage of time here with its passage on earth is pointless. They are in no way equivalent or comparable.

This will only take a few moments.

If you wish to sit…

Oh, you just think chair and one will appear.

Excellent choice. That does look like a comfortable chair, we think.

Now imagine sitting in it.

There you go!

We always start with the chair, because the next bit is a little tricky concept for most people to get right away, but you seem quick. We like you. We are not sure how we feel, but we think we might be sorry to see you go. It’s not something we’ve felt before. We think you might have fit in here. But more importantly with us.

We see your mind is made up, so we won’t try to talk you out of your decision to leave.

We just need you to close your eyes, now. Of course, you no longer have physical eyes anymore. You’re a spirit, a fragment, maybe a ghost even. We don’t put much stock in labels here.

That’s almost it. Just think ‘close my eyes,’ that usually helps. What we are after is a shutting down of your normal mode of perception.


Are you sure we can’t convince you…

Oops. Please excuse us. There weren’t any instruction manuals here when we arrived, but we sense that we were being too familiar, maybe even ‘pushy’ but we can’t remember what that word means.

Okay, keep your eyes shut. We are going to show you what we see, what we expect is through that door. Ready?

Here we go.



That bright body in front of you? That’s IO, one of Jupiter’s most prominent moons. But when we came here, it hadn’t been named. Neither had Jupiter. It was a long time ago. We start here, because if we just put you back onto earth, it would overwhelm you.

We’ve had some… incidents? Yes, we like that word. Incidents.

Okay no pay attention to IO. Or say goodbye, we should say. We’re going to approach earth now. It won’t take the years you’re imagining, but neither will it be as fast as light travels. No label adequately describes the pace at which we move, but we have strong opinions that this is the speed at which your ghostly body might move through space. But that is only if you are an experience ghost. You can move this fast as a new arrival, but it’s hardly ever in a straight line. Remember being a baby? We do. You have to crawl before you can walk. And you have to walk before you can run. What we’re showing you is neither crawling nor walking nor running. We’re showing you our full out sprint. A feat accomplished only by the most experienced of ghosts.

Just relax and watch the show. We’ll be on earth soon. We’ve chosen to show you the most direct route from IO to earth, but with some energy towards not boring you to death. We will pass through the asteroid belt, skirt by Mars on our way home.


That wasn’t too bad, was it?

We urge calm before we finish our descent through the atmosphere. We’ve chosen a simple place to land. If we were to land some place with too much stimulus, you’d quickly grow emotional, want to attach to such things, want to interact with the physical world, talk to a human. Instead, we begin in a dry barren desert.

The name? The name doesn’t matter. It’s one within the United States. That’s all you need to know. We will take you to your home, but we must do so slowly.

If you thought you were shaky when you crawled and walked, you haven’t seen anything. As a ghost, your connection to the material world is beyond shaky. Imagine trying to balance your way across a dance hall floor that’s covered with motor oil and huge ball bearings. You got that image in mind. Trust us, it’s actually less stable, thane that.

The key, we expect, and again, we’ve not been, but we are smart and we’ve been here a long time, so we advise that you listen to us. The key is patience and nonclinging?

Yeah. We agree. Those weren’t our strongest attributes in life either.

No, you didn’t say that to us. You’re not losing it, but we can see your entire life now. No human, outside of a very rare one or two, were naturally patient, naturally non-clinging people. You’re in, well, we’re not sure we’d call it ‘good’ company, but you’re not alone, okay.

If you go back, you must learn to float softly above it all. Don’t attach. Don’t wish for you body back. If you do that, you’re sliding across that floor of oil and marbles and before you know it you’re out to IO or beyond again… in an instant. Great irony of the afterlife, you can move faster than light, but only when you foolishly try to hold onto something. And it’s nothing you can control. It’s utterly random.

And here’s the bad news.

Don’t get sad. You can always stay with us a bit longer, until you feel ready to return. But you want to see your loved ones. We can see that in you. Again, you didn’t ‘say’ it to us, but we can see your mind, the essence of who you were. Are. Whatever.

You want to see your loved ones. But you must just watch them. No longing or bam, bam it’s IO and beyond.

If you long for, feel happy or sad, or in any way cling to the moment, you will jettison away from them almost certainly.

If you find yourself in space, just return to IO. We imprint it strongly in you before you leave because it is far enough to encourage patience and trust us, we all need more of that. But not so far as to make haunting your loved ones an impossible task.

No, we don’t mean ‘haunt’ in any negative sense. We’re not sure why we always say that word when we show new arrivals this stuff. It’s something we’ve done. We’re not God. You didn’t think that did you? Because we want to go on record of saying we are definitely not God. We have more opinions on that whole topic, but you’re not ready for that. Not by a long shot.


That’s it. That’s all we have to show you. To recap: be patient, don’t attach, and try not to desire. And when you fail at this and found yourself floating aimlessly in space, with no clear idea of where you are. Be patient, don’t’ attach, and go easy on yourself. It will take you some time to orient yourself in space. It’s quite dark. And everything is so far away. Just think IO, IO, IO, and you should find your way there after a period of time. But don’t attach. Time passes even for ghosts. So when you look at your sister or nephew and you feel something and then it’s swept away in an instant, you can find your way back. But usually, time has passed. Sometimes it’s only a few hours. Especially for more experienced spirits. Sometimes it might take you decades to regroup, make your way back to IO, find the landmarks, that will eventually grow familiar to you, and make your ghostly way back to them. And if it’s been decades, they will no longer be where you left them. They might not even be alive. It’s a rough life being a ghost.

Now, now, it’s not all bad.

Here are a few more tips. We like you, we have hope for you. When you zip off uncontrollably into space, don’t’ panic. Yeah no human dreams of being a spirit so that they can float aimlessly in space for hours or decades. We were all sold the same silly romantic nonsense. We could effortlessly revisit our loved ones. Stand near them, watch them, comfort them, etc. It’s nonsense, but you already knew that. That was one of the reasons you were ready to leave right away. You recognized that there is nothing in this place. There is just waiting. There is nothing material here. No lovers, no pizza, no sunsets, nothing.

When you find yourself hurled through space again, relax. Enjoy the beauty of it all. Trust us, this is key. It’s paramount that you learn to love all of it. Again with out attaching to any of it. You were a material witness before your death. One that could interact with reality. Now, you are only a witness. Enjoy that! Truly it’s all you have now. When you float around IO or temporarily lost, and we’re never sure we emphasize this bit enough, you will get lost. You won’t remember to think ‘IO,’ and you will float without direction. Relax and enjoy that too. There is a beauty in all that emptiness. A stark and subtle beauty, but find it. Find that beauty and everything else becomes a snap.


NOTE: I really should never publish something this fast. Seriously. The idea came to me this morning. I got ten pages down in a few hours. It’s rough. (Understatement of the year.) But I was looking for feedback on this one. This one I think has legs. And I’m inviting you to help me make those legs bionic! Thank you!

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