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A qualitative exploration of sensing the presence of the deceased following bereavement

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2013
Issue number4
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)339-357
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date18/07/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The present study sought to explore the meaning-making people engage in with regard to their experience of sensing the presence of the deceased and to focus on the experience of sensing the presence of the deceased through one of the sensory modalities. Interviews were carried out with eight bereaved adults. Transcripts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Analysis identified four superordinate themes. ‘There’s only one person that ever did that’: Sense of presence as a unique and personally distinctive experience referred to participants’ descriptions of the nature of the experiences reflecting the character of the deceased person or aspects of their relationship. ‘I do believe in all that, I’ve experienced it beforehand’: Prior beliefs and understanding sense of presence consisted of the process participants used to try and make sense of their experiences. ‘It’s not frightening anymore’: The changing emotional impact of the experience explored the different emotional impacts of the experiences. ‘They will look at you like you’re crazy’: The importance of sense-of-presence experiences being validated by others referred to concerns about being stigmatised by others as a result of the experiences as well as positive self-perceptions. The themes are interpreted in the context of previous literature and novel ideas about meaning-making and positive self-perceptions are highlighted. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.