An idea I encountered repeatedly while doing research for my urban fantasy novel: “The dead want us to tell their stories.”
Why? To what end? What do the dead gain?
I believe differently, but will not preach a sermon here. However, I do wonder where some afterlife ideas originate. What rationales are offered for the presumed existence of ghosts? Just as ancient cultures came up with pantheons of misbehaved, immature gods in order to explain natural phenomena or unknown history, do we do the same with ghosts?
If I adhered to Asian tradition, I’d expect ghosts to carry grudges, wanting revenge. I can understand that, especially if a person died wrongfully, but some of those grudges seem to be anger over a life cut short, before dreams or wishes could be met.
Know anyone who spends their life carrying grudges and blaming the world, and therefore missing out on actually living?
That attitude might carry over to the other side, if what some TV-show folks say is true and the dead are just hanging around, waiting on us to notice them, meanwhile constantly looping through the events that led to their death or lurking in places to which they’re emotionally attached.
But that might mean logic ceases “beyond the veil”. As a living person who has avoided a particular place where childhood trauma and drama occurred, I know I wouldn’t want to spend eternity in a building where I was abused or tortured. Why would I do so just because I were dead?
What do I gain?
I’m reminded of a strange but darkly humorous poem:
Why do they whistle so loud, when they walk past the graveyard late at night?
Why do they look behind them when they reach the gates?
Why do they have any gates? Why don’t they go through the wall?
But why, O why do they make that horrible whistling sound?
GO AWAY, LIVE PEOPLE, STOP HAUNTING THE DEAD
If they catch you, it is said, they make you rap, rap, rap on a table all
And blow through a trumpet and float around the room in long white veils,
While they ask you, and ask you: Can you hear us, Uncle Ted?
Are you happy, Uncle Ted? Should we buy or should we sell?
Should we marry, Uncle Ted?
What became of Uncle Ned, Uncle Ted, and is he happy,
and ask him if he knows what became of Uncle Fred?
KEEP AWAY, LIVE PEOPLE, KEEP FAR AWAY,
STAY IN THE WORLD’S OTHER WORLD WHERE YOU REALLY BELONG.
YOU WILL PROBABLY BE MUCH HAPPIER THERE.
And who knows, what they are hunting for, always looking,
looking, looking with sharp bright eyes where they ought to have sockets?
Whoever saw them really grin with their teeth?
Who knows why they worry, or what they scheme, with a brain where there should
be nothing but good, damp air?
STAY AWAY, LIVE PEOPLE, STAY AWAY,
YOU MEAN NO HARM, AND WE AREN’T AFRAID OF YOU,
AND WE DON’T BELIEVE SUCH PEOPLE EXIST,
BUT WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? WHO DO YOU WANT?
WHO? WHO? WHO? O WHO?
Why haunt the battlefield where I was slain? Why constantly be a murder victim, or re-enact a murder I committed? Why keep trying to tend bar, wandering the front staircase, hanging from a rope?
Who could avenge me once all the folks who wronged me are also dead? If I am a ghost, am I angry with the living simply because they are living and I am not?
Again, if the TV personalities are correct, the other side is not a happy place.
Good thing I believe they’re way off the mark, else I’d live in fear, blunting and darkening my days. Let me live while I’m alive, thank you very much, and once I’m dead, leave me in peace.