The most frequent experience of the deceased was visual. With 303 of our correspondents claiming visual sightings, these accounted for about 67 percent of the reported incidents. 218 of the apparitions were only perceived by sight but in 85 cases the deceased person was encountered with more than one of the senses. Let the examples speak for themselves.
My father died at the age of 67. He was rather short and thin, had a dark complexion but his hair had turned grey. He had a bad temper. I saw him after he died. The door connecting my room and my mother’s bedroom was open. He came in, glanced at me and went into my mother’s room. My mother died much later at the age of 81. She was short, stout, her hair had turned white, very good-tempered, light-hearted and content with little, made the best of things, was kind to everyone. The year after she died I was sitting late in the evening in my living-room and saw her coming. She walked around the living-room and then she disappeared in front of me - right before my very eyes. I was very pleased and grateful for having seen her. (756)
The Police Officer
My husband and I were sitting in the kitchen one morning having coffee when we saw a neighbour of ours come up the steps, right by the window as if he was going home. He was in uniform, had been on the police force but had died in an accident in his thirties. He lived on the floor above. We had been good neighbours for 4 or 5 years. He was about average height, handsome, light-hearted and very easy to get along with. We missed him very much. I sensed him often, but as time passed further from this accident, it dwindled and then stopped. This experience did not have much effect, but it was nice, it was lovely, to have seen him… (764).
Man dressed in grey
I often heard footsteps and a few times I saw the same man, though I did not know him. This happened both here at home and in the hospital where I was being treated. One time, in the middle of the night, I went to the kitchen to heat up a snack, when I heard footsteps that sounded like someone was coming in and then a man dressed in grey appeared in the kitchen doorway. He was a very large man, with an ordinary grey hat, kind and it was like he wanted to let me know something. This made me feel rather uneasy. It did not feel pleasant and I was always a little frightened… (815)
This happened three years ago. I sat in a chair in my room and was reading. Then I looked up and saw my deceased grandmother standing in front of me, as fully was when she was alive. I told my mother about this the following day. She said, “That is nice. It was her birthday yesterday.” I had not remembered it. (5018)
In the next example the perceiver also looks up from reading a book.
Father and grandmother
I had the flu and lay in bed reading a book. I looked up from what I was reading and saw my deceased father’s face. It looked real but it did not look like he was trying to tell me anything. Then I became aware of my father´s deceased mother and I guess he was showing her to me. (293)
The clock from Eyrarbakki
This happened shortly after my father died. I was in bed sleeping but woke up and felt there was something at my side. I saw my father there and looked at him, reached out and touched him. He was just as he had been, wearing a blue shirt over his underwear…. He got out of the bed and walked to the room he had lived in and which was across from mine. As he walked, he pointed to the wall without saying a word. On that wall there was a large clock that he had earlier asked me to deliver to his grandson in Reykjavík. (2010)
Picture on the wall
It happened a few years ago, my sister had been dead for three years. She died at the age of sixty. One evening, when I had turned off the lights, a picture of my sister appeared on the wall at the foot of my bed, not as she was when she died but as she was at the age of seventeen. This was accompanied by a very pleasant feeling and a bright light that seemed to come from behind the picture and illuminate it. Then it disappeared just like when one turns off a camera or a projector. But the light seemed to be within me or somehow inside of me and it lasted for quite a while. (5033)
A man from Nordfjord
I had just started work at sea here in Neskaupstad and did not know all the people working on the boat. We all slept in the fore-castle. We were line-fishing south of the country and I was watching over a buoy. Then I saw a man come up from one of the cabins. I could see him very clearly, both his clothes and his physical appearance. It was quite light and he was standing in the light shining through the open cabin door. He stood there for a while before walking off across the deck. I thought it was somebody who had just started working on the boat and decided to go and speak to him but there was no one there. I did not really give it much thought at the time, just finished my shift. Then I asked the men about it and the man I thought I had seen. I described the man I had seen and the men from Nordfjord recognised the description. This person had died some years earlier and had worked on the boat until he died. I had not known anything about him before that… (7626)
The next story is unusual in that the participant sees the deceased person in the mirror.
In the mirror
My brother drowned when he was 22 years old. I was 17 at the time and afterwards I started seeing him and other things. Two or three days after he drowned I was combing my hair in the hall and in the mirror I saw him - he was wet from the sea and very sad. I turned around and saw him disappear right there in the hall. He had planned to own his own boat and had finished a course in engineering. He was blond, rather tall and coarse, with a big temper but had learned to control it had a strong sense of justice and was kind…. (708)
In the following two cases no person was seen but those who had the visual experience believed they knew what it was about. In the second case a strange movement is thought to be related to a woman who had passed away.
Ball of fire
We had just moved to Hafnarfjord and a colleague of mine, who came from the same area where we were from, called me up and we planned for him to visit next Thursday. The night before, Wednesday, we were both asleep when I was suddenly awakened and all I could see was fire - or a ball of fire - because I did not see the source of the fire at the door. It seemed to be below the middle of the door and spread to the sides and filled the doorway up to the middle of the door.
I jumped up, waking my wife. I grabbed the bedcover because I was going to use it to shield myself from the fire but the fire suddenly disappeared. The next day I found out that this had happened about the same time that the man who was going to visit us on Thursday died. My explanation is that this was some sort of an energy transmission at the time of his death or shortly after. (7003)
The spinning rock
I was sitting in the living room with two others and we were watching television. Then when a certain tune was heard on the TV a spinning rock, next to the TV set, started moving and we watched this happen. The tune was a special favorite of my mother who was dead when it happened. I associated the movement of the rock with my mother; she was telling us she was with us. The rock had belonged to my mother´s mother. I think that my mother never owned it but without doubt had often seen it. (2)
Visual apparitions were usually perceived without any other sensory experience. However, it was quite common for sound to accompany them (47 incidents). In several examples the vision was experienced along with touch (15 cases) or both touch and sound (20 cases). Only three incidents were reported in which the deceased person was both seen and smelled.
In the following two stories the encounters with the dead are experienced as if they are a normal experience. It is only after the deceased person has left that the perceiver realises that they are no longer living.
The fourth man
I met four friends when I was taking a walk downtown and I spoke with them awhile. After our conversation my fiancé asked me what I had been looking at in the window of the shop. I had been looking at the fourth man in the group, but as she asked I suddenly remembered that he had died some time ago. (587)
I was in the kitchen in the afternoon and had just finished breastfeeding my child. I felt weak and sat down. There was a knock on the door and in came my cousin with another man and said: “Hello cousin”. I thought he was more nimble than usual, but he was always an amusing boy and very good-natured. He introduced his companion as our grandfather, who just smiled. My cousin said he was hurrying home and I wanted to go along with them, but he did not want me to. But I was in the hall anyway putting on my coat when the newcomers disappeared. At that moment my mother arrived and she did not see a thing. While I was talking with my cousin I had forgotten that he was dead. He had drowned a few months earlier when he was about twenty. He had planned to go to navigation college. I was very frightened to begin with, but later it did not have any effect on me, either good or bad. I did not look upon this as a haunting. (596)
The accounts above were transcribed from recorded interviews. Only a portion of the text has been displayed – the core of the incident. Repetitions and near meaningless words have been deleted but nothing else has been changed or removed. The next three accounts have been printed in full length, just as they were told, verbatim.
Meeting on the stairs
It was about a week after my mother was buried. She died here in the house in the attic. She had a room there. I just met her on the stairs. She had just had a stroke – a brain hemorrhage – so she moved slowly and used to move to the side when she met someone on the stairs. In that incident she moved just as usual. It was so normal. Of course I knew immediately that I had made a perceptual mistake or something else. And I kept walking upstairs and it did not have an effect on me. That was all but it was not unclear or anything. I saw all of her and it had a good effect on me or something like that.
This happened in the year 1955. My wife was sewing. I went up the stairs and told my wife about it immediately. Afterwards I continued walking upstairs because I knew right away that this was in some way normal. She was dressed pretty much the same way as usual. The stairs are quite narrow and I saw that her skirt touched the upper step, and then I looked up and saw the whole picture. She was wearing normal clothes and looked just like she did before she died. That was it really - I just saw her. I looked up and just saw her, first the skirt and then I looked up and decided not to stop. I just kept going upstairs and did not look back because I was sure I would not see any more. It happened at the end of the day, as it was getting dark, but it was not that dark on the stairs. It was as if we had met on the stairs. I went past her. I think I looked back when I got to the top of the stair. I walked slowly up the steps – I did not stop. I seem to recall looking back down – but she would have been downstairs by then under normal circumstances. We met on the third or fourth step. (361)
I lost a young boy and have seen him at least twice around here – very clearly. I was so surprised myself that I said “Beggi dear” and walked towards him. I saw him through some bars between the lounge and the kitchen. I walked around from the kitchen, past a solid wall and into the lounge beside the kitchen. At the time I had forgotten that he had passed away. I know that his grandmother had seen him at my house. The boy was nine years old and had drowned two years earlier.
His grandmother was alone at my house, and when she saw him she simply told him: “I think you should use the time well and go and play in your room”. And that was that.
When I saw him I was on my own at home – alone. I was washing the kitchen floor and suddenly I saw him through the bars in the lounge and I just felt him looking at me. I have seen him twice, always at the same place. I was washing the floor and I just looked up and it felt as if he was just standing there, looking at me. I especially remember the second time it happened. Then I said “Oh, Beggi dear” and ran into the lounge and then I just realised how far fetched it was, and thought to myself: “Oh well then, that´s alright”. He was wearing his normal clothes he had here. He suffered a violent death, drowned along with a girl. They went together the two of them. He was just as I remember him – he was not sad, but not laughing either – just sort of normal.
How long did I see him? No, it cannot have been long. When I looked up and saw him I took a long look and it took me a while to realise – but I walked over and then he was gone. But I remember I was so surprised that I stared for a while – did not say anything. It was just for a moment. I saw him close to me but through the bars. I was not thinking about him or anything – even had the radio on. It was in the middle of the afternoon. I seem to recall it having been a bright day. He disappeared as suddenly as I had noticed him.
It is really strange. The fact is that the girl who died with him had lost her mother half a year earlier. We lived in a different apartment buildings and the girl lived in the building across from us. When she had lost her mother she seemed to look to me for support and my boy and she became best friends. It was great fun to listen to them. They were always talking about God and God and God. The mother was supposed to be there and they talked about it a lot just before he died – only a few days before. He was a bit introverted. It was hard to get close to him as they say. Then one morning he said: “I dreamt about God last night”. “Well, son” I answered, and thought it was quite funny, “What did he look like?”. “That does not really matter”, he replied and we never found out. But he had definitely had some sort of dream because he was very thoughtful and said: “I dreamt about God last night”. He was quite introverted and not very social.
Some say that it is all finished when you die but I, on the other hand, have always taught my children that there is something on the other side. Yes, and my boy believed it – because her mother had died and then when they would also go there they would all meet up. Yes there is a life after this one.
I was not thinking of him especially when it happened – I have often thought of him more. He kept things secret and was not a very social type of person, and quite introverted for a child. To tell the truth, he died a very unhappy child. There´s no doubt about it. He was not learning to read properly so the principal suggested that I move him down a class at school, and that is what I did. He had only been there for a few days when it happened. And there was so much crying, endless crying taking him to class. And then I take him down there that last day – to school – and the boy cries and behaves badly and was quite stubborn. The principal comes along and says that such boys need to be taken care of and lifts him up rather harshly and says that children are not supposed to control their parents. No, I say, that´s quite right. And there could be a reason for him being like that – his father drank a lot… and you know. So I said to the principal that I was against that sort of behaviour. Then he comes home that day and the following day he is supposed to go to school again. And then he says: “I am never going to school”. And he ran down all the stairs and said: “I wish I was dead, I wish I was dead”. And that evening he died. Those were his last words as he ran down the stairs. I had not felt sad when I saw him, because probably two or three years had passed since he died. (1066)
Father in the chair
My father died a sudden death in the year 1969. Now he often sits in his chair at home. I don’t think it is not just my imagination. At least, I walk past the chair and do not sit in it when he is there. This has happened quite often, especially soon after he died. He died very suddenly, just came back home, lay down on the sofa and died. So it happened very quickly. He died in their bedroom but I have never seen him there. After that I felt for a long time that I was trying to overcome it. But I felt that he was always trying to come towards us.
She, my mother, and both of them, lived not far away. When I was coming over and still to this day, I often felt that he opened the door and came to greet us. I think I can say for certain that I first saw him shortly after he passed away. It was around Christmas time. We came over on Christmas day for an evening meal. It was hard for me, I felt he had to sit in his chair and somehow I had not quite realised that he was gone. It is hard when people go so quickly. He was a healthy man, you really did not expect it, but death will not be mocked.
The first time I felt that he had approached me was just after he had died. My mother had heart problems and was ill shortly after his death. She came to our place and stayed at our house first after, but then she wanted to go back just before Christmas. She left the hospital just before Christmas – and really wanted us to come over for a Christmas meal. But I went over before she went back and cleaned the apartment and then he simply greeted me when I approached. And I was not scared of him. He was strong in this way. People probably differ in how they seek worldly contact after they die. I do not know. He was very religious.
I know a man in the next house. He claims that he has often seen my father there. I do not know, but perhaps the deceased differ in how strong they are in making themselves felt. Maybe it varies how much the deceased look back. I really believe there is life after this life. Other people have not seen him at the same time as I have seen him. I did not have that pleasure.
A friend came over and a couple was here and a few of us were sitting together. Then the friend comes into the kitchen – I was making us coffee – and says: “Did your father like music?” He said the father had been playing and was sitting here in the chair. I did not know what chair – this furniture is old stuff from them. It had always been with them and was passed on to me. I did not know if this was related to that. So I said to him: “Yes, he did enjoy music”. “Yes, shows that he does”, said our friend.
When I first saw him at the house I told my husband about it. He said something like: “Wow, it did not take long”. Then I replied: “I am not surprised, for my dad was helping me”. I think he took it more as a joke but I said: “I often feel he comes to greet me”, and he said: “I have felt so too”. He had been out on some errand.
But as I say, people are different personalities – but I have seen him, there is no question about it. I have also smelled him, a scent related to him, he took snuff. I have smelled tobacco. To tell the truth, I do not really think much about these matters but I have never in my life been scared of them. When I saw him he was exactly as when he was alive, just wearing his normal clothes. He was an extremely calm man. I just felt he was there and I saw him - met him in the hall that first time. I expect I did not see him for long. It is hard to put a time on such things. However, I felt he was around me the whole time. I felt it was very normal and quite alright. I told my mother about it; she just smiled and said: “Well, well”.
When I saw him he was about one or two meters away from me. He just came towards me as soon as I opened the door to the hall. That is, opened the front door to my mother´s house and then he was right in front of me.
The light in the hall came from the bathroom where there was a window to the east and from a southern window facing the front door. The hall was quite bright – although this was in December. I guess it was around the middle of the month but it was still quite light. It was probably between three or four in the afternoon. When I opened the door I felt it was perfectly normal for him to be there. Then suddenly I realised: he was dead. Then I felt that he followed me around. We had been close, talked a lot – perhaps that is why we had a closer relationship than is typical of a father and daughter – I do not know.
My father was 76 when he died. He had been a skipper and ran a fishing company in Olafsfjord for many years. He was very religious – most definitely. He believed in the afterlife. I do not know if I was thinking of him especially before I met him in the hall that day. I was first and foremost trying to get what I had to get done as fast as possible. He was very knowledgeable about genealogy and I had been saying to him about two months before he died that now he should use the time and write down his genealogical table, as much as he could remember. And he had just started doing this when he died. It was a shame to lose that ocean of knowledge. He was an especially good-tempered man. (593)
At this point, many readers will wonder: Did people see what they perceived with their eyes open just like they perceive any other thing or person in sight? We asked about this specifically. The answer was ‘yes’. People did not hesitate to state that this was indeed so. 272 informants, 90 percent of them, said they had seen the apparition with their eyes open. Only two had their experience with their eyes closed and 12 perceived the dead as if in their mind’s eye. 16 people reported not being sure how the vision had appeared to them.
A man who is well known in Iceland describes his encounter with a friend who was one of the most famous poets of the past century:
I was in hospital and it was either just before or just after I had my operation. I think it was before. It was in August and the weather was very good. I was looking out of the window at the clouds as they kept changing shape and I could see all sorts of strange figures in the clouds. That was pretty much all I had to keep me occupied, lying in bed, I had my own room. I do not know but I must have been influenced by something. I was very calm, looking at the clouds, thinking poetic thoughts which did not really surprise me. Then I sensed a strong force and I saw a grey-patterned jacket in the southeast corner of the room, no man but just the jacket and I smelled tobacco. I knew who it was, both sensed it and I knew the jacket as well as the smell. This man was David Stefansson. We were great friends and acquaintances. I could feel that strong force from the southeast corner which moved to the northwest across the bed and over me… (2210)
And now there follow several short accounts.
I worked aboard a boat called Gotta. The first time I went to bed a man looked me in the eye. I guess he was about 27 or 28 years old. I saw him clearly. He had brown eyes and a pale complexion. He was calm and seemed to feel fine and he had on an English cap which leant to the right. I could only see him down to his chest. He just seemed to sit there in the bunk to the side… (7005)
This was a few years ago, on Christmas day. The man I thought I had seen, or his outlines, had died the summer before. He was an old man related to my brother but my brother and his family were visiting that day. I was walking from lounge into the hall, and then I felt this man standing there. I knew him immediately. He was rather unusual in his appearance and very strongly built. I felt I saw the outlines of his body but then they disappeared. I was quite shocked and went into the kitchen to calm myself down. I saw the exact outlines in a room where my brother´s daughter was playing. She was very favoured by the old man who was almost a grandfather to her. But then it happened again in the evening, when I had quite stopped thinking about it. It happened in just the same way and in the exact same spot. I thought that was quite strange. (7574)
I often perceive images of deceased people. Sometimes I wake up in the night and notice these things. One night I awoke and sat up in bed and saw my mother-in-law´s stepfather standing at the bed at my wife´s side. He had passed away many years ago. I had never met him alive. I only saw him that one time but I have often sensed his presence. (2136)
I have only once seen the vision of a dead man and it was in a place where I had never been to before. I have also felt a touch, a sort of feeling of heat, like a light or warmth on the side of my head or my cheek, and I saw something like a light shadow, which of course is a paradox but I saw this white or light “shadow”. I have often sensed my grandfather, Haraldur Níelsson, sometimes many evenings in a row and sometimes for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. (5034)
In his chair
My father always used to sit in a specific chair in the kitchen. Some time after his death when I came home and opened the kitchen door, I saw him sitting in his chair. I could not touch him, I only saw him. He did not say anything, he was simply there, sitting in his chair like he used to. (2017)
A beautiful woman
I bent down to tie my shoe-laces. I was on my way out, when I felt someone standing beside me. I looked up and saw this woman very clearly, she was very beautiful and I felt as if I was standing there staring at her. I thought she was connected to me in some way but I did not recognize her. I also somehow knew that she had died a long time ago. I remember quite well how she wore her hair and the clothes she wore…. (2008)
A little distracted
I was in a house the other day. I saw an old couple there, and it was later confirmed that they were the housewife’s grandparents. I also heard them. I have often expeienced this, seen, heard or sensed the presence of the deceased. One is always a little distracted when things like this happen. (2005)
What a beautiful child
I have only had a psychic experience at one time. It was regarding a boy who died when he was four years old and happened about half a year after he died. My husband was his grandfather. I once lay awake in bed at home and was wide awake. Then suddenly I saw a child´s face and thought to myself: “What a beautiful child”. At the same time I felt myself thinking: “Oh, that´s little Siggi” and at that he disappeared. (2024)
My husband´s friend
A few of the men in the village were going to a country dance and my husband was among them. I myself was in such a state that I could not go and that was fine. They were going to get there by truck and they were going to stand on the back of the truck. When the car got to our house and stopped there were about five or six men in the back. It was during the spring and the evening sun was shining. I stared at one of the men. The sun was shining on his hair. I could not believe my eyes. I also knew all the other men, they were friends of my husband and this man had also been my husband´s friend but he had died during the autumn. He was standing there looking happy but suddenly disappeared when the truck started up. (307)
An old friend
We were renovating an old house that we were living in. My husband had gone out and I was alone and lay down on a sofa. I was wondering what it would look like when it was finished. Then I heard a knock at the door and I opened it. Outside the door was an old man who used to live close to me when I was a child. While alive he used to come over to this house quite a lot, but now he was dead. I was not surprised to see him when I opened the door and he did not speak to me. He simply thought, you know, I understood and I did not speak to him with words but with thoughts. “What are you doing here?” “I´ve come to stay with you, Magga dear.” I said “There´s no space for you here now my friend, you can see what this place looks like.” I felt he was a little angry with me: “I will have to come back later then”, he said and went out and slammed the door. He was standing there just as if he was alive, in front of me, wearing nice dark clothes, a white shirt and tie, in his best suit, as they say. He was in good spirits and just as I remember him. He was happy when he saw me and called me “my dear Magga”, as he used to do when I was a child and I used to spend time with him. I was surprised that he wanted to come… (7606)
This was after my mother died. I had a little child out east in Litli-Saurbær in Olfus, where she had lived. This was in the evening and it happened very suddenly. I was in my mother´s bedroom. She appeared to me and I rushed out of bed and said:“Mummy!” I felt her come to me and hug me. I did not hear her, only felt I saw her. But this happened so quickly. I was a little frightened, although she seemed to be just as she used to be and she seemed to be welcoming me… (2054)
I remember a very clear incident. At that time I had a shop. I was at home drinking coffee when a tiny little boy comes over. I imagined he was about 10 years old. He stood there for a long time looking at me. I saw that this was a bit unusual and other than it should be. It was obviously a boy who had passed away and was not alive. Then he disappeared. I did not know why he had been there but I was a bit of a spiritualist back then, and actually I still am but not in the sense that I was at that time. We often spoke about such things in the shop back then and perhaps the shop was some sort of tiny lighthouse for those souls who were roaming about somewhere. (5029)
An old woman died in my home village. I had known her well since I was a child. She died in a house in the middle of the village and there she was “kept” in a room in the house, as they used to do, as there was no morgue there at that time. I was walking down the road. It was bright and sunny and I was walking along the road. I cannot remember if it was the day after she died or one of the following days. Anyway I met the lady outside that house and walked a little towards her and I nodded my head towards her, just as you do when greeting. When I met her I was completely unaware of the fact that she had died. I had quite forgotten about it. It was just like normal. But as soon as she had passed by me I thought to myself: “How can that be? Thorgerdur is dead.” That was her name. I looked right back but then I could not see her… I remember the incident so vividly. (5114)
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published May 2012
Size: 229 x 152 mm