Stunning Proportion of Americans Report ‘Interacting With Dead Relatives’

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A stunning proportion of Americans recently reported “interacting with dead relatives” through dreams and other means, according to new survey results from the Pew Research Center.

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In fact, more than half — 53% – of Americans have had such interactions with deceased loved ones, with that proportion saying they’ve interacted with the individual in a dream or through “some other form.”

Parsing through that statistic a bit more, 46% of Americans reported the interaction happening in a dream, while 31% said it unfolded another way, Pew noted.

Some of the other metrics only add to the intrigue, as 34% said they’ve “felt the presence” of a deceased loved one, 28% have told this person about their lives, and 15% said they’ve had a deceased family member “communicate with them.”

And for anyone pondering the frequency of such encounters, 44% of Americans said they had at least one of the aforementioned experiences unfold over the past year.

The data does come with some caveats. Respondents weren’t asked for explanations that would shed further light on their self-reported interactions with deceased family members.

Thus, Pew noted there’s no way to tell whether respondents view these moments as “mysterious or supernatural, or whether they see them as having natural or scientific causes, or some of both.”

The differentiator here comes, for instance, from dreams versus more overt communication attempts. It’s one dynamic to have a dream about a favorite memory involving a dead family member; it’s another issue entirely to believe that a family member has tried to communicate in the temporal space.

It’s also important to note Pew found Americans with medium levels of religious adherence and commitment are more likely than those with low or high commitment to report feeling the presence of a deceased family member.

“People who are moderately religious seem to be more likely than other Americans to have these experiences,” Pew wrote in an analysis. “This is partly because some of the most traditionally religious groups — such as evangelical Protestants — as well as some of the least religious parts of the population — such as atheists and agnostics — are less likely to report having interactions with deceased family members.”

Just 34% of agnostics and 26% of atheists report being visited by or interacting with a dead loved one. Meanwhile, 42% of evangelical Protestants said the same. These proportions were much higher for historically Black protestants (67%) and Catholics (66%).

The polling results bring up an important reminder: attempts to communicate with the dead, known as necromancy, are precluded in the Bible. Leviticus 19:31 (NIV) reads, “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.”

It’s unclear if these practices led to any Americans’ responses in this survey, but considering the subject matter, the topic is certainly important to consider.

Pew collected the survey results from March 27 through April 2, 2023, among 5,079 U.S. adults. Read the full analysis here.

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