Memorate (Soul of Family Member After Death)

Nationality: American
Primary language: English
Age: 18
Occupation: Canvasser
Residence: Echo Park, CA


MM’s father was on his death bed. His aunt, his father’s older sister, was taking a plane from Pittsburgh to Seattle to see him. Without her knowledge, MM’s father died while she was on the plane. She saw a burst of light flash inside and outside the plane and into the air. She knew in that moment that he had died and that must be him. She made note of the time. When she got off the plane, she was notified by someone in Seattle that MM’s father had died. His time of death was about the same as the time she recorded the light on the plane.


MM was 7 or 8 when this story was shared with him by his mom. He thinks it’s beautiful and really moving. It affirms for him that there’s some kind of soul, and that humans can communicate with each other after death.


This memorate from MM’s aunt is deeply moving and emotional. While the light MM’s aunt saw isn’t a “ghost,” I believe that her account of it as the soul of her deceased brother, as well as the personal and narrative nature of this story, classifies this as a memorate. One interesting element of this memorate is in relation to something Professor Thompson mentioned in class: friendly ghosts are more commonly reported among older people. MM’s aunt’s description of a burst of light, followed by the calm realization that her brother had passed on, makes this memorate peaceful rather than scary. These kinds of peaceful memorates represent the human impulse to make sense of and come to terms with death. Seeing her brother pass on as a bright light allowed MM’s aunt to feel that he was at peace and going to a better place in the sky. As MM notes, the story also demonstrates an idea that the dead can communicate with the living. MM’s father seems to choose to visit his sister in this story, coming to her on the plane almost as if to say, “It’s alright. I’ve passed on, but I want to say goodbye.” This matches with the traits of friendly ghost stories, which are comforting for the living loved ones of the dead.