JH is 23 years old and from San Francisco, CA. They are a USC graduate I met a few months ago. They lived in San Francisco for a majority of their life before moving to Los Angeles for school. They consider themselves very superstitious. Growing up, they were really close with their grandmother, and it was very hard on them when she passed away.
“I meditate a lot, and I think that there have been times in my meditation experience—especially when I was dealing with grief, like the loss of my grandma and such—that I felt like a presence was there. And I remember, I was like on a family vacation and I was like sitting in the living room having a horrible day in this like rental house and I was meditating and I was really grieving my grandma because it was only a couple months earlier. Then, all of the sudden, I literally felt like two hands on my shoulders. At first, I thought it might have been creepy, but I didn’t feel a creepy presence, I felt a comforting presence. It felt like my grandma was reminding me that she was there.”
When people hear the phrase ghost stories, they immediately associate that with bad thoughts or bad omens. But that isn’t always the case. For example, as seen with my informant, encounters with the divine can actually be a good thing, and a sign that it is okay. Lots of ghost stories have to do with these supernatural beings keeping people out of what they consider their homes, but for JH, their grandma is keeping her close. On a deeper level, this is a way that people can justify the emotions their having or find closure. Since JH was so close with their grandma, believing they encountered her after she passed away and was reminded of her presence goes to show how affirming ghost stories can be. Looking at ghost stories through that lens can give us a different perspective on how they are being interrupted, and stray away from painting ghosts in such a negative light.