After Death Communication (ADC)

Someone who has an after death communication (ADC) will see, hear, or feel the presence of a deceased friend or relative in their own space. These ADCs are unassisted and spontaneous, not involving psychics, mediums or therapists. It is most common for an ADC to occur only once to an individual, usually during the first 24 hours after death. The communication experience is one of comfort, often ending the pain from the loss.  The Guggenheims (1995) describe twelve common types of ADCs: sensing a presence, hearing a voice, feeling a touch, smelling a fragrance, partial appearances, full appearances, ADC visions, twilight ADCs, sleep-state ADCs, telephone ADCs, ADCs of physical phenomena and symbolic ADCs.  They also report 79% of the cases occur to individuals who have a close emotional connection to the deceased.  Sometimes, to the dismay of family members, the ADCs occur to more distant health professionals or friends.  Here is a case reported by Lawrence (2014) of an ADC occurring to a nurse after her patient died.

Charlene, a hospice nurse, made her daily visit to Sam to monitor his pain level and his emotional status. He seemed comfortable. Since she had known him, he had been in a hospital bed downstairs in the dining room of his house, a converted bedroom. His wife told Charlene he had finished telling her how to manage the finances in the house, which he had so deftly done all their 43 years of marriage.

That evening Charlene was reading in bed before sleep. The phone rang. The evening hospice nurse called to tell her Sam had died. A feeling of sadness covered Charlene. She reached over to turn out the lights, when Sam appeared at the foot of her bed. He had forgotten to tell his wife about insurance papers he had left in an upstairs bureau. Charlene had not been upstairs in the house but Sam gave her specific instructions about the location of the bureau and the papers. Charlene assured him she would visit his wife and find the papers. Sam then left as quickly as he had arrived. After the funeral, Charlene followed up with a bereavement visit to Sam’s wife. She informed her of the visit she had had from Sam. Curious, they both went upstairs to the bedroom Sam and his wife had shared. Charlene recognized the bureau from Sam’s description and found the insurance papers tucked in a book in the middle drawer (Lawrence, 2014).

Incidence of ADCs

There have been many studies of ADCs. Of course the most popular one is described in Charles Dickens’ book, A Christmas Carol when Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by his former partner, Jacob Marley.  Recent research describes the incidence of DBCs as being between 50% to 80% occurring to family members of recently deceased individuals (Rees, 1971; Grimby 1993;1998; Haraldsson, 1988.) The Guggenheims (1995) estimate 50 million people in the US have had such and experience.

Here are some examples:

Visual ADCs

I was lying in my bed, on my side, crying. This was the evening of my father's death - around 7 pm. I was heart-broken. I suddenly saw my father's face. He was also on his side - looking me straight in the eyes. He was surrounded by light - I could only see his face - and he had a radiant smile on his face. I had never seen him look so happy. I didn't hear anything, but I felt him say "Don't be sad - this is wonderful."  I sat up in bed & he was gone (Diane, 2002).


My daughter had told one of her friends from Sunday school that if she should die, she would like everyone to have a party for her and not to mourn. Her friend reminded us of this statement.So the night of Tina’s funeral, we had a very large gathering at our home with 200 to 300 kids, some with their parents. It was wall-to-wall people!I was passing through the hallway downstairs when I heard Tina say, “I love you, Daddy!” I wheeled around because this was an audible, external voice.… however, this experience took a good bit of the sting out of the loss because you know you really haven’t lost them (Guggenheim & Guggenheim, 1995, pp. 32-33).


After her funeral, I found myself in the living room curled up in a ball, really mourning my loss of her. All of a sudden, I sensed my mother hovering in the room, on my right side. At first I thought I was hallucinating. But then I felt her putting her arms around me, comforting me. She wrapped herself around me like a big, cushiony, warm cloud, rocking me as if I was a scared little girl. I had been really crying a long time, and she calmed me down. There was a feel about her hugs, a nurturing energy, and it seemed it lasted about fifteen minutes.  I knew it was my mother. I just knew it! And I’m very grateful she was there to help me through my pain (Guggenheim & Guggenheim, 1995, pp. 50-51.)

Symbolic experiences    

Daggett (2005) describes an incident a woman who had just lost her husband had while in an airport.  Because of the difficulty with the boarding experiences she wished her husband was there to help.  Just as she made the wish, his name was paged over the loudspeaker system.       Some individuals see animals, receive phone calls with the deceased person’s phone number showing on the answering machine, have spontaneous music start or other types of events that lead them to feel the presence of a deceased loved one.


Sometimes the deceased sends messages that are warnings. Space needed here. About two years after his friend died, Jeff was driving home late at night. He was tired and had fallen asleep at the wheel. He heard a scream, “Wake up!” At that point he saw his dead friend sitting in the passenger seat, aglow with light. Jeff looked to see he was heading straight at a house going 45 miles an hour. He decelerated in time to avoid the accident (Guggenheim & Guggenheim, 1995).

Instant feedback

Which of the following can occur during an after death communication?
Sensing a presence
Hearing a voice
Smelling a fragrance
All of the above