Are Cemeteries Haunted?
When anyone thinks of a cemetery at night, most people’s minds bring up images of dead hands pushing up through the ground and spirits wandering slowly through the silent tombstones leaving a chill in their path. But if you’ve ever visited a cemetery during the night and sat there objectively thinking for a moment, not letting every horror movie you’ve ever seen surface to the forefront of your thoughts, you’d notice a cemetery at night is quite…peaceful. I haven’t run into any boney hands grabbing at my ankles and I haven’t seen a spirit floating amongst the stones (but some have). I have seen and felt a few strange things, but why is it that everyone thinks just because it’s a cemetery, it’s haunted?
It’s only natural that the first place any human thinks of when looking for a haunted place is a cemetery. After all, the typical ghost is thought to be the soul of someone who has passed on, and where do we keep our dead? A cemetery. So if we’re looking for ghosts, they have to be in the graveyard…right? Some will argue a big, “No!” and tell you to stop wasting your time in a cemetery. Why would any ghost want to hang out around their decaying body? There’s a light to go to! Ghosts don’t have time to waste sitting around a lonely cemetery. But then there’s another argument.
Humans associate the cemetery with their loved ones who have passed on. They visit the grave, bring gifts, flowers and speak to the departed. Essentially, some people feel we sort of “keep” the spirit there because of our associations. Or as Kenny Biddle of PIRA very nicely puts it, “Perhaps they [cemeteries] are not haunted, but visited” by those who have moved on. Maybe our minds sort of take off the helmets when we enter a cemetery because of the type of place it is and communication with the other side becomes a little easier or more possible then it does on the outside." The theories are endless. So whether you feel cemeteries are the most haunted places on the planet or the least, write us and share your stories and opinions.
By Kenny Biddle of PIRA
Recently I read an article in which an investigator is asked about misconceptions of hauntings. This investigator says he "laughs when I hear about people going to graveyards to find ghosts. Why in the world would a graveyard be haunted?" Why? Why not?
Let's look at a simple response to that question. Why would a ghost haunt anywhere? If there is an afterlife, it's gotta be more interesting then here. But come on, this is not a science with clear-cut rules. The habits and traits of ghosts can change with every case, with every sighting. Cases differ from residual haunting to interactive spirits, all the way to footsteps that go from the second floor to the third but then one night they are heard going from the third to the second. Who knows why that ghost changed its mind? My point here is that ghosts are absolutely the hardest things to predict.
So why in the world would a ghost be hanging out in a cemetery? For starters, let's think about our relatives that have passed on. For many of us, we know that they are buried at -fill in the blank- cemetery. This is also the place we go to visit them, leave flowers or little reminders, to talk to them and to show kids and grandkids that this is where we remember them. We still follow our religious beliefs and say that they are in a better place, but we still associate that grave with the deceased. Well, while we're there, we're putting out emotional energy. Tons of it! Remembering the good times, wishing they could've been hear for some event, missing them. That's a lot of energy, and I would think that that might draw the spirits to us. It would be like a family reunion. Assuming that they can see each other, I would expect grandparents that have passed on to act just as they did while they were alive, showing off their grandkids to other spirits!
Another reason could be that a cemetery might become something like a social gathering. "How could that be?" you say. Well, let's say that spirits, those that are free, can and do see one another. Many cemeteries are quite beautiful. So after a visit from the family, these spirits may decide to stick around and just enjoy the scenery. You might laugh at this, but who are we to decide what spirits do? They act as we do, by doing what THEY want, not what we think they should.
But, you may still persist, why would the same ghost haunt the same cemetery, night after night? Well, to be perfectly honest with you, I don't know. Who does? Not any of us living, that's for sure. Maybe it’s because of some of the things I mentioned above, or perhaps they just like to sit and watch people walking about or the cars pass by. I have had the good fortune, as well as others in my group, to witness one such ghost. In the Forest Hills Cemetery in northeast Philadelphia, I have seen the apparition of a man I have nicknamed "Abe." This is due to his appearance each time he has been sighted by me, as well as the others I have worked with. He is always seen in a tux complete with a top hat. He has been seen during several investigations and also reported by residents in the area. E-mail from these residents express relief that they are not the "only ones to see this man." This is why I believe that cemeteries are indeed "haunted." Perhaps they are not haunted, but “visited”. Our research so far has turned up a possible ID on the apparition, but I cannot reveal it out of respect to his still living wife and family. That alone may be why he stays. He's waiting until the day his wife joins him and they can both move on together.
One last theory as to why a cemetery may be haunted is that this is a spirit's physical connection to this life on this world. The headstone may be the only memory of them that we have. Don't get me wrong, I know that they live in our hearts and we remember them through pictures and video and even letters they wrote. What I'm saying is, this is how I remember them. When I walk into an old cemetery for the first time, I know nothing about it. After spending several hours there, I begin to recognize names and dates from constantly wondering around. If something happens, I write down the headstone that is closest to me and to where it happened. After my visit, I know a half dozen people who lived a hundred or more years ago. I know who they were married to and when they were born. I even talk to them when I'm sitting, like many of us do, for the hours during the ghost hunt.
So, can cemeteries be haunted? I would have to say yes, but not every one of them and not all of the time. I have been in a few that showed no results what-so-ever. Maybe I'll go back at a later time, but it's not on my to-do list. When you get into this field, you need to have an open mind. You also need to be skeptical, but above all else, try not to get tunnel vision. This means don't laugh at people just because they have a different view or a different idea of how something works, especially when dealing with the UNKNOWN.