Communication between the worlds is hard. Heck, communication just in this world is hard.
The internet may make us feel connected, but do you speak any other languages? People who have learned to speak other languages have learned to think in a different way, because the available words shape what you can think about. Sure English tries to adopt every concept it trips over, but we are constantly finding new ones we hadn’t considered. Add cultural differences on top of the language differences, and miscommunication abounds.
Even with a shared language, men and women don’t seem to be able to communicate well. There are some fundamental ways we use words, gestures, even what we don’t say that has traditionally meant that men and women often don’t understand what the other is trying to get across. Some people naturally speak at different rates than others. Those who speak more slowly feel those who speak more quickly are rushing them, a verbal form of crowding and invading their space. Those who speak quickly feel that if the other isn’t responding, they should explain again, or try to get the slower speaker’s attention, since they are “unresponsive”. Some people are direct, others are more comfortable with subtle hints. Cultures often teach different ways of speaking to show status, often related to age, gender, or income. Every generation comes up with new ways of speaking simply to differentiate themselves from the previous one. Even with close friends and family, we can suffer serious communication issues.
Thus it is hardly surprising to think there may be difficulties in “transmission” between those on other planes- like the gods, or spirits- or even our own beloved dead. How much does personality change when we die? Those who speak to the dead, psychic mediums, don’t always agree. There seems to be both continued affection and interest the dead have for us, but also some detachment. It’s nice to think that when we cross over we’ll gain perspective and be less confused about what we did in our lives. We miss our dead loved ones, and long to communicate with them. I personally feel that I have had the opportunity to speak with the dead in dreams. Even those not particularly psychic dream every night, which lowers our conscious resistance to experiencing communication, and I think the dead like coming to visit at that point. I’m not sure how much “useful” information is passed (like “where did you leave the life insurance papers?”) but they seem more interested in reassuring us that they are fine, and not to worry about them. Certainly those who’ve seen the dying speak to “invisible” loved ones have reported that they seem to be reassured and soothed by these visits.
Those who have seen ‘ghosts’ have often been unaware that the person was dead, they seem to have been physically there, even have hugged the person, or moved items; only when someone else comments on not seeing them, or mentions that they’ve died to they realize that it was a ghost. Raymond Moody’s work with psychomanteum have shown great success at helping people communicate with the dead. It seems that we simply need to learn how to do it, and, of course, to consider why we want to do so. Resolving old issues between people when one is dead seems an excellent reason to put in the effort.
When we reach out to our recent dead, or to our ancestors, we really should know why we are doing it. Are you just checking to see if it’s possible? Do you REALLY want a chance to say goodbye or make peace? Are you trying to reassure yourself that some conscious part of us does, indeed, live beyond our current bodies? When approaching ancestors, are you looking for help? Many seem eager to help their descendants, but at the same time, if you haven’t worked on your relationship with them before asking for help, it may be like asking an uncle you’ve never visited for a loan. It is wise to give if you hope to receive. I often look at the epic stories of those who turned to the dead- often someone know for their ability to prophesy, Odysseus called Tiresias, Saul had the woman of Endor call up Samuel, Odin called the Volva, all to get more prophesies out of them. All of them seemed pretty annoyed to be called back. If a dead friend visits you in your sleep, or a medium tells you a loved one has a message they want passed along, that’s the dead approaching the living. But while it seems possible to communicate with the dead, one should always approach them with respect for their person-hood and agency. There are few bigger mysteries than what happens after we die (or before we’re born, for that matter), but don’t go pestering grandma with foolish questions. She probably wouldn’t have been happy about it when she was alive, and odds are she’ll be less thrilled when she’s dead.