My brother Michael’s love was radiating like a physical presence
I’ve only ever shared this with my family and my closest friends. I was afraid people would think I was mad or deluded.
But reading Santa Montefiore’s account of how her sister, Tara, appeared sitting on her bed one night, six months after she had died, I thought: ‘Yes! So it’s not just me who has been visited by a loved one from beyond the grave. I am not mad, I am not alone.’
It was around two o’clock in the morning, seven years ago, when I woke to find my brother, Michael, sitting at the end of my bed. My big, beautiful brother, who had died from cancer nearly three decades earlier.
There he was, clear as day, his comforting smile full of kindness and reassurance, a smile that told me everything would be all right, he was here.
It was around two o’clock in the morning, seven years ago, when I woke to find my brother, Michael, sitting at the end of my bed (Stock Image)
In life, Michael had always been my protector, watching over me as I grew up, chasing off unwanted suitors — sometimes with a loaded shotgun — roaring up in his V8 car and dragging me out of parties when I was a teenager, the worse for wear.
He had sat beside me as a 17-year-old, holding my hand after we’d both been in a terrible car crash. A drunk driver had veered on to our side of the road and hit us head on. Michael, who was injured himself, was there as I was wheeled into surgery and stayed by my hospital bed as I recovered.
And now he was back reassuring me. I was in despair, that deep, dark place only those who have fallen into it can even begin to understand. I was not just sad, but in a depression so deep I could neither write nor sleep, and had to take three months off work.
I was plagued with nightmares. In the darkness I found myself crying out silently, pleading for someone to help me. Michael had answered my call.
This was the Michael I had known decades ago before his cancer diagnosis, before he became so thin and ill. He came to me as the big strong brother who had always protected me with a cheeky smile and a reassuring hand held out to me.
At first, I thought I was hallucinating, dreaming, wishing, but I swear he was there. And to prove it to me, he appeared many nights afterwards, in the same place at the end of my bed, the same hand extended, the same reassurances that I’d pull through.
So here comes the weird bit. I could actually see him. He wasn’t a wispy ghost. He was there in some kind of physical form, same large bulky frame, the same beard he grew to cover the terrible scars he got on his face in the car crash, the same mischievous, reassuring green eyes, the same auburn curly hair.
He was not a shadowy ghost, he was there in three-dimensions and in Technicolor.
I could feel his hand on mine — a helping hand to drag me up. Most importantly, I could feel his love radiating like a physical presence, filling me with hope, a love that existed in life and now I believe even in death.
And in a way that defies words, I felt he was actually giving me his strength. I felt an energy, a warmth, a strength pass into me to overcome the darkness, which I did.
Say what you want about this, call me insane, dismiss it as just a dream, say whatever you like, but I know Michael came to me again and again, until I was well.
So, thanks Michael. I couldn’t have got through it without you.
Nan was smiling and said: ‘I’ve come for your mum’
By Sue Churchill, 64
In 1986, my mother, Violet, was very ill with cancer. It was only a matter of time before she passed.
I visited her at home, nearby in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, every day after my husband came home from work and could take over the childcare. I was in my late 20s and we had three young children to look after and, while my mum loved her grandchildren, she didn’t want them to see her so weak.
It was a difficult time. I knew instinctively that Mum was dying, but she didn’t know, or, if she did, she didn’t let on.
She even used to ask me why I was coming round every day. She talked about how we could go shopping together when she was better. She stayed positive.
One afternoon, I was crossing the landing when I glanced at what used to be my parents’ bedroom (Mum was now being cared for in one of the other rooms).
In the doorway, I clearly saw my grandmother, Grace, just standing there with a gentle smile on her face. She had died some 20 years earlier. She said: ‘I’ve come for Vi.’
It was a shock but, surprisingly, I felt very calm. I paused for just a moment and then continued back in to see Mum.
At that point, I knew she did not have very long, so seeing Nan brought me comfort. Mum’s death would be heartbreaking, but I knew she wouldn’t be suffering for much longer — the doctor had told us she had less than a week — and when she passed she would be with her mother and others who loved her.
In the doorway, I clearly saw my grandmother, Grace, just standing there with a gentle smile on her face. She had died some 20 years earlier (Stock Image)
Dad came back to make sure mum was coping
By Sara Walmsley, 56
My parents, Ray and Pat, were married for 48 years and still very close when my dad was taken ill and died within three weeks of a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukaemia. Mum was devastated at losing the love of her life.
They had moved to Spain from their home in Preston, Lancashire, but we talked regularly, and she told me that when she had an afternoon nap on the sofa, she would often wake up and see and feel my dad sitting on the other couch watching her as she awoke.
I know this was a comfort to her, and am absolutely convinced he was making sure she was managing without him there.
EVEN MY DAUGHTER SAW the man in the trilby
By Carole Albon, 84
My father, Rob, was a sunny character, who always wore a trilby and had a green cardigan.
During World War II, the local vicar once given him a gift of a packet of cigarettes as a ‘thank you’ for keeping everyone in the bomb shelter entertained the evening before during an air raid.
He died of cancer aged 66, more than 50 years ago. I have always missed him.
Two days running, years after he died, I saw something by the bottom of the stairs in our house in Romford, East London.
I couldn’t say it was a man, more a shadow. It was just a fleeting sight, but for some reason, I thought he was wearing a green cardigan.
I thought I was imagining it and didn’t tell anyone. Then my daughter, Sarah, who was around 17 at the time and had been born after my father died, said she kept thinking that someone was standing at the bottom of the stairs.
I asked what she had seen and she said it was a man wearing a hat. I immediately thought of it being my father, as he always wore a trilby — and I like to think it was him.
I woke up to find my dad standing right next to me
By Jean Rowland, 70
After my dad, Jim, died in 1995, I had vivid dreams about him.
He was a strong, fit military man — a Dunkirk veteran — but by the time he passed, aged 76, he had suffered from heart failure and had lost a leg through circulation problems.
In my dreams, he was first in a wheelchair, then back on his feet. It was as if my imagination was restoring him to the man he had once been in his youth, I guess.
The night I woke up to find him standing beside me was different: it was no dream.
It was just a few years ago, when something disturbed me around 2am. I opened my eyes to find him standing beside me in the darkness. I wasn’t scared. For some reason it didn’t seem at all extraordinary or unusual.
I felt very emotional and, without speaking, I communicated that I really missed him. He said he knew, but he was always around looking out for me, and whenever I hear an accordion playing I would know that was true.
In my dreams, he was first in a wheelchair, then back on his feet. It was as if my imagination was restoring him to the man he had once been in his youth, I guess (Stock Image)
He used to play the accordion when my sisters and I were young, and I learned to play, too — it was always a bond between us.
The encounter can’t have lasted more than a few seconds.
My husband, Brian, was fast asleep beside me and I didn’t wake him. He’s a down-to-earth Yorkshireman and he’d probably have thought I’d gone mad.
The next day we decided to go with some friends to a food festival near our home in Wakefield. As I got out of the car, the first sound I heard was an accordion. It was being played to accompany a performance by Morris dancers.
I’m sure it was my dad, sending me proof that what happened was real. It still brings me comfort to think about it.
My husband’s late wife gave me her blessing
By Angela Thompson, 82
My husband, Nicholas, is very psychic and often sees people who have passed over.
His first wife, Anne, died many years ago, and he became involved with a woman who was not right for him. He always felt that his late wife was still watching over him, and would often talk to her.
We met and married ten years ago through my best friend, whose husband is my husband’s cousin. I had met his late wife several years previously and we got on well.
About 18 months after we were married, we were sitting in bed, reading, when he looked up and said: ‘Oh, Anne has come; and there is a little orange dog beside me. The dog is licking my hand, and Anne is smiling.’ After a minute or so, he said: ‘They’ve gone. They came to say goodbye, and they know we’re all right.’
I believe the little dog was my adored apricot poodle, Rupert, who had died three years before I met my husband. He and Anne had obviously decided we could now cope without them.
I just wish that I had been able to see them as well.
My mother sat calmly on my bed as if to say ‘it’s OK’
By Eileen Simmonds, 78
Towards the end of her life, my mother, Hannah, and I were not on good terms. Then, on a May Bank Holiday, my brother rang to say that the doctor had phoned for an ambulance to take her to the hospital.
Along with my family, I caught a bus to my brother’s home. The ambulance was outside their house, which was on a very long road. Being stubborn, I didn’t rush to catch up with it.
By the time we reached the house, the ambulance had left. We went straight to the hospital, but she died before we got there. I was obviously upset and felt incredibly guilty that I hadn’t taken the opportunity to see her alive.
A few weeks later, I woke up to find my mother sitting on the end of my bed. She didn’t say anything, but just looked calm and serene. I felt some of the guilt lift from me.
My mother was only 59 when she died, but I felt she had come back to say: ‘It’s OK; I understand.’
Many years later, something similar happened to me again. It was some three months after my husband died, when he was just 50, and I was in holiday with a girlfriend in the U.S. I dreamt that I had managed to save my husband, David, from his heart attack. I woke up and I had a feeling of happiness, then realised it was just a dream, and went to the bathroom.
Seconds later, I could hear my friend shouting my name frantically. She had seen David standing at the bottom of my bed. Had he come to reassure me?
It was a shared, very spooky experience which unsettled us for quite some time afterwards.