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How to Talk to the Dead

Zoë Alexiadis, 18, from Wellington, Florida has a deep spiritual connection with her grandmother. The last time the two spoke was June 2, 2016. Zoë looks just like her grandmother; they both have fair skin and brown hair, which frame their brown eyes. They both stand medium in height and have slender builds. They are one in the same, although their relationship is unlike any other grandchild and grandparent relationship. Zoë’s grandmother died on September 29th, 1998. Zoë spoke to her dead grandmother in a dream.

“She wants to get to know me and she is sorry that all this time has passed and we haven’t seen each other,” says Alexiadis, referencing the conversation she had with her grandma in her dream. In the dream she finds out that her grandmother is alive and living in a nursing home only 30 minutes away from where she and her family live. Alexiadis and her mother walk into the nursing home and she is the only member of the family that her grandmother would like to speak to.  

“Your father has been trying to contact me, but I know that I was not the best mother and I just don’t know how to face him after all of these years,” says Alexiadis’s grandmother in the dream.

Alexiadis, like so many other people can talk to the dead. Although, it would be nice if the steps in doing it were concrete, it is not as simple as that. Connecting with the dead is a very spiritual and emotional task that not every person can do; rather it’s a gift that you won’t know that you have until you try to use it. And only you will be able to know if you truly can connect.

The Healing Effects

Talking with the dead can seem absolutely, 100 percent, completely bonkers. But (there’s always a but), if you could talk to someone just one more time, what would you say? Would you say “I’m sorry” or perhaps “I love you”? Everyone will be impacted by death sooner or later and with the death of a loved one comes a whole slew of emotions to those who are still living. It can cause anger, resentment, sorrow, disbelief and just plain grief to those who are left trying to cope with the loss.

“Learning how to talk to the dead is not like learning how to do a backflip off of the diving board. I don’t know if everyone can do this, my guess is no, but everyone can try,” says Jan Gogh, 67, a theologist and a Presbyterian minister who completed both her graduate and undergraduate degree at Harvard. She has her undergraduate degree in English and completed her masters at Harvard’s school of divinity. She has worked at Massachusetts General Hospital and Shriners Hospital for Kids as a minister. Primarily she has been in the presence of families when their child takes their final breath. In her own words, she is a “deathologist.”

“I myself have experienced what I think is an incredible gift of feeling departed people, including my father,” says Gogh. “The way that I knew it felt very real was because I begged him to stay and he said, ‘I can’t,’ but it was at a time that I needed reassurance. I had fallen asleep and had been crying and he came to me in a dream and he was a great comfort.”

Connecting with a loved one that has passed helps provide people with what they need to continue enjoying life, especially through the process of grief. “We are a linear thinking culture so everyone thinks they should move on in the same order. But it doesn’t work that way, people are all over the map,” says Gogh. “The biggest thing that I can say about grief is that everybody grieves differently. So if this [connecting with dead loved ones] can provide comfort, then why not?” While it is a good reason to do so, frankly you do not need to be grieving in order to talk to the dead. You just need to know where to start.  


Reaching Out

“The context in which I work with people is within their own belief system, so you first have to figure out what that is,” says Gogh. “You know, do they believe that someday we all are going to reunite in heaven and eat fried chicken?” People of different faiths connect in different ways. With this being said, there are also many ways to connect, even for those who are nonreligious. However, every way to connect has the same basic premise: it all starts with the five senses.

Janet Tucker, 62 of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is a mother of two daughters and also a medium. She considers herself to be a middleman between the living and the dead. “In order to connect with people that are no longer with us, you need to let yourself be open,” Tucker says. “Most mediums believe in honing in on your senses.” Theologist Jan Gogh believes this as well. She believes that the key way to talk to someone who is dead is to recall a memory of that person. Remind yourself of how you felt, what you were tasting, what you were doing with your body at the time and most of all the way the environment smelled.

Calling up a memory can be made easier if you continue to talk every day about your deceased loved one. “Without question, it is extremely healthy and very important to continue to speak about people that have passed,” says David Searles, 55, the head pastor of the Central Assembly of God Church in East Boston, Massachusetts. While Searles is closed off to the idea of talking to the dead through the techniques of a medium, he believes that the healing process is different for everyone and that if this is going to help then he is not one to discredit it.

Unlike Alexiadis’s conversation with her grandmother, talking to the dead does not have to be sad. While it can’t be stressed enough that this is an emotional process, talking about dead loved ones and talking to them do not have to be vastly different conversations.


Native New Yorker Melissa Piel is a medium that teaches children how to remain open to their intuition. “Start by asking if the person that you are trying to contact is with you,” says 36-year-old Piel. She explains how this intuition and ability to talk to the dead runs in her family, however she is the only one that has been able to hone it and help others talk to their loved ones who have passed. Piel advises people to make sure that they are ready for what could happen.

“After I woke up from my dream I remember thinking, ‘wow that was very vivid.’ And throughout the entire next day every time I talked about my dream I burst into tears and my body felt so warm but it was a very comforting warm,” says Alexiadis of the dream she had. “It was weird because I have never met my grandma and had no emotional connection with her up until my dream.”

Once you are emotionally ready to try to connect, it’s time to physically test it out. “Make time specifically for it, set an intention and light a candle,” Piel says. “It is almost like turning on your porch light on Halloween, it says this is our time, I am open and making an appointment. Then begin to focus on the flame and ask yes or no questions and see what you feel. It is different for everyone. If the candle flickers they are with you. If it stays still then you probably need to focus a bit more.”            

Janet Tucker, medium of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, uses a pendulum or a weighted object that has meaning to her, which she speaks to in order to connect with the dead. “You learn what yes and no look like for you,” says Janet. She drapes the pendulum over her hand and lets it hang freely and when she begins to ask questions, the different ways that the pendulum sway tells her different answers. “For me, yes is forward and backward,” she says.

If connecting to the dead were easy, everyone would be doing it by now. But the truth is that it’s not. The only person that can explicitly tell if you are connecting is you. Since it is such an emotion driven experience, you have to let yourself be open and try. Zoë Alexiadis, 18, has plans to try to connect with her grandmother again. “I would like to talk to my grandmother again someday,” she says. “I would like to ask her what her biggest regret is.”

Julia is junior attending Emerson College for her bachelor of arts degree in journalism. She is originally from a small town in New Hampshire. She enjoys writing about people and feels that everyone has a story to share with the world even if they don't know it yet. 
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