After-death communications often appear in works of
fiction too in novels, theater plays, movies, and television shows. However, we
usually see ADCs without acknowledging them for what they are. We regard them as mere
"literary devices," creative inventions of imaginative minds, that are used as
vehicles to assist in the telling of a story.
But why do ADCs appear so consistently? What is their
source of inspiration? Are they possibly more than just fiction?
Angels Of September by Andrew M. Greeley (1986)
Anne Reilly is a beautiful and intelligent woman in her 50's who operates her
own art gallery in Chicago. Dick Murray, her high school sweetheart, was killed in his
first day of combat in Germany during World War II. He makes 6 full appearances to her
during the next 40 years.
The most recent one occurs at a beach in full sunlight
when Dick sits down beside Anne, touches her face with his hand, and winks at her before
departing. To Anne, he is "as real as anyone on the beach."
Another of Father Greeley's novels, Rite Of
Spring, contains detailed accounts of two full appearances a deceased wife makes to
her living husband, Brendan Ryan.
Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward (1941) Both of
Charles' deceased wives, first Elvira and later Ruth, unexpectedly come back and stay
on in his home. He's the only one who can see and communicate with them.
Their eternal triangle creates great friction in this
farcical British comedy. The situation is further complicated by Madame Arcati, a well
intended but deluded medium, who adds great spirit to this madcap play.
Bluebirds by David W. Frasure (1978) In
this metaphysical love story, Kris McDaniels dramatically enters the lives of Allison
Haynes and her family members. Kris and Allison quickly develop a very loving, spiritual
relationship, but he dies soon in a construction accident.
Kris appears to Allison in a sleep-state ADC and assures
her he will always be close by to help her in all ways possible, if she will only remember
to ask for his assistance.
Captains And The Kings by Taylor Caldwell (1972)
Fleeing famine and English persecution in Ireland, Daniel Armagh immigrates to
America. He sends for his family several months later, and his pregnant wife, Moira, sails
steerage class for New York with their two sons. Shortly after giving birth to a daughter,
Moira is severely ill and sees Daniel, joyfully stretching her arms out to him before she
dies. She had no way of knowing her husband had died of lung fever two months earlier.
Though this is an ADC, it's more properly classified as "a death-bed
Carousel by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
II (1945) In this hit musical Billy Bigelow, the barker for the carousel, loses his
job, marries Julie Jordan, and learns he will be a father soon. Out of desperation for
money, he participates in an unsuccessful robbery and takes his life just before he's
Fifteen years later, Billy is allowed to return to earth
for one day to complete his unfinished business. He makes a full appearance to his
daughter, Louise, who was born after he died. Julie senses his presence and sees him for
At his daughter's graduation, Billy speaks to Louise
and Julie, inspiring them, as everyone sings the hope-filled song, You'll Never
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)
This story contains the best known example of a fictional ADC in English literature.
Cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who
died seven years earlier.
Marley's body is transparent and encircled by a
chain of money boxes and other valuables. He must wander through the world, earthbound,
for having valued money more than mankind.
Marley returns to tell Scrooge that he has a chance to
escape a similar fate, and will be visited by Three Spirits who will help him.
A Death In The Family by James Agee (1938)
One evening Jay Flollet is killed instantly in a single-car accident. Hours later, his
widow, Mary, her aunt, Hannah, her brother, Andrew, and her mother, Catherine, all sense
Jay's presence while they are mourning his death together. Only her very rational
father, Joel, doesn't feel the presence of his deceased son-in-law, and he dismisses
their experiences as hallucinations. Shortly afterwards, Mary and Hannah sense Jay's
presence a second time, when he returns to visit his two young children, Rufus and
Catherine. And finally they all have a group discussion of what they sensed and felt.
At the end of this novel, Andrew tells his nephew, Rufus,
that as they were lowering his father's body into the ground at the cemetery, "a
perfectly magnificent butterfly settled on the coffin." Just as the casket touched
the bottom of the grave, the sun came out and the butterfly "flew up out of that hole
in the ground, straight up into the sky, so high I couldn't even see him any
more." And he concludes by saying, "If there are any such things as miracles,
then that's surely miraculous."
The Family Circus by Bil Keane (continuous)
This popular cartoon appears in the daily and Sunday comics section of many American
newspapers. It occasionally features Jeffy's grandfather, Al, who has died. Al is
sitting on a bed in front of his widow, Florence, as she's talking to him, 2/19/89;
he's seen in Heaven listening to what his grandson is saying about him, 8/20/89; and
he's seen in the background when Jeffy tells his father that he heard his granddad
say, "G'night, Little Buddy, and God bless you," 9/12/93.
Al is sitting on a couch with his left arm around
Florence and his right hand holding her hands, 6/23/91, and he assists her when she's
lost while driving her car, 4/5/92. And there are many more recent ones too.
Fiddler On The Roof by Joseph Stein (1964)
Golde's and Tevye's young daughter, Tzeitel, has been promised in marriage to
the wealthy butcher, Lazar Wolf. But Tzeitel wants to marry the poor tailor, Motel
Without Golde's knowledge, Tevye gives Tzeitel his
permission to wed Motel. Now he must inform his wife and face her wrath. He manipulates
Golde by pretending to have a sleep-state ADC in which her deceased grandmother returns to
say that Tzeitel should marry the tailor.
This "dream" is usually acted out on stage in
their bedroom. Golde accepts the guidance from her grandmother who has been dead for 30
years and allows her daughter to wed the tailor.
Audiences of this hit Broadway play accept this
presentation of an ADC as a plausible event. Unfortunately, the movie version places this
scene in a cemetery and portrays it in a ghostly manner.
The Golden Bird by Hans Stop (1987)
Eleven-year old Daniel is terminally ill with cancer and confined to a hospital. His
deceased father visits him to calm his son's fears and remove his pain. When Daniel
makes his transition, his dad comes to takes his hand and they leave together.
Gump & Co. by Winston Groom (1995) In
this sequel to the best-selling book and blockbuster movie, Forrest Gump, Forrest
has a series of visual ADCs with Jenny, his deceased wife, who gives him practical advice
when he needs it most. And even his son, little Forrest, has an ADC with his deceased
mother, though he calls it "a dream."
Hamlet by William Shakespeare (circa 1600)
In this very evidential ADC, it's believed that King Hamlet of Denmark suffered an
accidental death from being bitten by a snake. Now deceased and wearing a suit of armor,
he makes a full appearance to his young son, Prince Hamlet.
He reveals to his son that he was murdered by his
brother, Claudius (Hamlet's uncle), who poured a poison into his ear while he was
asleep in an orchard. Claudius' motive was to marry Gertrude, the Queen of Denmark
(Hamlet's mother), and thereby become the new King of Denmark himself.
King Hamlet orders his son to avenge his death, and young
Hamlet swears to do so. But first he must prove to himself, beyond any doubt, that his
father has told him the truth.
King Hamlet makes a second, brief appearance to his son
later in the play, to remind him of his pledge.
The House Of The Spirits by Isabel Allende (1982)
This international best-seller recounts three generations of a wealthy family in
Chile. Ferula makes a full appearance in front of five people, touches her sister-in-law,
Clara, and kisses her on the forehead before anyone knows she has died.
Later, Esteban sees Clara, his deceased wife, frequently
and hears her laughter. Clara also appears to her granddaughter, Alba, and gives her a
reason to live when she is imprisoned. This book shows how commonplace and accepted ADCs
are in other cultures.
Illusions by Richard Bach (1977) After his
friend, Donald William Shimoda, is killed in the cockpit of his plane by a shotgun blast,
Richard meets him again in a sleep-state ADC. Don continues Richard's messiah
training, and he promises they can meet again whenever Richard has a problem and needs his
help. Don also suggests that Richard should consider writing a book this book
about their adventures together.
Les Misérables by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel
Schönberg, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg and
lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer (1990) at the end of this very successful play, as Jean
Valjean is dying, two women who had died earlier, Fantine and Eponine, come to escort him
to the light. They are joined in the background by all those who had died at the
Littlejohn by Howard Owen (1993) Littlejohn
McCain, a farmer in rural North Carolina is 82 years old and awaiting death. As he is
actually dying, he sees many of his deceased loved ones who have come to assist and
welcome him as he makes his transition. These include his parents; his wife, Sara; his
brother, Lafe, who died at 19 from an accidental gunshot wound years earlier; his other
brother, Lex; and his two sisters, Century and Connie.
The Little Match Girl from Hans Christian
Andersen Fairy Tales, selected and illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger, and translated by
Anthea Bell (19th century) Alone, without money, starving, and freezing to death on
the streets of a big city, the little girl lights her unsold matches for warmth.
Her deceased grandmother makes a full appearance to her,
and when the little girl dies, they soar together to Heaven where the little match girl no
longer feels any more hunger, cold, or pain.
Rainbow In The Mist by Phyllis A. Whitney
(1989) During this romance-mystery, Donny Mitchell, age six or seven, has an ADC
with his mother, Deirdre, who died in a fall. She appears to Donny and reassures him she
is happy, tells him he shouldn't cry for her, and that he must learn to let her go.
Remember The Secret by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
(1982) Suzy and Peter are children who are best friends with each other. They are
also close to two "imaginary playmates," Theresa and Willy.
When Peter dies, Suzy sees him with Theresa and Willy and
realizes all three of them are her guardian angels. She can also hear Peter when he speaks
The Return Of Peter Grimm by David Belasco (1911)
In this popular Broadway play, Peter Grimm, the family patriarch, dies suddenly
from a heart ailment. He returns ten days after his death to correct a mistake he made
He seeks to release his foster-daughter, Catherine, from
her promise to marry his nephew, Frederik. Only William, age eight, can hear (and later,
see) Peter, though several people are affected by his presence.
This play was inspired by an ADC David Belasco had with
his mother who made a full appearance to her son, kissed him, and spoke to him.
Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw (1923)
During the final scene of this play it's 1456, twenty-five years after Joan of Arc
was burned at the stake by the Church for heresy, witchcraft, and sorcery.
Portrayed as a sleep-state ADC, Joan and others make full
appearances to King Charles the Seventh of France in his bedroom. Joan learns the Church
has exonerated her of her crimes the first major step towards canonizing her as a
saint in 1920.
A Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert in his book
written in French, Three Tales, (1877) translated by Walter J. Cobb Madame
Aubain became a widow when her husband died in 1809. A few years later, her young
daughter, Virginie, dies of pneumonia and Mme. Aubain is heartbroken. Shortly afterwards,
she sees her husband and daughter standing next to each other in her garden.
Stonewords by Pam Conrad (1990) Soon after
Zoe, age 4, begins living with her grandparents, she meets a deceased young girl, Zoe
Louise, who becomes her best friend. Zoe Louise had lived in the same house over 100 years
Several years later, Zoe travels back in time to protect
Zoe Louise from dying in a fire on her 11th birthday. This story is an excellent example
of a child who has an "imaginary playmate."
Tilly by Frank E. Peretti (1988) In this
short novel, Kathy has a long out-of-body ADC and visits a lovely young girl who lives in
another world. She learns this child, Tilly, is her daughter who she has never
known because of the abortion she had nine years earlier.
During their extended reunion, Kathy receives forgiveness
from Tilly and from Jesus. When she awakens, Kathy is healed of her guilt and filled with
peace in her heart.
Walk In My Soul by Lucia St. Clair Robson (1985)
This historical novel portrays the life of Tiana Rogers, a member of the Cherokee
who are forced to leave their home in Tennessee and move westward along the infamous Trail
of Tears. Her young daughter, Gabriel, dies of yellow fever.
Later, when Tiana is feeling lonely and questioning her
life, she feels the presence of her deceased grandmother, Ulisi, and hears her voice in
her head. Ulisi tells Tiana, "You are never alone, granddaughter.... Gabriel is here
with me. We are not far from you."
Whalesong - A Novel About the Greatest and Deepest of
Beings by Robert Siegel (1981) Hruna, the young leader of a pod of humpback
whales, has an ADC vision from which he receives teachings from Hralekana, a white
humpback who was the spiritual leader of the pod. This is a very well written spiritual
When You Can Walk On Water, Take The Boat by John
Harricharan (1986) John has an out-of-body ADC with his father that is very
reassuring and joyful. As the two men talk at length, his father explains why he died, and
shares various aspects of life after death. This account is based on an actual ADC
experience the author had with his father.
John has written a sequel, Morning Has Been All Night
Coming (1991), in which he and his children have ADCs with his deceased wife, Mardai.