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The Loved Ones “Ghosts” Leave Behind

This past weekend I had a profound experience. One that has sort of changed my view on ghost stories, ghost hunting, paranormal investigating, and haunt jaunting in general.

Let me start by giving you some background first.


I’ve shared before that my Aunt Pearl, who I never met because she died before I was born, was murdered in New Orleans. She was shot in the head in a hospital parking lot. Whoever killed her was never found.

My Aunt Pearl, dressed for a night out somewhere. The date on the back says 1964.

Whether her ghost roams that area, or perhaps even one of her old homes, I don’t know. (Because who knows how it works when you die, right? Do you haunt where you died or where you loved spending your living moments? There are accounts involving both…people haunting where they died, and haunting where they lived even though they didn’t die there.)

I’ve often wondered how I’d feel if I found out my Aunt Pearl was a ghost. How would I feel about people telling ghost stories of her? How would I feel if people who thrill seek via ghost hunting tried to get their kicks by looking for her? Would I be mad she was part of their cheap thrills? (I’m not knocking on all investigators, mind you. But there is a difference between those who ghost hunt for fun and those who do it because they’re genuinely trying to find evidence of the beyond and make sense of it. The former is looking for pseudo scary fun, the latter is not.)

Putting myself on the other end (as the family member of a ghost) leaves me conflicted. On the one hand, I think it’d be cool to have a ghostly relative. But I’d also be fiercely protective. I wouldn’t want people getting cheap thrills at my dead relative’s expense.


If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I play tennis. My USTA 2.5 team headed to Memphis this past weekend for the State Championships because we won Districts here in Nashville.

Over the weekend I had a chance to talk to some of the girls on my team a bit more off court. (Our USTA team was just sort of thrown together. We’re all on different teams in another league we play in and wanted more game time, so we formed a team. We don’t really even know each other all that well. Although, after this past weekend that’s sort of changed.)

Over lunch Saturday, one of the girls shared a story with me that rocked me to my core. She’s very religious and has expressed curiosity in what I do with Haunt Jaunts. She never seemed judgmental like some people of deep faith can, but I could tell something troubled her when I talked of my odd travel inclinations. (ie. Jaunting in search of haunted places, where, most times, it’s haunted because of a violent death.)

Early in the season I remember her asking, “But what about the family members of those who’ve died violently in the places you travel to. Do you ever see them?”

I remember thinking it was an unusual question. It’s an issue I’m sensitive to, but have never been asked before. I told her, “I’ve never had that happen yet exactly.”

She then went on to explain her father had been murdered in a robbery. She said it would cause her great dismay if people went to the store where he’d been killed looking for evidence of his ghost.

Like me with my Aunt Pearl, she’s not aware there’s any paranormal activity where her dad died. She was just speculating that if there was since he died a violent, unexpected death and something of him remained behind, she wouldn’t like people “thrill seeking” at his expense.


When my teammate shared her story, my heart broke. She loved her dad fiercely. She was furious some thug had ruthlessly murdered him and snatched him forever out of her life. (The man who did it was caught, but he admitted he shot her father first, then robbed him. He also admitted her father had done nothing to provoke him to shoot first. He just wanted him dead, and he then wanted whatever money he could scrounge off his body. Total scum of the earth!)

Sitting across the table from her, I saw the face of all the people who have loved and lost. Some loved ones have passed on themselves, leaving only the memory of a tragedy they were once connected to behind. Years pass, the stories grow, legends form.

Before this weekend, I jaunted in search of such legends. There’s a romance to tragedy. That’s what drew me.

I confess, part of it has been cheap thrill seeking, too, though.

But it’s also been more than both of those things. I want answers.

I want to see if I have another experience like I had in that hotel room at the Shiloh Inn or the bathroom at Harry’s. I seek what many of us do, whether we believe in ghosts or not: to know if there is anything beyond this life. Or when we die is that it, the most final, complete ending of all?


I’ve never meant any disrespect to anyone when I share the stories of haunted places or the people connected to them who are now suspected to be ghosts within them.

If you haunt jaunt or ghost hunt or investigate, do you ever think how would you feel if the “ghosts” you’re so eager to try and “catch” were your relatives? Would you talk to them differently? Would you extend different considerations during your investigations?

And what if you come back as a ghost? Would you appreciate people treating you the way you treat ghosts when you’re out looking for them?

Have you ever thought about it from this perspective?

Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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19 thoughts on “The Loved Ones “Ghosts” Leave Behind

  1. Actually, I have thought much about this myself. Probably one of the reasons I don’t go on a lot of “ghost tours” (though I’ve been on a few) as I struggle with the idea of money making at the expense of spirits that may be stuck, for lack of a better word.
    Paranormal investigators, and you’ve even seen it on the ghost hunt shows, sometimes catch an EVP that says sounds like a voice saying, “leave”, or “get out”, or something like that. It seems they automatically assume that means the entity wants *them* to leave. But what if that’s all the energy the spirit can muster up in order to communicate with the living, and what it’s really trying to say is that it wants to leave, that it wants to get out of that place? I’ve asked some investigators their thoughts on this and it seems a question they don’t like to answer. It concerns me. While I too want evidence and answers, I also want to help, not just the living. But more and more I get the sense that folks feel helping their ghosts to move on and find peace would be “bad for business”, because it is such an attraction.
    So, I’m not sure what we do with this.
    Devastating story about your teammate. ? I can’t even imagine being in her shoes. I know that you felt for her, because that’s just the kinda person you are.

  2. This is very interesting and something I’ve never really thought about. I’ve never meant any disrespect for those who have passed or their families when I’ve been somewhere “ghostly”, but I can see the points you brought up here. Something to think about.

  3. Courtney, I’m glad you brought this up; I’ve given much thought over the past 20 years about this very issue, since I began researching some real ghosts from what is now a famous haunted place. The location was MADE famous by the restaurant owners, who decided to make the most of the hauntings to promote their business. What was once a family home is now the Catfish Plantation in Waxahachie, TX. Years ago, psychics told the original restaurant owners that the house held 3 ghosts, called “Will” , “Carrie” & “Elizabeth”, the latter supposedly a bride killed on her wedding day in the 1920s. Not an accurate tale at all. Only a story repeated for so many years in books or on TV programs, it’s become accepted. After in-depth historical research over several years, I found who the spirits actually are,& have corresponded with direct descendents to confirm my findings. The 3 spirits were real people, named Eliza Herrod Richards, her son Jesse Thomas Richards, and his wife (Eliza’s daughter-in-law) Sarah Della Richards. Eliza died 1925, age 77,of natural causes. No murder ever took place at this location. Real people , real spirits, but their deaths & ghosts are(in my opinion) not for entertainment of the public. How would we feel if it were us? Or our relatives?

  4. P.S I was active in several ghost hunting groups some 8 to 10 years ago, & have gone on ghost tours as well. Am somewhat guilty of “thrill seeking”, then. It IS amazing & mind boggling to experience the paranormal, or what some think is impossible, firsthand.

  5. I’m the author of a ghost story fiction trilogy umbrellaed under the series title of Blue Truth. The first book is out now (Blue Truth:Bleed Through). I have a different view of paranormal activity and of ghosts in general. I’ve experienced visits from relatives who are long dead. One such visit was from an aunt dead for more than 10 years who contacted me to let me know another aunt was dying and wanted to see me immediately. I took the trip to visit my dying aunt and managed to spend 3 good days with her before she died on the last day of my visit. This aunt had been badly injured in a car accident a couple years before. It was the result of these injuries that led to her death. I’m a firm believer that there is an explanation for the existence of ghosts and their need to contact the living — we just don’t know what we don’t know so we can’t definitively say how or why we experience paranormal activity. My belief is that we may some day find that ghosts aren’t truly “stuck” here. It may be that they step back into our plane from a a nearby plane. I’m a believer in String Theory physics. There’s a pretty firmly accepted rule of physics that states energy is constant in the universe. Likewise it has been documented that people who die lose 21 grams of weight immediately upon dying. The speculation is that this is the soul — which I believe is pure energy. This energy remains in the universe, therefore the essence of the people we love remain with us forever. And I believe they come in contact with us by choice, not because they have no options.

  6. Very interesting thoughts, Pamela. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing them. I believe there must be some reason for ghosts too, but I’d like to see more people really trying to find those reasons. There are many who could derive a lot of peace from knowing why their loved ones remain behind. Perhaps. If they’re actually remaining for a reason and by choice. The last thing anyone wants is to find their departed loved ones in distress. Again, thanks so much.

  7. Hi Nancy! Your comment may very well be referenced in another post I’ve got brewing. One of the biggest dangers of haunt jaunting I’ve encountered is the made up story passed off as fact. I love that you dug farther to find the truth behind the ghost story you referenced in your comment. Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Me either, Cathy. I mean, to some degree I always have thought of this, but not to the magnitude I started to after talking with my friend. It really brought a lot of things home, you know? Thanks for the comment!

  9. Oh, Kimberley, the “leave” or “get out” EVPs always make me wonder. For the same reason you stated, because what if they’re asking for help leaving, not telling the living to get lost? But also it could be a warning about “Hey, if you die here it’s dangerous. You’ll get stuck too. No escape!” I really love your comment. And thanks so much for the nice way you ended it. I love that you know me so well like you do!

  10. I have to admit that I know little about ghosts – I, for whatever reason think of them as living only in very old places. I remember stories from Niagara-on-the-Lake where I lived for awhile but they all referenced homes that were well over a 100 years old.
    The whole violent death & ghosts is new ground for me.

  11. I expect, if there’s an alternative world, a home, we’re in a far more advanced state there. Too advanced to be bothered with the silliness of the ones still remaining here. If I were dead, I think I might be slightly amused at thrill-seeking ghost hunters. But who knows…

  12. Much enjoy others’ comments, & also love this site!
    I looked into the histories of the spirits at Catfish Plantation restaurant as one(surprisingly) contacted me after my first(1990) visit there. I HAD to know who she was, & why she was still around. Did she seek help to move on? Not quite, seemed to want someone to know who she was, what her life was really like. Her true story is more dramatic than the “legend”. It does bother me that people exploit ghosts for thrillseeking. But, what can we do?

  13. Pet peeve: When ghosthunters hear “help” or “help me” on EVPs, then become excited at GETTING the EVP, but do nothing to respond to the plea! They could return to site repeatedly,& try to get more info.
    As Kimberley posted, maybe spirits sometimes ARE asking for help in leaving where they find themselves, when we just hear “leave”. But we don’t help,we only “capture evidence”, then move on to next case.
    Also,I’ve found ghosts can seem to come & go, not all are stuck here. Can even be more then one place at a time, & seen as different ages,too. Outside our times & space limits.

  14. As a ghost tour guide, most of the stories I deal with are old ones, but the descendants of the people in the stories still live in this city. To me, these people are as real as if they were still alive and I have great respect and sympathy for them. We used to go into a colonial cemetery but had to stop because the descendants of people buried there complained that it was disrespectful. The problem isn’t with the tout itself, but rather the attitudes of the people who take it. While most tourists are respectful and truly interested, the ones who want the cheap thrills and scares ruin it for everyone. They laugh at the stories or make off-color remarks. We play an EVP that is heartrending if you listen to it carefully, but they laugh at it, which just infuriates me. IF people wanted to visit the grave of my long dead great-great-great-grandfather who was hanged in 1735, I would be tickled. But if they made fun of him or belittled his death, I would resent it.

  15. Hey, Linda, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing this. I’ve heard of a lot of ghost tours being banned from cemeteries. Like you said, not the tours fault, but the people taking it. They forget they need to show respect. It’s because people associate ghosts more with fantasy than real people. Very sad. Again, I sure do thank you for stopping by like this.

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