Date
11 December 2017
One in four people mourning the dead have said they have had some 'conversation' with their deceased kin, according to a Hong Kong survey. Photo: HKEJ
One in four people mourning the dead have said they have had some 'conversation' with their deceased kin, according to a Hong Kong survey. Photo: HKEJ

Conversations with the dead: It’s no ghost story

A survey in Hong Kong of people who were mourning the death of a family member or a close relative has thrown up some interesting observations.

One out every four people interviewed said they have had “conversations” with their deceased relatives within the month after the deaths, while 20 percent of the people said they still “saw” their deceased relatives within that period of time, Apple Daily reported Monday, citing a study conducted by the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

The HKU study covered some 106 relatives of deceased patients in 2012. Over half of the people interviewed saying they missed the deceased on a regular basis. Meanwhile, around 25 percent said they actually heard their relatives “talking to them” within the first month after their death. The figure still stood at 17 percent after seven months.

Dr. Amy Chow of HKU’s social sciences faculty said such experiences were similar to what the Chinese people describe as the “return of the spirits seven days after the death”.

Chow added that such encounters offer a soothing effect for those who are devastated by their relatives’ death, offering them certain comfort and linkage to the relatives. However, if these phenomena continue after six months, it could pose emotional problems and make it difficult for the people to adapt to new life.

The faculty also conducted another survey between February and April this year, interviewing 464 people on their attitude towards death. Eighty percent of the respondents were aged below 59, while the rest were 60 or above. The survey found out that the fear of death rating for the group aged below 59 has dropped to 3.42 points, from 4.47 in 2007, while that for the group aged 60 or above has decreased to 2.68 points from 2.78 over the same period.

Chow attributed the lessened fear towards death among Hong Kong people to increased education on death awareness in recent years, the report said.

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