How Is it Possible that Spirits Don’t Realize that They’re Dead?

Why spirits don’t know they’re dead is a question often posed by paranormal researchers and ghost hunters alike.

Just a few reasons why spirits don’t realize they’re dead:

  • Spirits refuse to believe they’ve gone through the death experience
  • Death is so sudden and traumatic; the spirit ignores the signs of having died
  • They are afraid of what the afterlife due to particular teachings by religious institutions
  • The idea of dying was always terrifying for them

A spirit remaining unaware of being dead is difficult for the living to comprehend. Yet, time after time in my ghost investigations, I’ve found this to be a common occurrence.

Usually, Spirits Are Very Aware that They’re Dead

There are many reasons why a Spirit does not cross over when the physical body dies. One of the most common but tragic reasons Spirits stay earthbound and haven’t crossed into the light is through sudden death.

ghost girl on forest floor

At the moment of brain death, when we leave our physical body, our consciousness jumps our physical shell and then enters the Etheric body for a short time. If all goes well, we then progress to the Astral body for the complete crossing over experience. As mentioned, some souls either choose to stay earthbound or are so confused, perhaps by a traumatic death, that they’ve not become aware that they’ve died.

For instance, if I suddenly keeled over dead, I might not realize anything is wrong. I might attempt to go about my business as usual. Moreover, I might even go shopping for food but then have no memory of bringing it home. As strange as this seems, this is an excellent example of how, in a dreamlike state, unaware spirits think and act.

To further illustrate, I recall the 1999 blockbuster movie, The Sixth Sense,” (spoiler alert). The shocker comes when at the very end of the movie, actor Bruce Willis, comes to the sudden realization that he’s actually dead.


man looking at woman sadly

Shock Sometimes Elicits Numbed Reactions

When in this predicament, we might think in ways that keep us from going into shock. One of these mechanisms is extreme denial. Just as many repress traumatic events and erase them from their conscious memories, so too might a Spirit.

This type of event often occurs due to a sudden death. There’s no warning that death is imminent. In the majority of these situations; spirits will cross over. However, in rarer instances, the disembodied spirit is unaware and for a time, remains earthbound.

As mentioned,  disembodied spirits result when a person experiences a traumatic death or has left behind unresolved conflicts or relationships. For some reason, this earthly concern leaves a spirit without peace or rest, preventing them from coming to terms with their own deaths and moving on to the next plane of their existence.

Dependent upon the severity of the death experience, the suddenness of it may leave the spirit in a state of suspension. This condition is similar to an individual having been informed that someone close to them has died. After getting the news, the recipient gets up and goes about their business as if nothing was said. The shock is so great, their mind refuses to comprehend it.

An Unaware Spirit Is Not  Due to a Residual Haunting

An unaware spirit is not due to a Residual Haunting. Of note, it’s believed that a Residual Hauntings is brought about by an extreme emotional or physical event. In cases of residual hauntings, one person or  a group (including animals), appear at certain times. It’s like a movie replay of a scene from a past event.

Some experts now attribute this phenomenon to The Stone Tape Theory.” Residual hauntings will be covered more in-depth in a future post. But for now, a sighting that is a residual haunting is nothing more than a picture from the past that imprinted on space and time. How long this imprint exists for the living to witness varies.

Not Everyone Has the Tunnel of Light Experience

Many people who have clinically died and come back don’t always report the proverbial tunnel and white light. In cases of a severe traumatic death, a soul might initially be confused and keep their reality the same as it was before death.

Just because we have died doesn’t mean we’re spiritually cured of all our human tendencies, frailties and learned thinking patterns. Initially, survival instincts and coping mechanisms have not changed one iota.


Where Is God in All This?

This brings up a very important point. If God is so supreme, all-powerful, and loving, how is it that some Spirits do not make it across to the other side after dying? I don’t claim to have the perfect answer for this.

I’ve often wondered in cases of children who are stuck in-between worlds why this is allowed by the divine higher-ups. And it continues to bother me. I’ve even asked my personal guides this troubling question and their answer is vague.

When encountering one of these hapless souls, try to make them aware of their surroundings. This usually brings them out of their dream state. Additionally, gently inform them of what has occurred and let them know it’s time to move to the Light.


In conclusion, there are rare instances where a person that has died, either can’t or won’t accept that they have passed on. Due to the particulars of their passing, awareness of the death experience either registers or it doesn’t. The good news is that most of us make the crossing effortlessly. Moreover, we have loved ones and higher entities that assist us in the crossover event.

Is this something that you think about? Do you believe in an afterlife? Leave a comment below.

by Carol Nicholson, Ph.D., and Certified Psychic-Medium

Hi! I’m Carol Nicholson and I hope you enjoyed this post! I’m dedicated to providing helpful, valuable, and fascinating blogs on a wide range of spiritual and psychic arts topics. Don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss out on my most recent posts and announcements of new courses!


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