Adam Neal – Psi of Relief: The Parapsychology of Grief

In the wake of a death, sudden or expected, the grief comes upon us as instinctively as hunger. Our body endures wave after wave of pain, uncontrolled by any means of distraction or intention. It is as if our mind is clenched by an external energy, gripping tightly and forcing us into a primal focus of pain.

"Antonel" by Julie Favreau
“Antonel” by Julie Favreau

These instances are considered natural grief, when the brain is assimilating the information about this person’s death and adjusting itself to a life devoid of further interaction with the person. In this way, if we disregard the degree of emotional difference, we can liken grieving a loved one to having our first kiss. Preposterous?

The plasticity of our brain is activated by each new experience we undergo. This renders key moments of our lives (e.g. births, deaths, firsts) paramount over, for example, which pair of socks we wore yesterday. The importance of the experience is completely dependent upon the experiencer, and such importance is assigned unconsciously and specifically from person to person. If one was wearing a “lucky” pair of socks when she won the lottery, these socks take precedence over other socks in her drawer, because of the association they hold. This empowerment of items can not be directly compared to the power we endow our human connections, however the presence of such connections exists similarly in our minds. As such, if he owns a pair of socks given to him as a gift by his newly deceased loved one, the socks will take on intense significance as his grieving process continues throughout his life.

The concept of assigning energy to items is as old as humanity itself, because the meaning-making that is intrinsic to human experience involves associations with all external entities, living or otherwise. The practice of sensing energy from a living being in a non-living thing is called “psychometry,” and is utilized throughout the world in both practical and spiritual manners. In western culture, psychometry is used in police investigations for the purposes of locating suspects, victims, or even witnesses. Items of personal significance for direct (i.e. meaningful to someone for im-practical reasons — a teddy bear) and/or indirect (i.e. meaningful for practical reasons — a pencil) reasons aid psi practitioners in their collection of invisible evidence – evidence which has led to the recovery of innumerable people and locations of interest to the government.

When a loved one succumbs to physical death, which we process as an ultimate passing from our world, is there any respite from our suffering?

The adage is “time heals all wounds,” but the pain of loss is far-reaching and eternal. Whether the death occurred this morning or thirty years ago, the memory we hold of our beloved friend or relative remains as strong as any memory we possess. In this way we continue to process the loss throughout our lives at select checkpoints, like unexposed mines that sneak themselves in while we convince time to will away our grief. A birthday, an anniversary, a wedding, a piece of life-changing news – each moment reinvoking the memory we hold sacred, reexperiencing the pain of their absence, reimagining them beside us to share in our feeling…

Catch the rest of “Psi of Relief” on

Adam A. Neal

Adam Neal is the creator of Paranormalyte, a site dedicated to the discussion of psi-related experiences that defy mainstream scientific explanation. A Magna cum Laude graduate of Muhlenberg College, he began reading Tarot and studying psi research in 2005. He has developed and taught a seminar called “The Psychic in Society” which educates about psi phenomena from an academic and experiential perspective. He has also written a play entitled WEGO, dealing with near-death experiences and parapsychology, which he seeks to get produced soon. He resides in Brooklyn, NY. 

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