What happens if someone sees a ghost?

The simple answer is: Nothing happens to them. They’ve seen something that looked like a ghost. That’s all.

I’m sorry if that’s disappointing. It happens to be the truth. After decades of paranormal research, I’m used to ghosts and things that just look like ghosts.

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Strange mist at haunted Gilson Road Cemetery, Nashua, NH (USA)

Seeing an apparition — or any other evidence of ghosts — may change how a person reacts to ghost stories. Aside from the emotional and cognitive impact, I don’t think anything else happens to the person.

No one dies from it. The person isn’t cursed. People who see ghosts aren’t personally haunted for the rest of their lives.

If you see a ghost, that’s usually described as an apparition.  An apparition usually looks like a person, or at least part of one. You might see just a torso, or just a face. The apparition might be solid, translucent (it lets light through), or nearly transparent.

Generally, the ghost appears as he or she wants to be remembered.

Few apparitions look gory, gruesome, or even elderly. When someone thinks they’ve seen something really creepy… it’s rarely a ghost.

Seeing a ghost is like witnessing any other extraordinary (but natural) event. It’s an unusual experience, like seeing the Aurora Borealis, or visiting an active volcano.

Maybe it’s memorable. Maybe the viewer would prefer to explain it as “an overactive imagination” or “the power of suggestion.”

I never try to convince someone that they’ve seen a ghost, even if I’m 99% sure they did.

Spiritual contexts make a difference.

  • Seeing a ghost might be startling, particularly if the person had been a skeptic.
  • To a believer, it affirms the idea of an afterlife.

We can’t prove anything, one way or the other. All we can say is: The person believes he (or she) saw something like a ghost.

That’s a personal, subjective experience.

For some people, seeing a ghost answers all their questions: Ghosts are real. After that, the individual may quit ghost hunting.

Or, the experience might trigger new questions. If so, the researcher may be even more enthusiastic about ghost hunting.

Meanwhile, nothing terrible happens to a person who’s seen a ghost. Real life is different from movies and TV shows.

And, to be honest, apparitions are extremely rare. Most ghost hunters never see a ghost… not one that they’re sure was a ghost, anyway.

You’re more likely to win the lottery.

Are some people more receptive to ghosts than others?

Yes, but I think it depends on several things.

– Is the person vulnerable? If the person is sad, depressed, or morose, he worried womanor she may attract sympathetic ghosts. That person may also attract less benign spirits. Be very watchful if you think this has happened.

– Does the person have anything common with the ghost or entity?  That can include appearance, interests, personal history, and family connections to a particular ghost.

If you’re a ghost hunter, know your family tree. I investigated one Salem (MA) location for years before discovering I was a direct descendant of two of the ghosts.

– Is the person looking for contact with the ghost, or with spirits in general?  If you’re more open to ghosts, you might encounter more of them. 

– On the other hand, if the person fears ghosts, I think some ghosts like to torment them.

– If a skeptical critic is startled by a ghost, watch out. Poltergeist activity may follow, immediately. (The ghost might be making use of the person’s own energy. It can be very scary.)

The most receptive people may be those with the best observational skill.

Those skills often come from practice.

Can you identify normal creaking noises in a house? If so, it may be easier to identify other, unusual — and perhaps ghostly — sounds.

In other words, if you’d like to be more receptive, go on more ghost investigations. The more you know about what’s normal at creepy locations, the more sensitive you’ll become to things that are paranormal.

Can a ghost follow you from place to place?

Busy? You can listen to this article in Fiona’s seven-minute podcast.

Can Ghosts Follow You?

In this five-minute recording, ghost hunter Fiona Broome talks about ghosts and other entities that might follow you. For the text of this recording, see her article, Can Ghosts Follow You From Place to Place?

Can ghosts follow you?

The simple answer is: no, not usually. At least 99% of the time, no ghost follows you – or anyone else – from place to place.

Can Ghosts Follow You? Maybe.Ghostly phenomena seem tied to specific locations.

In most cases, I believe that if ghosts could go somewhere else, they probably would. (If you had a choice, would you spend relentless years at a site where people ignore you, or are afraid of you? Probably not.)

Yes, some ghosts remain at a location by choice. Green ladies are among the most famous. They protect the homes they once lived in.

More often, the ghosts simply haven’t moved on, literally or figuratively. Something from their past – often a grudge or unfinished business – holds them there. They’re not going anywhere until that’s resolved.

So, if something seems to follow you from a haunted site… it may not be a ghost. Ghosts rarely change locations.

Of course, there are other kinds of entities. Many could be described, generally, as “spirits.”  They include angels, spirit guides, benevolent entities, faeries, and – yes – demons.

And, for all we know, visitors from other worlds and times could be visiting us, and have the power to remain invisible. (I’m reminded of the “prime directive” in Star Trek.)

My point is: we use the word “ghosts” to describe a category of phenomena, and perhaps a kind of entity. And, when they really are people who lived in this world, then died, but haven’t left this plane of existence yet… they don’t move from location to location.

Exceptions to this rule are rare.

Judith Thompson Tyng’s revenge

In my entire ghost hunting career – spanning decades – I’ve heard of just a few ghosts that moved from one location to another. They’re that rare.

One of them is Judith Thompson Tyng. Her ghost moved around Tyngsboro, Massachusetts (USA) for many years.

Witnesses say her ghost still lingers there, over 200 years later.

According to folklore, Judith tormented (and perhaps killed) two 18th century men she held responsible for her death.

One of them was John Alford Tyng, the father of her child. He killed her and buried her under the hearth of their home.

Then, when Judith haunted him, he moved to another house. Judith’s ghost followed him.

He moved again, but the results were the same. Judith’s ghost would not leave him alone.

Finally, when John Alford Tyng was dying, Judith’s ghost stood at his door and prevented anyone from helping him. (That’s not just folklore. It’s from the handwritten diary of a Revolutionary War hero – a friend of John Alford Tyng – who tried to help the dying Tyng, but was blocked by Judith’s ghost.)

Judith’s other victim was an itinerant doctor – actually, a quack – nicknamed “Dr. Blood” because he bled people and adminstered “snake oil” type remedies.

In this case, Dr. Blood pretended to be a minister or a Justice of the Peace, and conducted the marriage ceremony between Judith Thompson and John Alford Tyng.

The whole thing was a sham set up by Tyng and Blood, and Dr. Blood may have been involved in Judith’s murder, as well.

That’s why Judith’s second victim was the infamous Dr. Blood.

When he was found dead on a country road, Judith’s distinctive boot print was on his back. Folklore claims her ghost had forced his head into a puddle, and held him there – with her ghostly foot on his back – until he drowned.

(You can read further details of the story at my Hollow Hill article, The Haunting of John Alford Tyng.)

And, as I said, Judith may still haunt Tyngsboro, Massachusetts and nearby Nashua, NH.

At the very least, Judith Thompson Tyng’s curse has caused continuing problems at the grave of John Alford Tyng.

Other Entities Can Change Location

Of course, stories like those must be studied closely. As I said, about 99% of ghosts seem to stay in one place.  Anything that moves from one location to another might be something else.

For example, poltergeists can follow and torment the people they select as targets. That’s why many researchers don’t believe poltergeists are just ghosts.

Demons can follow people or even become attached to them. Demons can mimic ghosts.

Few credible stories describe a ghost changing locations.

Even the Bell Witch was probably the product of several entities. Those included at least one opportunistic (and, at the time, very alive) person in that community.

So, if you’re worried about going on a ghost tour – or visiting a haunted place – and are afraid that a ghost might follow you, you probably have nothing to worry about.

(However, if you’re that anxious about ghosts, perhaps you shouldn’t go on ghost tours or visit haunted places. Perhaps you are more vulnerable to spiritual influences, and you should pay attention to your “gut feeling.”)

If You Think a Ghost Is Following You

sympathetic and comforting handsIf you think a ghost has followed you from a haunted location, visit a priest or spiritual minister immediately.

Chances are, the problem isn’t a ghost.

It might be a guardian spirit… an angel, for example.

It could be some other benign spirit.

Or, it could be something worse, and you might be at risk.

Please, don’t seek help from strangers, online.

Not even me.

Offline (in real life), find a priest or full-time minister to help you, even if you are not a religious person or a member of that congregation, and even if you don’t believe in God.

(A good minister won’t care.  His or her job is to help with spiritual matters, period and full stop. Ghosts, angels, and demons are spirits, and that’s what the clergy study – and deal with – every day.)

Most important: if you think a ghost is following you, get help right away. As I said, you could be at risk.

That’s a danger you should rule out as quickly as possible.

You’ll get the best results by talking with someone who’s spent years studying all kinds of spiritual matters.  Also, genuine priests and ministers provide this kind of help free of charge. It’s part of their religious calling.

But anyway…

If you’re simply worried about ghosts following you, the answer is: no, you’re more likely to win the lottery than be followed by a ghost.

However, if you think you’re already being followed by an entity – possibly a ghost – get help immediately.

Recommended reading: The Ghost Hunter’s Survival Guide: Protection Techniques for Encounters with the Paranormal, by Michelle Belanger.