I am always amazed when we walk away from an investigation under the opinion that there’s “nothing here.” It’s pretty rare to arrive at such a conclusion so early in the process, but sometimes you can’t help it. The house is neat and tidy, the family is close, there are no unusual noises, bumps, footsteps or bangs. The location seems to be a well balanced, peaceful place. “Nothing out of the ordinary here. This house is clean.”
Still, I always handle a paranormal investigation as a total believer – every one of the client’s claims are true for me, and with good reason, I think. First, by automatically accepting spirit to be present, I have a better chance of actually hearing or seeing one. Second, without evidence one way or the other, a client feels better thinking you are a total supporter. After the data has been gathered, the experiences logged, and analysis completed, there is plenty of time to decide whether spirits were present or not. Unfortunately, more often than not, we come up empty.
But what does that say about the client? Are they simply mistaken? Stupid or crazy? Surely, most people are smart enough to know that ice machines make a racket; that an AC unit is noisy throughout the day. They even realize that sometimes people think they’re hearing voices when in fact, they aren’t. There are house noises, creaky floorboards, and faulty wiring. Most of the clients I’ve dealt with are just normal people who have long ago eliminated these “easy explanations,” and they’re not overly imaginative or prone to outlandish exaggeration. Most clients are honest, concerned people who truly think something is wrong with their life or their space, and they’ve asked us for help.
They open their homes to us; extend hospitality – trust us alone with their worldly goods. They put their fears and sleepless nights – their faith – into what they hope are “professional,” capable hands. In other words, they give us the total respect they deserve in return. Sometimes the stories they tell are just horrific – the children are being bothered by a shadow man every night; someone has tried to push mom down the stairs; you can hear footsteps walking the halls… Sometimes it’s even worse, and they don’t know where to turn.
So how do we tell them that the evidence doesn’t support a single claim? Obviously, there are ways to guild the Lily well enough to soften the blow, and honestly, just because nothing happened while we were there doesn’t mean it never has, but is that salvo enough to actually help? Probably not. They hope for definitive answers; an end to their personal horror. Maybe they just need to verify things for no other reason than to assure themselves of their own sanity. Sometimes knowing you’re right gives you the strength to live with the paranormal.
It must be difficult to hear “we found nothing while we were here.” That’s a truth we have to tell, but the hard reality of such a statement doesn’t absolve us of our duty to believe them. Paranormal things do not parse well with actual science, so our observations and data analysis seem rather hollow when the children are still being frightened by the man with the mean face in their closet. We may not have found him, but it seems completely reasonable for him to hide from us. The question becomes “what other approaches can we take?”
We have to keep in mind that our empirical findings, or the lack thereof, are not the end all and be all. Evidence isn’t proof of spirit anyway, and the lack of it doesn’t prove the client is wrong. Our efforts to help them do not end when we come up empty-handed – instead, that’s when they begin. And just because there’s “nothing here” doesn’t mean there isn’t.
Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.