After someone you love dies, it’s normal to wonder about where they went, and what they’re doing. Are they nearby? Sometimes you might feel like they could be, but you second-guess yourself. In this article we’ll cover some of the more “common” ways a deceased loved one can make their presence known – you may feel, hear or see them, but not always. Sometimes you “just know” that they’re there, and that’s not crazy. You can learn to start paying attention to that knowing, along with other physically perceptible signs. There are a number of ways to recognize signs that a deceased loved one is nearby.

Physical signs a deceased loved one is nearby

One sign that a deceased loved one is nearby is by physically feeling it. Sometimes you’ll be able to sense the presence of your deceased loved one by feeling changes in the environment around you. In many cases it could feel like a temperature change in the room (suddenly getting cold, or feeling cold air isolated in one spot). Other times it may feel like a tingling on your skin or feel as if someone is physically touching you, even if no one is “there”. Pay attention to these feelings and how the nuances may translate to who’s reaching out.

Many mediums will have a system that they co-create with people who’ve transitioned to the other side, to help them navigate more clearly who they’re connecting with. For example, you may notice if you’ve lost more than one person, that you feel more sensation on your left side if the visitor was a male, and the right side if female. This helps mediums articulate to the living person they’re in a session with to help them identify who’s coming across, and it can work the same way for you privately to connect with your own deceased loved ones. It can get more nuanced, like a “high right” sensation might be a female direct family member from the maternal line, whereas a “low right” sensation might still be a female spirit, but from the paternal line. Similarly, a male spirit making their presence known may be “felt” more on the left side than the right.

What works for one person might not work for others, so try not to feel confused or discouraged if you don’t have a clear, direct experience or sensation laid out like the scenario above, or if you know your deceased grandpa is visiting you but you always feel the tingling on your right side. That works – at the end of the day you have to trust for yourself what you’re experiencing. You have a say in how you experience visitations to an extent, so if you need more clarity you can always ask your loved ones in spirit to try to connect with you in ways that you’ll recognize more easily. Maybe you’d like to flip left and right, maybe you’re always cold so you wouldn’t necessarily feel a temperature change, and maybe something entirely different is better for you.

Hearing their voice

Another way to recognize a sign that a deceased loved one is nearby is through auditory senses. Usually if you’re truly hearing your loved one’s voice, it’ll feel distinctive and stronger than your normal chatter in your head. It also tends to happen more often when they’re specifically addressing a current situation vs. just saying hello at random; in my experience the “hello’s” usually come as signs and symbols rather than verbal dialogue (except in dreams, which we’ll save for another article!).

For example, when I took my brother’s ashes to the coast in Africa, I had this plan to enter the water at sunset and dispense his ashes in the crystal clear water offshore. When my husband and I got down there, it was so cloudy and dark, even though it had been a beautiful sunny day earlier. I felt angry and upset – not only had my brother died, but now I couldn’t even give him a beautiful sunset scattering of ashes? We started to pack up around 5p.m., when I heard very distinctively in my left ear “No, 5:30” in my brother’s voice.

I stopped my husband and told him we needed to wait until 5:30pm and that the clouds were going to clear out. Sure enough, at 5:30 on the dot, the clouds parted and gave way to a beautiful sunset with light streaking down on my path into the water.

If I hadn’t listened and then trusted what I heard, I would have missed this really special, bittersweet moment pictured below.

auditory signs a deceased loved one is nearby
In my experience it’s also easier to “hear” more consistently with a steady prayer and meditation practice. Think of it as praying is talking to God while meditation is listening.

Again, don’t feel discouraged if clairaudience is not something that’s happening for you – it can’t really be forced. If you’re doing everything you can to quiet your mind, creating space and paying attention, and you aren’t “hearing” anything, it just means they’re communicating with you in a different way and that’s totally fine.

Visual signs a deceased loved one is nearby

Some people will experience seeing their deceased loved ones as if they were still physically here. That is, of course, one of the most clear and undeniable signs that a deceased loved one is nearby. While in my experience this is much less common, it absolutely happens. It can be startling for sure, but not always, and either way is truly a gift.

There are different “degrees” of seeing a deceased loved one, for lack of a better term. Sometimes you might actually see them, as you remember them, standing in your dining room as you come in from the kitchen. Which happened to a family friend who lost her child. She described the experience as oddly different from what she would have expected. She saw her child and her immediate words were “do you want something to eat?” just like she would have in the past. By the time she realized what was happening, the moment was gone, but it did happen.  

Other times a sign that a deceased loved one is nearby is that feeling that you’ve seen your deceased loved one briefly, in a more subtle way. This is much more common – seeing the profile of someone who looks like them standing in a crowd, in front of you in the checkout line, or seeing someone wearing a very similar outfit with a similar stance and overall appearance from a distance. Even if you blink and realize that it’s someone you don’t know (or blink and the person is gone), it’s still a visitation in a sense because it brought their memory to the surface of your mind in that moment. 

In waking life, seeing a deceased loved one is less common, but it can be easier to experience through guided meditation and visualization. One of the ways to help support this potentially happening in a more “controlled” way is to focus on separating your consciousness from your body through meditation. In a guided grief meditation environment, I often separate my consciousness from my body and can see my deceased brother standing next to my mom who is guiding the class. Last time this happened, my brother just looked at me and nodded, and smiled down at our mom. So if you haven’t seen your deceased loved one yet just know that if and when it happens it might not be a dramatic, tearful reunion – it’s often more subtle, and that’s okay. Anything that brings your loved one to the forefront of your memory and helps you feel closer in that moment is important and valuable.

Trusting signs a deceased loved one is nearby

We just went through the four “Clairs” of how to recognize signs that a deceased loved one is nearby:

Clairsentience or Clear Feeling

Clairaudience or Clear Hearing

Clairvoyance or Clear Seeing

and lastly, Claircognizance or Clear Knowing

The most important thing to remember is that spirit and deceased loved ones communicate in myriad ways, and it’s not always what you might expect. The best thing to do is to pay attention, quiet your mind, and trust when you feel like you’re experiencing your loved one’s presence. You might not feel them touch your arm, whisper in your ear or stand in front of you, but sometimes you just know that they’re nearby. Trust that, because it’s true.