Dreamed 1947 by a young California widow, as reported to the Rhine Institute
In 1947 in California, a young man died suddenly of pneumonia, only seven weeks after his marriage. His young wife was left almost prostrated, not only by the shock of his death but by attendant financial worries with which she had not had the experience to deal.
Among other things, his death had occurred so soon after their marriage that he had not gotten around to having his life insurance transferred to her; she was worried about hospital and funeral expenses and did not know whether his mother, who would collect on two large policies, would pay the bills or not.
After the funeral she packed and put in storage all household goods. During the packing she ran across a small black bag that she had not seen before. She thought she would go through it when she had more time.
About six weeks later she awakened one morning early--just enough to hear vaguely the traffic in the street. Suddenly she thought she was standing on the top step of her front porch. Her husband was leaning against the trunk of a tree a few feet away. Without a word he pointed to the lower step: there was the small black bag. That was all of the dream.
She tried to forget the dream, but it stayed in her mind until finally she decided to look for the bag. She found it and it was full of insurance policies on her husband that had all lapsed as long as five years before. There must have been a dozen. She was discarding them, as she examined them, until she came to a certain one. The instant she touched this one she knew it was significant. It had been five years since the last payment on it had lapsed, but somehow she just had to investigate further. She called the insurance office and learned the policy was still payable after death; and since it did not name a beneficiary, it would be paid to her. She collected it with interest. If the death had occurred eighteen days later, it would have been worthless. It would have been months before she would have discovered this policy, without the dream, since she did not take her belongings out of storage for almost a year.
In cases like this... the relationship of the deceased and living is reciprocal: the deceased would have wanted to help the living person, and he was one of those to whom the living would turn in times of need.
--Louisa E. Rhine
Rhine sought ghost accounts in which the living witness has less interest in any messages than the dead person supposedly sending them; ideally, no interest, making it unlikely that the living might have used some sort of unconscious extrasensory perception, then created a hallucinatory figure to report the unconscious's findings; after all, ordinary dreams often use familiar figures to report things the unconscious has noticed, and the Rhine Institute had by now, in Louisa Rhine's view, proven the existence of ESP in the lab. So instead of two explanations (coincidence or a ghost), she sees three: coincidence, ghost, or ESP results reported by a projection. And it's a general alternative to spiritualist hypotheses. Far from strengthening arguments for an afterlife, then, ESP undermines it.
Still, if the dead ever do send messages, it's reasonable to expect them to be useful to the recipient; that's what messages are for! A case like this is just what you'd expect, if ghosts are real. Rhine's point is that such cases fit either or both paranormal hypotheses. Conceding that such accounts strain coincidence may force you to consider the paranormal, but you're not obliged to turn spiritualist.
Rhine concluded that for proof of an afterlife, we'd need transpersonal messages, in which a soul with its own agenda uses a basically disinterested medium to pass on a message useful to a third party. Such transpersonal dreams or visions resemble cledonic dreams: dreams meaningful only to another person, as if the dream's a sealed letter the dreamer can deliver but not open.
This witness isn't disinterested; she needed both money and emotional comfort. If you accept ESP, her unconscious might well have created this dream. It certainly had the motivation. And yet... how many hoops must a poor ghost jump through?
SOURCE: Hidden Channels of the Mind by Louisa E. Rhine, 1961, p. 236-7. Account untitled, author's name witheld; title & byline added to aid searching & indexing.
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