Advice for Everyone
by Uncle Mortimer
Dear Uncle Morty,
I’m writing you as someone who’s been recently disembodied. I received the packet and I have examined all my choices. Even though it isn’t recommended, I have decided to hang around and haunt my old house. This seems like a good idea given that my son, let’s call him George, inherited the home. George is thirty and my only child. Quite frankly, I think maybe I spoiled him. He has no children, and his wife finally left him due to his bad behavior; he was always asking for money and he could never hold down a job. I don’t know exactly where I went wrong, but I’m his mother and mothers never give up. Even when we’re dead. Believe me, when I say that I have no problem hanging around and scaring this problem child into some semblance of adulthood. I’m not writing so you can lecture me about letting go or moving on to the Netherworld. I’ve made up my mind.
My real problem is that I’m actually not very good at being incorporeal. I’ve been able to mimic the sounds of water running at night and I’ve made some rather pitiful banging noises and got one marble to roll down the wooden stairs, but this guy smokes an awful lot of weed, so I’m not sure I’m getting through to him. I’ve tried appearing directly, but when I go transparent to walk through a wall, I have a hard time making myself visible again. I’ve been told that thirty-year old men just don’t have enough psychic energy for me to harness any poltergeist-y lifting or flinging things about. I realize that the Nether counselors are instructed not to advise haunting as a top tier afterlife choice, but for goodness sakes…someone has to have some information on how to do it. After all, it is listed as an option. Do you know the best place I can go for technical information as to how to haunt a house? I couldn’t lift a chain to rattle it right now if I tried. What can I do to scare my immature child into finally launching into adulthood?
I’m desperate for advice,
Hoping to Scare
I am going to help you with your problem on your terms. I understand that you’ve made your choice after talking to your Netherworld advisor, and I’m going to respect that choice in that I’m going to suggest resources you can use. However, as always, your Uncle Morty has opinions about your choices and I’m bound to tell you what they are. That’s what they pay me to do. Not well, but that’s your Uncle Morty’s problem.
First things first. I’m just going to say it. The afterlife entrance counselors can be a little skimpy with good advice. It’s not their fault. They have massive caseloads and huge turnover, so lots of them are new and they simply don’t know all the resources that are available. They mostly hand out those wretched brochures titled “So You Want to Haunt?” which are not worth the paper they’re printed on. However, there are a couple of websites that have good haunting information. I know you don’t have a poltergeist situation going on, but PolterGeisting.com has some of the best advice I’ve seen…even for novice ghosts. There are some forms of energy that don’t require teenage angst that are available to specters of all sorts. Their instructions are simple and easy to follow with no jargon or acronyms. There’s also hauntingfamily.com for exactly your situation. Both these sites have excellent tips for everything from spectral appearances to ashy handprints to bleeding books. They also have some really good takes on the psychology of haunting. The best thing you can do if you’re really determined to spook George is to take a break from your haunting and get yourself a ticket to the Netherworld and go to the Library. I believe ghosts can take up to a week off twice a year but check your contract. The Library is only about six blocks from the station. Spend the day. The librarians there are great! Just go in, let them know what you need, and you’ll have plenty of material for study. There are some ancient haunting books and some reference books there that you can’t check out, but there are a few you will be able to take with you and send back Bat Post.
But I’d like you to think long and hard about staying on earth and haunting your son, even if, as you say, you’re perfectly comfortable and feeling great about it. I get that. But let me just say as someone who’s been trapped on this side of the River Styx on and off for long periods of time – sticking around is not always everything it’s cracked up to be. I say that not because I worry about your son’s quality of life but because I worry about your quality of death. Haven’t you earned a little rest? Are you up for the psychological challenges of hanging around watching him when you can’t really express all the things you want to say clearly? I mean, it may take him any number of years to believe that he is being haunted at all, much less by you.
The second question you have to ask yourself is…will it work? If you couldn’t get through to him when you were embodied, what makes you think you can scare him into good behavior by banging and knocking around in the attic? Look, I’m going to be quite frank about this. Maybe it’s your absence, not from his heart, of course, but from his physical realm…that will help him grow up. Maybe his problem was he could depend on you to tell him what to do and how to be happy. I’m not blaming you. Many of my embodiments were…sticky at best when it came to relationships. Love is difficult and nuanced and there’s no one to one where behavior equals results. But embodied souls have to make decisions for themselves. No matter how much we’d like to influence, and protect, and ease the way for our loved ones, sometimes we have to let them go. Death is the ultimate in letting go, making peace with the world and moving into the great mystery. There comes a time when they must make their own way and you, my dear, must make yours.
I know I probably won’t change your mind, and I wish you the best of luck, but I would be remiss not to ask you to rethink this. You usually have to sign up for decades when you’re haunting and many of those contracts force you to stay in the home you choose to haunt. (There are technical reasons for this as well. It’s difficult enough for disembodied energy to function in familiar spaces. It’s almost impossible to make it work from further afield.) He may remarry and/or sell your house. Are you prepared to haunt a new family? I can’t tell you how many cases I’ve seen of ghosts stuck haunting people they don’t know. Many of them just don’t have the heart to do it and they ride out their contracts creeping around an attic sleeping in boxes, playing in the dust, and trying not to be seen or make noise. At the very least, see if you can add some sort of early release rider in the contract. If you have an inexperienced advisor, they may not suggest it.
Of course, it’s your decision. I would love to hear how it all worked out.
Your Uncle Morty
Mortimer Richard Wolcott is, quite frankly, not very forthcoming with his bio. We're not even sure if that's his real name. His work during his previous embodiments is not something he'll willingly share. He also won't explain why he's currently assigned to the world of the living. His deathography is somewhat clear only from the point at which he showed up at Sacred Chickens Farm for a Halloween Party and never left. He is occasionally pressed into service to help write the blog and you can search the archives here for his wisdom. He enjoys hanging out with cats, the occasional cocktail, and dispensing sarcastic remarks to the living.