In some "primitive" cultures, shamans act as an intermediary between the living and the dead, but mostly between the spirit and flesh, so the living can indeed be assured of life after death and the existence of the spirit world.. Vodoun is an example of a religion such as this in the modern day. I get all KINDS of shit from supposedly open minded people about being a deathseer, someone who interacts with the dead. Wiccans tell me that ghosts are confused and should be forced to move on and have nothing valuable to impart. Magicians tell me that human spirits are "low" entites who should be ignored. Christians tell me I am being decieved by demons or corrupt humans who couldn't make it to Heaven. Buddhists are pretty understanding, but they are the minority.
The living as a whole in our culture fear death and the dead. In my opinion, the majority of mourning is for the living and their loss of a friend or family member. A lot of times it can get turned into a self-pity party and overdone severely. I think we honestly need such intermediaries in our culture...thus people born with necromancy and priests and magicians in general.
Mostly, I believe the dead simply want us to move on, cherish our memories of them and remember them as part of our lives. They do not want (as far as I can tell) for us to hurt ourselves with grief and sadness. In many cultures, death was the occasion for a party for the person, in honor of them moving on to a better, pain-free existence.
I have felt the presence of the dead many, many times. My friend Tish is a mortician and a Deathspeaker who has on several occasions had spirits of bodies she was working on give her information. Once the spirit of a severely abused child showed her where in his corpse to find evidence to get his stepfather jailed for killing him. That one was very hard on her, as the child was terrified and begged her not to release his body back to his stepfather. When she met the man, she had to be physically restrained by the police to keep her from attacking him. When she showed the police this evidence, the man was jailed for murder.
On another occasion, an older woman whose daughter was close to her came in with a specific dress to be garbed in and a makeup design. The spirit of the woman then told Tish that there was a better dress in the mortuary closet that she should trade the one she came in with for. She did so, and it made the woman look lovely. Then the spirit instructed Tish to do her makeup in a totally different way and fix her hair a specific way. When Tish was finished, the woman looked thirty years younger and lovely.
When the daughter came in for the viewing, she burst into tears looking at her mother and sobbed to Tish about how lovely she looked. After the service, Tish hand a compulsion to pull the woman aside and sit down with her. That was the last thing she remembered for three hours. When she came to after those hours were over, the woman was crying and calling her mom and thanking her. Apparently the woman's spirit had borrowed Tish's body to impart her last words to her daughter. The spirit hung around Tish for several weeks after, thanking her in dreams and watching over her, and even helping Tish deal with painful personal issues.
When my aunt died and I was seven, my mother cried her eyes out. They were good friends, and I knew my mother missed her deeply. I went to her and told her not to be sad, because my aunt had come to me and told me to tell her that she was fine and would hang around to watch over us for a while, that she was not sick anymore and had found peace. She had warned me a year ago that she would die of lung cancer so we could say goodbye to each other. My mother saw and felt her too over the next few months (necromancy is hereditary on that side of my family). Both of us had incredible coincidences that year that saved our lives, and we strongly felt her presence in those moments and even smelled her cigarettes (a specific brand that are no longer made). Her presence faded gradually, until one day we felt her say goodbye. Still, we both feel her check in on us once in a while.
My mother's Aikido teacher, George, was dying (of spinal cancer, I think). She went to see him in the hospital and spent hours with him as he told her all he had learned in his years as a teacher, his philosophy, his life's understanding. The next night he slipped into a coma, and he died a few days later. His spirit came to inhabit a statue of the deity called Tenuki, a prankster raccoon spirit in Japanese culture. Shortly after that he scared the hell out of my mother by hanging around and critiquing her Aikido performance. She and I talked (as she was afraid she was going nuts, hearing his voice out of thin air) and he eventually apologized to her for frightening her, telling her he was new at "This stuff". When the Dojo started having problems a couple years later and she was getting ready to move, his spirit left the statue in disgust. Part of it seemed to merge with the energy of his beloved Tenuki entity and part went with my mother in the form of the urge to teach others. I feel that he is something like an angel, avatar or aspect of Tenuki now, and I can still feel him around my mother on occasions. Sometimes she comes out with phrases and insights that sound very much like a cross between Tenuki, George and her own philosophies.
My mother encountered another ghost that saved her life. My grandmother on my father's side died in Texas and left her house to my parents. They had to go down to put her estate in order and it was....unpleasant at first due to the painful death she suffered and the fact that her body had been in the Texas heat in the house for a week before being found. Mom said she went through air fresener like toilet paper. Anyway, the spirit was angry at first, and the presence was so strong that my nonpsychic and complete nonbeliever father was getting the creeps. Then my mother started going through my grandmother's posessions and speaking out loud to the spirit. She apologized for not getting along with her in life, and asked for aid in figuring out what grandma would want her to keep or throw away. The spirit talked back and invariably pointed out valuable antiques and told her to throw away junk. One item was a Buddha statue that grandma had made by hand out of cement that practically glowed to my mother, that she put in front of a bay window.
A few weeks later, a hurricane hit the area. My mother and father were terrified as they watched tornadoes hitting nearby houses, and saw one come for them. The tornado hit, and ripped the roof off the house. Both my parents struggled to hold up the window and somehow managed to do so. Then a wall fell on top of my mother. She felt herself being crushed, then felt my grandmother's presence. The several ton wall LIFTED OFF HER BY ITSELF enough for her to crawl out uninjured. The bay window, a wall of solid glass in panes and pieces RIGHTED ITSELF and did not break around them.
When the tornado passed the only thing standing undamaged in the room was my grandmother's Buddha statue that still felt like her.
The house was a total loss, but much of the antique furniture somehow escaped water damage, as did my mother's beloved orchids and expensive sewing machine. The rescuers called it a miracle that my parents survived. Dad was shaken by whatever he saw, and still has nightmares that wake him over two years later. They built a new house on the site of the old, and furnished it with my grandmother's antiques that my mother helped restore. They both feel her presence still watching over them, but fading now, as though the spirit had done what it was hanging around to do.
Don't tell me the dead cannot help the living or are worthless to us. I know better. My parents are alive today thanks to a ghost, and one my mother still feels and talks to. Wherever you are, grandma, thank you for the gifts of my parents lives.