Haunted Stories instill a sense of fear. They stop us in our tracks and make us think twice about everything we think we know and understand. Yet, it holds an element of fantastic mystery. No matter how hard we avoid it, the mere mention of the word sparks curiosity. Even if we refuse to entertain the idea, there is still that moment of contemplation. Curiosity and wonder take over, and for a few moments, our hearts quicken and flutter.
Love resonates deeply with humans. Unlike other emotions, where people might react differently, love is a constant. It's the excitement that quickens our hearts, the warmth that floods our bodies, the hope that blooms, and the sparks that ignite. But what happens when these two collide? What is our fascination with haunted love stories?
Grief Leads To Obsession In These Haunted Stories
A woman who lost her husband and every close relative in the span of one year, and her infant daughter only a month after birth, believes that spirits have cursed her and are seeking karmic revenge. The story of Sarah Winchester may be one of the most famous real-life, tragic love stories ever told. Her life was that of a typical socialite. She was married to the love of her life, and they were wealthy. But a series of events would turn her entire world upside down. One that would go down hauntingly in history.
Mediums and Grief
It’s no surprise that Sarah sought guidance from a spiritual medium after the death of her husband, William Winchester in 1881. It was common for grief stricken family members to attempt to contact the deceased in the late 19th century. However, Sarah received more than a loving message from her husband.
The medium advised Sarah to leave Connecticut and build a mansion of epic proportions. During this time, Sarah herself became an expert at contacting the spirit world. She believed wholeheartedly that the spirits killed by the Winchester rifle (the weapons named for her husband's family and the item that contributed to Mrs. Winchester’s ample inheritance) were responsible for her loss. Sarah spent the rest of her days in almost complete seclusion. For 38 years, she took refuge behind the walls of a home built to the specifications she received from spirits during her séances.
Séances and Our Haunted Stories
It’s not known if Mrs. Winchester ever attempted to contact her husband in these séances, as she only conducted them alone. But I hope she spent the final decades of her life not only trying to appease what she believed were angry spirits but also seeking the comfort of her loved ones on the other side.
Some historians believe that the idea of Mrs. Winchester’s continuous building had nothing to do with her communicating with the dead. But rather, she wanted to feel as she did when her husband was alive and the two of them built their home in Connecticut. It is known that once Sarah arrived in California, she purchased not only the land that the Winchester Mystery House now sits on but also property in Southern California, as well as a houseboat that was kept in Burlingame, CA. Perhaps the elaborate building brought her comfort and reminded her of her life before her entire world crumbled.
Love Leads To Heartbreak
In Sudbury, Massachusetts, in the idyllic countryside sits the 300-year-old Wayside Inn. It’s not only the expanse of its age, though impressive, that beckons visitors, but the tales of love, loss and death that are so compelling.
Jerusha Howe was the daughter of one of the families who has cared for the inn. She was known as the “Belle of Sudbury,” a talented pianist, singer, and very intelligent. It’s said that she turned down every suitor that approached her, except for one, an Englishman, whose name is not known. But according to legend, Jerusha fell deeply in love and accepted his proposal. He returned to England to make wedding plans, but he never sent for Jerusha, and he never returned.
Devastated, Jerusha spent the rest of her days caring for the inn at her brother's side. She never married, and she passed away at 45, presumably from a broken heart.
Guests who stay in Jerusha’s old bedroom, room 9, often report that they feel someone curl up next to them in bed, or see her in the room in the darkness of night. Interestingly, these encounters don’t seem to be too frightful. They are more comforting and curious.
Jersusha can be heard playing the piano, her citrus perfume can be smelled, and there are reports of her sweeping past guests on the stairs. Over the years, people have taken to leaving notes of their encounters in room 9 and have stuffed hand-written letters in the crevices of the ceiling, where the old beams are still visible. They are left in any crack and drawer, intentionally in view for future visitors to find.
Does Love Transcend The Spiritual Veil?
Is it only the potential to experience ghostly activity that lures visitors to these historical locations? What keeps us enamored by haunted stories of love and loss?
The possibility of life beyond this one has captivated human civilization since the beginning of time. Attempts to contact the spirit world goes back hundreds of years. Our longing to once again see our loved ones who have passed, to hear their voice, feel their presence, prove to ourselves that there is nothing to fear once we leave this life, drives our pursuit. Did Mrs. Winchester believe that her husband would come through at some point while conducting her seances? Some say she thought that once work on the house was done, it would be the time that she would die. Did William come through and tell her it was time to finally join him on the other side? Or was she at the mercy of the angry spirits, and at last, she was free of their wrath and could finally join her beloved.
What Keeps Us Seeking?
Our innate curiosity to understand the truth and find a reason for our existence and beyond feeds our desire to search deeper for answers. Do we continue living on a different plane of existence with ones who have passed? If so, why did Jerusha choose to stay behind? Does she know she has passed on? Does she feel so betrayed by the Englishman who captured her heart that she can't bear to move on and face him? Perhaps she believes that he was lost at sea, and she’s staying behind, hoping that they will cross paths again one day?
It’s this lack of concrete evidence that propels us to seek out tales to fulfill our imaginations —desperately hoping that someday, we’ll have proof that we will once again re-connect with those who we’ve loved and lost.