A recent plot twist in a certain popular television show got me wondering whether people have actually reported receiving calls from the dead. And it turns out that indeed, this is one of the most common forms of accidental communication with ghosts. Hundreds of cases have been reported over the years since the telephone was invented, and no doubt hundreds more went unreported for various reasons.
Phone calls from the dead
A common - if unnerving - phenomena.
1. The witness gets a phone call from someone. The call is usually brief and succinct. The caller may ask "Are you okay?" or say "I love you." Later, the victim learns that the caller had been dead at the time of the call. (In a rare sub-set of this form, the witness receives a call from someone that they already know to be dead, like a parent who died many years ago. By far, most calls from the deceased happen within 24 hours of the death.)
2. The witness gets an urgent phone call from someone living. The caller later swears that they meant to call the witness, but never got around to it. (Perhaps they placed the call in a fugue state, or perhaps some aspect of their intention caused the phone call to happen.)
3. The witness places a call to someone. Later they learn that the person they called had been dead at the time.
This phenomena is not limited to land lines, but it does seem to happen on land lines a preponderance of the time. Perhaps because land lines, being physical media, have a whole host of interference noises that can be manipulated, wires that can be loosened, and sensitive equipment at every stage of the line.
Edison himself believed that the telephone could be used to contact the dead. Edison had a lifelong fascination with the paranormal, and even attempted to build a telephone specifically for contacting the dead.
A slightly different form of phone call from the dead occurs with cell phones, where the deceased's cell phone places calls to people whose numbers are stored in the phone's memory. Invariably in these cases, no sounds are heard from the other end. In fact, one famous case of this sort has been rated "True" by the esteemed Snopes.com.
In these cases, it may be that the calls are placed by a slight bit of physical manipulation, pressing a few key buttons to cause the call to go through to a stored number.