My niece is just getting into kindergarten, and was very close to my father- as close as my sisters and I were. He passed away suddenly around 2 years ago after falling ill and was gone within 24 hours. We still aren't sure what fully caused it, but it was rather fast, and we don't believe he was in any pain at the time of his passing.
The kids were not brought to the hospital due to my sister and her husband not wanting to scare them by taking them to the ICU. Dad was fairly normal (for him) the last time they visited "Papa", and I imagine looking at their grandfather laying in a bed and hooked up with tubes could be scary for them.
What bothers me a little is that my niece claims that he still visits her- always at night, and he never says anything. He just smiles at her and then leaves. She didn't give me a lot of other details on how he comes or goes and I didn't press her since talking about it made her a little sad, and we feel that she has just finally started to accept his passing. The last time she saw him, she told me, she woke up to find him looking and smiling at her fish tank. The tank was a birthday present that was given to her by my mother, and that was after he had passed away.
I don't see any of this type of visitation as hostile or anything, as she seems happy that she still gets to see her "Papa". But I am concerned that this might be some sort of imaginary friend? I have no kids of my own and am not sure how to respond. She didn't seem to accept that he was gone until she badgered my mother into showing her his ashes, after which she broke down and cried, saying she missed him.
She seems to accept it now that she has seen the ashes, and has no fear of asking to open the container to show everyone else, and apparently wants to "bury him with Grandma's watermelons since he liked watermelons".
What has thrown my Mom for a loop, and one of the things I wanted some advice about, was how to answer her when she asks why he can only visit her at night. We have been somewhat realistic about paranormal activity, as my sisters, mother and I have all had our share of experiences personally over our lives, but even so, we don't know what to tell her.
Do you think she could be dreaming it out of a subconscious desire to see him again? Or do you think he really is visiting? She is the only one that sees him, but like I told Mom... Maybe she just needs him more than we do. I would like to know what to tell her, but she is only a kid, and I don't want to tell her something that makes no sense to her or that she will never understand.
I think we all would like to have something to tell her, aside from "Well, honey- I really don't know why he only shows up at night." Or is this just a child's overactive imagination? Rook was kind enough to give me some ideas while the story posting feature was down, but I wouldn't mind hearing other opinions about this, if only to help my sister figure out what she can tell her daughter when we get hit with these awkward questions. Thank you.