Many parapsychologists and psychics for instance do not believe the common idea that ghosts are confused or lost and do not know they are dead. So the notion that ghosts need the living to guide them toward the light is not always true or necessary.
If this is believed then what do ghosts know?
Loyd Auerbach in his book, Hauntings and Poltergeists gives several reasons why he feels ghosts are self-aware. In the cases he has been involved with the apparitions he has studied have clearly communicated that they know they are not living.
So some ghosts do not hang around just because they think they are still alive. So why do they stick around? Auerbach lists the reasons that the apparitions themselves have communicated.
It appears ghosts do have a choice. The reasons they stay around are varied. Some stay basically because they fear what is to come next. Others stay because they feel better and more comfortable close to the people or places they are familiar with.
Ghosts often state they are still around because they are looking for something. Yet others stay because they have fond memories of being loved etc.
What is interesting is apparitions don’t necessarily tie themselves down to one place. This is back to the fact they obviously have choices. Most traditional stories of hauntings tie ghosts to one place: a home, hotel, restaurant, etc.
But there is evidence that ghosts actually enjoy moving around in their local surrounding–such as neighborhoods. Some even move great distances. There have been many cases where a ghost will move with a person or family they are attached to.
One story that is told in Corrales, NM–this area is a haunted corridor–involves a helper ghost by the name of Betsy who is known to be a kitchen helper. She moves from home to home and helps by placing items that people have lost in their kitchens on a counter where they can find them.
Apparitions do tend to stick to areas where they are most comfortable but some have more than one place.
Loyd Auerbach mentions that since ghosts do seem to have free will it is not always the best or most appropriate thing to ask them to move on. Despite the fact that the presence of ghosts might make some uncomfortable it must be kept in mind that ghosts do not pose a threat. If a ghost does not want to move along it should remain their choice.