In our dreams of the departed, we have the opportunity to interact with the dead as if they were still alive, and much healing from grief can be achieved.
Grief is a very complex psychological and emotional process. Denial, anger, regret (the “what-ifs” and “if-onlys”), sadness, and an array of related thoughts and feelings are all part of the journey from loss to acceptance. Most dreams associated with loss are related to the grief process, as explained in more detail below and in the book I Remember You: A Grief Journal by Laynee Gilbert.
It is in our dreams that we have the unique opportunity to encounter the departed as if they were still alive in physical form – we can look at them, converse with them, even touch them. Much of our healing from grief is achieved through our dreams because, in our dreams, our emotions are raw and unfiltered, without the controls we put on consciously or unconsciously in the waking world.
Early in the grief process, it is common to have dreams that are disturbing reenactments of the initial trauma of the death. If these dreams persist, it might be a sign that we are stuck in the initial grief stage of shock or denial. Repetitive dreams challenge us to confront reality. The more nightmarish the repetitive dream, the louder the call to face what has happened and move on with the business of living. Although taking that next step may in itself seem frightening or unpleasant, the fact that we are having these dreams means we are ready to do so. Our dreaming self will guide us where we need to go only when we are mentally and emotionally capable of being there.
Feelings related to grief are often difficult and confusing. For example, while it may not seem logical to be angry with someone for dying when it wasn’t that person’s choice, it can be a natural part of the grief process. In our dreams we can work through this anger. A young man shared one of his dreams with me, in which he and his recently deceased wife were at a party together. In the dream, his wife decided to leave early, and he was furious with her for doing so. The dream was a metaphor, as the young man was angry about her dying (“leaving early”) when they had three young children to raise. His conscious self found it too disconcerting to have such irrational anger, so his dreaming self stepped in and provided an outlet for this repressed but natural emotion.
In some dreams of the departed, the contact with the one who has died feels uncannily real. These visitations are very common but often spoken of only in private. If you’ve had a dream like this, or if you do in the future, respect it for what it is. Don’t torture your rational mind looking for explanations. Simply write out the dream in detail and honor the sacred gift that has been bestowed on you.
People come and go in life, but they never leave your dreams. Once they’re in your subconscious, they are immortal.
– Patricia Hampl
By Michelle Carr
Dream Factory, Psychology Today
…There have been cases where the evidence suggests that dreamers have truly contacted the deceased in their dreams, a finding that may force us to reconsider current conceptions of consciousness and the boundaries between life and death…