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Dreams, Nightmares And Grieving


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Many of us have dreams and nightmares but as we grieve those can become more frequent and more emotional. So, this topic might be a good place to post dreams or thoughts about them.


This is a wonderful article on dreams. The title is deceptive as it speaks to all kinds of spirituality/religions or none. The title is: I Dreamt of Jesus and a Crowd at the Beach

Here is one quote: "As I stated in other posts about interpreting dreams, if there is a person in the dream ask yourself what that person means to you, what do you think of when you think of that person?"

Another way to figure out what dreams mean is to keep your eyes closed when you waken and go over the dream before your brain is focused elsewhere. When our eyes are open a great deal of the brain is being used. Also keeping a notepad next to the bed and writing the dream down or a tape recorder to catch it before you open your eyes. Remembering a dream is, of course, the first step towards figuring out their meaning.

This article has several links to other sites (one is included in the quote above) and book titles.

Recurring dreams usually are related to working through something that you are not working through during waking hours. I have a recurring dream that I have had for years and it is clearly related to times when I feel vulnerable. If I have that dream, I immediately know I am feeling more vulnerable than I thought and it then leads me to some introspection to see the pieces of that.

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Thanks for expanding this topic, Marty. I believe it is an important one and many here have wonderful dreams that bring great peace all the way to horrific nightmares that stir up pain and even fear. So hopefully we shall see many posting here. I read the article you posted before and re-read it today and like everything you write and post...it is excellent and so helpful.


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Thanks for starting this thread. I have recently become more interested in my dreams and the meanings behind them. I will admit that when my daughter, Margareta, died, I was very disappointed that I wasn’t dreaming about her. I would sit in support groups listening to other people say that they would have long conversations with their deceased loved ones in their dreams on a regular basis. I can count on one hand the number of dreams that Margareta has been in within the last 4-1/2 years after her death, and she's only spoken three short words in one of them. Thankfully, only one of these dreams was a nightmare about her death.

The more interesting dreams I’ve had since her death have to do with my recurring dreams about imminent death that I’ve experienced since I was a child. They have been based on my intense fear of death. I’ve written about the transformation of these dreams in an article on Alive in Memory. Here’s a description from the article of how the dreams typically happened in the past:

I’ve had many nightmares throughout my life where I face certain death – most often of being trapped in a car plummeting off a cliff toward the ocean below – only to wake up seconds before the moment of impact with my heart pounding.

The fact that my daughter died from drowning is not lost on me. My biggest fear realized in recurring nightmares most of my life involved the threat of drowning. But as I describe in the article, I have overcome my lifelong fear of death in the last four years. As a result:

Then an interesting thing happened: in the past year, I have had several dreams where I’m falling towards the water, just as I had dreamed in nightmares many times before. But in these dreams, I didn’t wake up in a panic just before plunging in. Instead, I went into the water and instead of struggling for breath, I surrendered to the situation and relaxed. And in doing so, I didn’t feel pain or panic. Instead, I felt completely at peace.

I just had a dream like this two nights ago. This time, after going into the water and not struggling, but surrendering myself to the situation, I found myself floating peacefully in the starry sky with images of millions of everyday objects surrounding me. I tried staying in that wondrous place, but found myself slowly waking up moments later. The fear of death to me is the ultimate fear of the unknown. What these dreams are teaching me is that the unknown doesn’t have to be scary. I just need to embrace it rather than fight it.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with my most cherished, precious dream I’ve ever experienced. It happened maybe six months after Margareta died. It was at the end of a random dream. I don’t remember anything else about the dream other than walking into a backyard where my extended family was. My husband was barbecuing, and everyone was happy and talking. It was apparent in the dream that I knew Margareta was dead, but my husband was explaining to me that there was something that allowed her to be back with us. I grabbed her in my arms and hugged her tightly and kissed her. Then she cradled my cheeks in her hands, looked into my eyes, smiling, and said, “Mama loves me”. And like that…the dream was over and I woke up with wonderful, happy tears in my eyes. It was exactly what I needed to hear: that my daughter knew how much she was loved and adored. It is one of the few things that make her death bearable – that she had a happy, love-filled life...even if it was only for four short years.

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Maria, this is just breathtaking. I celebrate that dream with you and I know it can only create the peace you describe. Thank you for sharing it here.

Peace, Mary

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  • 2 weeks later...

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Thank you for your beautiful post, Maria. I love dreaming. I don't have nightmares but i do dream and if I remember them when I awake I always feel good. It would be good to dream more of my Jim but those dreams come only once-in-awhile.

Marty, thank you for the post. The information you and others find always helps me on my grief journey. I love the wit and wisdom found on this forum. One thing I am learning is that grief IS hard work and we have to be willing to work on it.


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I'm with you, Jan...I wish I could dream about George. I only have maybe 2-3 times in all these years. I don't get it, I dream about my ex-boss, my ex-husband, why don't I get dreams of the most important person in the world to me?

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Good piece on dreaming includes "However, a small percentage of dreamers have a vastly different experience - they are actually in control of their dream narrative. We call these people lucid dreamers. PET studies suggest that in order to be present and conscious in our dreams, the frontal cortex must be activated in a manner that is similar to being awake. One day science may understand how this happens and teach us all how to take control of our dreams."


And here is one on lucid dreaming


I also think that remembering dreams matters so much here. You may be dreaming about George but not recall it. Recalling dreams can be enhanced by writing dreams down before you open your eyes, by going to sleep thinking about what you want to dream, and by rehearsing the dreams you do remember before you open your eyes. I go to sleep many nights thinking about dreaming about Bill. And I do dream about him a lot and have had some lucid dreams...had one last week. I think we can have some control but like anything it demands presence, awareness and well...some consistent practice and work.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I lost my husband/soulmate on Jan 15,2014 - I have not had any dreams at all about him & I too hear stories in my Group Support meetings of others having dreams. Every night when I go to sleep I hope & pray that I will see him in my dreams, but it doesn't happen. So very disappointed!

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I have found for myself and clients I with whom I have worked that many times if not most, those dreams or signs we long for come when they are not expected and least expected. For many dreams never come and I know that is disappointing. We all long to have anything from our beloveds...that is the pain of their death...the silence and absence. I wish you peace with the absence of dreams and if one should come...I wish you peace with that also.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am so glad I had time to find this topic today, because my dreams of Doug and of Doug and me together have been a significant part of my healing from his leaving. One of my favorite dreams was of the two of us walking through the snow out in our old growth place in Alaska, and as we were walking, we were holding hands and watching the Aurora overhead dancing in all its glory of waving sheets of light, and it was both a memory and a promise. So many dreams.

Of course, my latest one where Doug tells me"they got it all" talking about the cancer is really a great one, and I am holding that dream against the bouts of worry and PTSS that arise.

I think they did get it all, and I don't think Doug would have told me so it if were not true. I look forward to dreams because they usually bring such comforting messages.

Thank you for starting this thread.

Maria, your dream is beautiful and so wonderfully affirming, thank you so much for sharing it.


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