It was 3 months after my father died. The days prior were long and joyless. That was until I had my first dream of him. The dream changed my grief in ways I still don’t fully understand. In my dream, my father was on the other side of my bedroom and he looked healthy. He actually looked healthier than he ever had before and he had a peace about him that I never witnessed in waking life. I walked up to him and said that I loved him and that I would miss him (acknowledging his death). We hugged, and then I woke up. When I woke up, I just sat on the edge of my bed in wonder as to what just happened. What was that???? Whatever it was, that day the color came back into my life and my love of grief dreams was born.
This experience has forever been hidden in the mysteries of this life. As I talked to other people in casual conversation at the grocery store, hosting the Grief Dreams Podcast, or through my academic research, I have found that this dream experience was not uncommon after a loss. Many bereaved individuals have these positive dreams that can comfort them through their grief journey (including prenatal loss and pet loss). There are positive dreams and there are these profound dreams (like mine). These profound dreams not only comfort the dreamer but also change their lives dramatically. I have found people’s religious beliefs didn’t seem to determine if the dream drastically changed their grief or not. It was beyond that – it is almost as if the dream itself was the catalyst for inner change.
One of the common similarities in these dreams that have changed lives was the feeling of love and peace people felt in the dream. Is it this that changes people from within? Does being in this state of Love provide actual health benefits? Many people state that the feelings they felt in the dream were like nothing they have ever felt before. There is a quote from Neem Karoli Baba that comes to mind. He says “Love is the Strongest Medicine.” When I look at certain dreams, I get a glimpse of what is meant by this quote.
I believe the Love in these dreams is much different than the “love” I feel when awake. It may be because there is so much worry, fear, and anxiety going on in waking life that Love can only occupy so much of my being. In my life, the concept of Love is limited by my experience of it. I have come to understand that as years went on, my concept of Love has changed. The more I reduce my waking day stress and become more present in life, the more this Love grows within. Grief dreams may provide insight into what can happen when we become more and more present in waking life. If the feeling of Love can be experienced in a dream, why can’t it be experienced fully in waking life? My first grief dream gave me a glimpse that this state of being is possible. My goal continues to be to get to that place of Love and remain there.
I had a widow share this loving dream of her deceased husband – My husband came and sat down by my bed, and said, “I’ve been to the end of time and back and you know what? I still love you.”
Don’t miss Dr. Black’s interview: Grief Dreams: Continuing Bonds & Awakening Insights with Joshua Black, Ph.D.