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Dreams of the Dead

September 17, 2008

By Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Copyright Visionary Living, Inc.

Two weeks after my father died, I had a vivid dream in which we sat in the living room of his house and talked. In the dream, I knew he was dead, and we were having a real encounter. It wasn’t wish fulfillment. It wasn’t just grief. It wasn’t “just” a dream.

In the dream, we sat in the house where I grew up and discussed his unfinished business. Dad had died suddenly of an aneurysm and had left behind a calendar full of things to do. I argued that he could not stay on the Earth plane, and at the end of the dream, Dad left to go to work in his new life. When I awakened, I felt that I played a significant role in Dad’s transition.

Dad died in 1983, and the power and intensity of that dream remains with me to this day. I am not alone in this experience. The most frequently reported extraordinary, or “encounter” dream involves a deceased person. One of the greatest ways that our dreams help us is in dealing with the death of a loved one.

The modern Western world tends to look upon dreams as imaginary events. Yet our own heritage–as well as the views of the non-Western world–have treated dreams much differently: as genuine events that occur in another reality. I have come to share this view after a lifetime of study of dreams.

The ability of the dead to actually visit us in our dreams has been accepted in many cultures since ancient times. Relationships, especially with family, are seen as continuing after death, with the recognition that the ancestral spirits have the ability to intervene in the lives of the living. Most spiritual traditions around the world accept dream contact with the dead as positive, and having a beneficial effect for both the living and the dead.

In the modern West, we “psychologize” these dreams. We hold them at arm’s length as expressions of wish fulfillment–we wish the dead were still alive–or expressions of unresolved guilt or anger. That may be true, at least to some extent.

However, some dreams of the dead are different. They are charged with energy and carry a realism that distinguishes itself from our other dreams. We awaken from such dreams wondering if we were asleep or awake. These dreams are real events. We know.

Such dreams have a high spiritual content, bringing tremendous power to affect us as deep levels of our being. Through them, we confront the great mystery life and death.

Contact dreams leave a strong impression. Look for these elements: vivid imagery and bright light; sense of touch; intense emotions; an electrical atmosphere; unusual settings and landscapes; messages with a big impact; and lucidity (knowing it’s a dream while you’re in it).

Contact dreams have a purpose. Often they are for the resolution of unfinished business, as in my dream with Dad. They serve as reassurances, in which the departed one says, “Look, I’m fine, don’t worry about me.” Sometimes they establish a bond of love across the veil, in which the departed one takes on a guardian role of living loved ones, and offers advice about situations in life.

I often meet people who desperately wish for such a dream with someone they’ve lost, and also people who are puzzled that the dead have chosen to visit them in dreams instead of someone with whom they have a closer emotional bond. What happens in both of those cases?

Certainly emotions play a major role. We are most likely to have dreams of those we strongly love, rather than more distant friends and casual acquaintances. I believe that something in our consciousness also is a factor. Some people seem to be more naturally psychic or intuitive than others, and this ability may facilitate this kind of dream.

I believe that one should allow these dreams to happen of their own accord. We can be open to them and even ready for them. But I do not think it is wise to try to force them. We do not know what happens on the other side of the veil, where people go and what they need to do. If we call them back to us, insisting on contact, we may hinder them rather than help them. Dream experiences, like other experiences of contact with the dead, may be best initiated from the other side.

Encounters with the dead in dreams do help us through our grief and unresolved issues. They continue our relationship with other souls on a new level of consciousness. And, they open the door to another realm, perhaps convincing us or confirming for us survival after death, and giving us a glimpse of eternity.

For more information, see Dream Messages from the Afterlife by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, published by Visionary Living, Inc., 2103.)