The experience of losing a loved one is a universal aspect of the human journey, and the impact of such a loss can be more profound than we might anticipate.
Consider, for instance, the times when you’ve dreamt of someone no longer in the realm of the living. Often, we don’t ponder the significance of their presence in our dreams.
Grieving is a highly individual process, with people expressing their sorrow in various ways. Some openly weep, while others retreat into silence and introspection. Some attempt to carry on as if nothing has changed, avoiding thoughts of the loss altogether. Yet, a common thread among many is the practice of recalling departed loved ones within the realm of dreams.
The content of our nightly dreams is shaped by the subconscious, and if you’ve ever dreamt of someone who has passed away, it might hold a deeper meaning.
Can the departed communicate with us through dreams?
According to Patrick McNamara, an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Boston University School, dreams where the deceased appear to the bereaved are known as “visitation dreams”. McNamara, who blogs under the name Dream Catcher on Psychology Today, argues that these dreams often have a rational explanation, aiding in the healing process after emotional trauma.
Drawing from his personal experience, McNamara recounts a visitation dream after the loss of his parents, asserting that even a scientifically skeptical mind like his could not shake the conviction of communicating with the departed.
While McNamara is not alone in his curiosity about such dreams, various studies have delved into the subject. A 2014 study in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care emphasized the frequency and meaningful nature of dreams of the deceased, suggesting their role in healing from loss.
In 2016, Canadian researchers examined the dreams of individuals who recently experienced significant loss, finding that a substantial number believed their dreams strengthened their faith in an afterlife and enhanced their sense of connection to the departed.
Psychologist Jennifer E. Shorter, from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California, has also explored the intersection of waking life and dreams. According to her findings, visitation dreams exhibit distinct features, such as the deceased appearing healthier or younger than in life, conveying their well-being, and the dream having a telepathic quality.
While there is no conclusive evidence on the frequency of visitation dreams, they can occur shortly after a loved one’s passing or even years later. Such dreams often unfold in a peaceful, well-structured state, imparting a sense of harmony.
Have you ever dreamt of a departed loved one? Share your experiences in the comments, and feel free to engage in the conversation.
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