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You’re sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying a cup of warm, black coffee. Suddenly, a familiar scent enters the room that you just can’t place. It’s soothing, though, and it puts you immediately at ease. Then you see her, crossing through the living room and heading toward you. It’s Grandma. But no, it can’t be. She passed away two years ago and you miss her so much. But there she is, right in front of you, taking a seat at the kitchen table with you.
You wake up and slowly begin to reorient yourself with place and time. The dream starts to fade, leaving you with a lot of feelings and confusion. What did it mean? Why her?
Dreams about dead family members can be incredibly disconcerting and disorienting. Having the ability to understand those dreams better can often bring a sense of peace and clarity to an otherwise potentially upsetting situation.
Deconstructing and Interpreting the Dream
The best way to look at any dream, not only those that feature your dead relatives, is by evaluating it as larger pieces of a whole. If you can take a step back and look at all of the different factors, it can help you to truly understand what your dream was trying to tell you.
Start by evaluating the overall tone of the dream. How did you feel in it? Happy? Mournful? Angry? While much of dream interpretation is about the physical, one of the most often overlooked areas is feeling. Don’t discount the feelings the dream left you with, as this is one of the greatest clues to help you deconstruct your dream.
After noting the general feeling of the dream, try to focus on the setting. Where was your dream located? If it was in a house, what room? Living rooms often speak to how you feel socially (as this is the room most people entertain in), while kitchens are strongly related to positive transformation and comfort. Backyards can indicate feelings that you want to keep hidden, and parks are usually related to a desire to escape your current reality.
Also, take the time to remember any colors that stood out to you. For instance, black suggests the obvious themes of death and mourning, but can also represent potential and possibility. Blue can suggest truth, loyalty, and wisdom, and green can represent positive change, money, and hope. If your dream has a very obvious color theme, it is very likely that your subconscious is trying to tell you something.
The next step is to try to remember any objects that stood out. What’s the first thing that you remember about your dream? Is it a vase sitting on the fireplace mantel (can signify competition)? Is it a picture on the wall? What is in that picture? Try to remember everything about it, then interpret it. This is especially poignant if the item you remember strongly is a real item from your dead relative. A quick look at any online dream dictionary can help you find out what those items really mean.
Once you evaluate all pieces of your dream, you’ll be better able to figure out if there is any specific message your subconscious is trying to tell you. Look at every small detail because, in dreams, everything has the possibility to be important.
Remember, in many cultures, it is considered good luck to dream about your ancestors. These types of dreams are often precursors to positive things for you and your family – weddings, pregnancies, etc. Our dead relatives can become our guardian angels, keeping an eye out for us even when they are no longer physically here. Try to look at it as the blessing they truly are.
What If It Isn’t Just a Dream?
In some cases, having “dreams” about your dead relatives can actually be more than that. Even if you aren’t aware of any potential psychic gifts you may have, don’t simply ignore dreams where you are being told something specific. While general dreams may not have specific messages, spiritual visions often come with very memorable statements that you may often wake up with the need to write down. Often this is due to your family member having unresolved things they need to get across to you, and the dreams will stop after you can interpret them and act on whatever it is that they want you to know.
Another sign that your dream may be more than that is if it involves lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when you have a dream in which you are aware that you are actually dreaming. This can also include being able to control your dream, or noticing that your dream is much more vivid than normal. In cases like these, you should still attempt to interpret your dream through normal channels, but also pay special messages that you may receive.
One thing to know about dreams about your dead relatives where they seem upset or crying is that, while they can be extremely disturbing, the messages that they are trying to pass across to you can often help you learn to help them get their own closure and let go enough to move on. Try to look past your own feelings to the heart of the message and the matter, and follow them exactly to help your loved one with whatever they are struggling with on the other side. They chose to come to you for a reason, acknowledge your importance in their life and cherish this attempt to not only see them one more time but also to assist them to thoroughly rest in peace.
The Importance of Managing Grief
While the actual dream itself and the message and setting are important, sometimes dreams about your dead relatives serve a more simple purpose… helping you work through the grieving process. While people sometimes think that they have dealt with their grief, it can pop up in unexpected ways. Considering the brain helps us process our feelings, even unconsciously in our sleep, it makes sense that a dream of a dead relative can be a way to subtly remind you to seek counseling or to work through your grief in a healthy way. The grief process isn’t always linear, and it can take quite some time to really work through all of the stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). Don’t be afraid to seek help.
Signs that you may need to seek help with working through your grief include feeling a sense of general emotional numbness, avoidance of friends and family members, loss of enthusiasm and enjoyment of life, thoughts of self-harm, and trouble eating and/or sleeping.
Although not common, dreams, where you experience strong emotions, have the potential to attract negative spirits. These kinds of dreams leave you emotionally open and vulnerable so try to guard and protect yourself if you start to regularly have them. It may even be worth performing a cleansing and protection ritual on your home or bedroom space so that you can work through and process your emotions without worry about other, more insidious forces. Even using salt lamps in your bedroom can help negate some of the bad energy that is attracted to grief, and sadness.
Parting Thoughts About Dreams of Relatives, Loved Ones, and Grief
So, if you’ve recently had a dream about a dead relative that you are struggling to make sense of, start by listening to the message and interpreting any meaningful signs that appeared in it. It can also be helpful to start keeping a dream journal next to your bed so that you can record as many details as possible as soon as you wake up, while the dream is still fresh in your mind.
Also, remember that if you’re struggling, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to a spiritual advisor or grief counselor to get help. Dreams can be confusing in the best of circumstances, and if you have one about a close loved one, it can be even more disconcerting. An experienced professional can help you work through all of this and hopefully gain some closure. There are also grief support groups that you can attend so that you can network with people who understand exactly what you are going through.
Knowing how to read your dreams can take some of the confusion and sadness out of the equation, leaving you with clarity and a sense of peace that you may not have had before. It also allows you to see and experience family members that you might not have been able to physically see or talk to for years. Look at it as a gift! Our loved ones never truly leave us, they just simply move on to another plane of existence. Dreams about them remind us that we always hold that connection, no matter how far away they may feel. Just make sure to be vigilant if you have them regularly, to insure that no negative energy is attracted to your home.