Losing a loved one is an experience that everyone goes through at least once in their lifetime, and it can deeply affect individuals in various ways. One intriguing aspect of this grief is the occurrence of dreams featuring the deceased, which often carry profound significance. These dreams, referred to as visitation dreams, are believed by some to provide a form of communication with the departed.
Patrick McNamara, an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at Boston University School, has extensively studied and written about dreams, particularly visitation dreams. He suggests that visitation dreams are relatively common, where the deceased appear vividly and in good health. McNamara, who had a visitation dream after the passing of his parents, even considers them as evidence of life after death. These dreams, he believes, help the bereaved overcome psychological trauma.
Research has delved into the effects of grief dreams, finding that dreams involving the deceased occur frequently and can be highly meaningful, contributing to the healing process after a loss. These dreams often revolve around themes such as reliving past memories, seeing the deceased in a healthy and peaceful state, or receiving messages from them.
In a study conducted in 2016 by Canadian researchers on middle-aged individuals who had recently experienced a significant loss, it was found that dreaming about the departed increased the belief in an afterlife for 67.1% of participants. Additionally, these dreams enhanced their sense of connection with the deceased.
Jennifer E. Shorter, a psychologist at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, has explored the connection between waking life and dreams. She identified four characteristics that distinguish visitation dreams from ordinary ones: the deceased often appear younger or in better health, they comment on their well-being, the message is more mental in nature, and the dream exudes an atmosphere of peace, harmony, and order.
Visitations dreams remain a mysterious and highly personal experience, making it difficult to quantify their frequency. For those who have experienced them, these dreams can bring comfort, reassurance, and a sense of continued connection with their departed loved ones. While the true nature of these dreams remains a topic of debate, they offer a unique perspective on how individuals cope with the loss of someone dear to them.