Dreams that focus on the early stages of mourning after the loss of a loved one are often dreams in which the dead person is still alive and well, and continuing to participate in your life. You may, for example, dream of having breakfast with them or taking a walk in the park, just the same as you did when they were alive. The reason for this is that your dreaming mind has not yet accepted the person’s absence from your life. This is a natural and healthy type of dream to have in the first phase of mourning as it allows your dreaming mind to escape the pain of reality. Some dream analysts describe such dreams not as denial, but as a catalogue of all the memories the survivor has of that person.
You may well find that feelings of hostility or anger feature in these dreams because, along with deep feelings of sadness, there are also feelings of fury that the person you cared about has left you. You may have dreams that express how guilty you feel; for example, you may dream that you are once again tending your sick relative but your attention is focused elsewhere and you can’t make them feel comfortable; similarly, you may dream that you become sick yourself or try to prevent the death happening.
At some point, however, your dreams will begin to reflect the grief and awareness that your loved one has died. Perhaps you dream you are at a restaurant and suddenly realize you need to eat alone because your partner isn’t delayed. Such dreams are often characterized by deep sadness and tears, and it is quite normal to feel depressed after having one of these. You may find yourself revisiting earlier stages of your grief again at this time, and it is very common for dead people to come into dreams to let us know it is time to stop mourning. Even if your spiritual beliefs lead you to believe that the person who has died is still with you, you still need to go through the grieving and healing process, acknowledging all the good and bad feelings you had about this person and what their death means to you. Dreams can help you with this process and experts believe it typically takes around two years to fully pass through all the stages of grief.
But what if you are still having vivid and emotional dreams of a departed loved one ten years after their death? It’s possible that you are still holding onto feelings of love and anger. Perhaps you are stuck with your grief or are simply unable to process it. For example, you may dream that a loved one keeps turning up and shouting at you.
If you have always been taught that showing emotion is a sign of weakness, then such a harmful and narrow stereotype is interfering with the natural processes of grief. Your dreaming mind will therefore highlight the issues that are stopping you completing the grieving process and moving forward with your life.
If you find yourself unable to resolve ‘unfinished business’ and move beyond feeling stuck in the grief process, consulting a therapist could be helpful.
Bear in mind that that for which you mourn may not be solely your family, friends and pets. You grieve for what you have lost and your dreams may express your sense of loss concerning important objects, such as a home; important relationships, such as the end of a marriage; important projects, such as losing a job you loved; important dreams for the future, such as the loss of a baby due to a failed IVF attempt or miscarriage; and important feelings, such as the loss of trust if you have been the victim of a violent crime. Make note of whom or what you are mourning and try to ascertain which stage of grief you are in. Do your dreams reflect this and do they give you a suggestion for how far you might begin to accept the loss?... The Element Encyclopedia