Sometimes strange things happen to us when we close our eyes to sleep. For some of us, we’re visited by deceased loved ones.
American scientists found that 60% of women and 40% of men often have dreams of deceased relatives and friends. In the dream, living and dead people meet and talk. U.S. scientists are trying to figure out if these dream models can explain the inexplicable. Are we really meeting and talking with our deceased loved ones?
“The tradition of scientific skepticism in the U.S. says that dreams are a random nonsense,” says Kelly Bulkeley, former president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams.
“It is a “tragedy” because people who have such dreams feel ashamed,” says Jeffrey Long, founder of the After Death Communication Research Foundation.
He gathered evidence of more than a thousand people. Studies conducted, with the help of brain imaging, suggest that the prefrontal cortex area of the brain, responsible for logical thinking, is “turned off” when we sleep. Instead, parts of the brain, responsible for imagination and emotions, are activated during sleep, which could explain visits of dead relatives in dreams.
In 1999, the four-year-old son of Glenn Lord died from complications after a tonsillectomy. Soon after, Lord began to dream that his son, Noah grew up and became a healthy young man. Lord was comforted by these “visits”. But in 2002, he had a dream in which Noah introduced him to two boys:
“He explained that he had to go, but these boys will stay with me. When I woke up, I told my wife that he would not come into my dreams anymore. This was exactly what happened“.
Lord said that the last dream meant that Noah was fine and reminded him that there were other children who needed love. In late 2002, Lord and his wife adopted two brothers from a Russian adoption program.
Analyzing dreams of deceased loved ones
In Michigan, a conference of “The Compassionate Friends” takes place every year and is devoted to parents whose children have died. This July, the conference was attended by approximately 1.1 thousand parents. Participants learned that typical “dreams of sorrow” are often fragmentary and full of symbols. They have many common topics, such as a trip: for example, the sleeping person comes out of the plane or train, and their deceased loved ones go on without them.
The conference was held by Charles Blow from Colorado who lost her five-year-old son Kevin in 1991 when he was hit by a truck while riding a bicycle. Since then, she has been keeping a dream journal, which seems quite helpful to her. Dreams of Kevin brought her relief from grief, and even painful dreams were light.
Once she dreamed that she entered the house and saw Kevin who was standing on the stairs and crying because he was left alone. She sat on the stairs and comforted him.
At the conference, Charles asked the participants what words came to their minds in connection with this dream. They said: guilt, love, and helplessness. Then she offered her interpretation: it was the house of death, and she had to die before Kevin, in order not to leave him alone there. The dream helped her realize how much it weighed on her.
On the other hand, such dreams need less interpretation. In these dreams, those who died from a severe illness, are healthy; if they were in wheelchairs, they can walk.
“These dreams may seem “prophetic” to those who have them,” says Bill Guggenheim, co-founder of the After-Death Communication Project, independent research group.
Women are more open to such kind of signs in dreams, while men rarely talk about it, the researchers say. Guggenheim suggests that men are afraid of being found odd or overly obsessed with sorrow.
“For the men, it is very important, what their colleagues and friends think of them“, he said.
“Scientists cannot answer the question whether these dreams are a way of communication with the deceased or just an expression of our deepest desires,” says Bulkeley.
But, as Blow said, “A dream of a deceased relative or friend is a gift. Do not delve into the analysis, just accept it with gratitude.”