Processing Through Dreams

Headed out to a well needed vacation. Thought I’d share this in the mean time:

Processing through dreams can be difficult. I thought I’d share my experience processing my Dad’s death in the dream world.

My Dad was noticeably sick in August 2010. He was diagnosed with cancer in Jan 2011. In Feb 2011, I moved across country to be with my family.

Watching him slowly wither away. One step forward, two steps backward. The cancer always coming out on top. I don’t remember having bothersome dreams during this process. But after he died, it was terrible.

I never became fully lucid in these dreams, though had I been trying at this point in my life I probably would have.

After my Dad passed, I would have dreams with him almost every night. The dreams would vary. I never recorded them, but in the beginning it went somehting like this:

I’m with my family in my childhood home. Dad is there and healthy. Then consciousness slips in and I remember he’s sick. So he becomes sick in the dream. I watch my father go through the process of deterioration due to cancer rapidly. Becoming sicker, thinner, and less mobile. I’m very distraught. Then more conscious thought comes in and I remember he’s dead. I watch him die all over again in the dream. I grieve his death all over again. The initial strong emotion of the finality hits me all over again.

Something to this extent happened night after night. I relive the cancer and his deterioration over and over for 2-3 months.

Eventually the dreams shift into something different:

My Dad appears. He is alive and well. “What are you doing here dad? You died.”

“No, I didn’t. I was very ill and they took me away, but I got better.”

I am so thankful. Happy. I have my Dad back. I wake up full of joy into a hypnopompic like state of half consciousness. My Dad is alive. Wait, is he? Where am I? What’s happening? Is my dad alive or dead? I hover in this state. Caught between dreams and the waking world. Unsure of my Dad’s status. Confused. Then I wake fully to the memory that he is in fact dead. It’s like I lose him all over again. A rush of sadness washes over me.

These dreams continue almost nightly for a couple months. As time goes on I have a harder and harder time accepting that he’s still alive. How could he have been gone for so long?

I don’t know if this was the last dream of that nature or not, but I remember this one the strongest:

Dad appears alive and well. “Surprise!” he says “I’m back.”

“What do you mean you’re back? You’re dead.”

“Not anymore.”

“But how can you be alive after being dead for so long?”

“I just am. Accept it.”

“You can’t just come back to life Dad. That’s not how it works. You need to stay dead. You were dead. You can’t just keep coming back upsetting everything.”

This dream in particular had troubled me for years. I don’t remember exactly what I said to him, but something about not wanting him back. He can’t be here. He’s dead now and I may have said something like – it’s better that way or it’s better now or we don’t want you back. I can’t remember exactly what.

I felt awful when I woke up. I felt awful for years. Why would I say that to him? I love my dad. It’s not better with him gone. I felt guilty after this dream. Like a horrible person. At some point I began wondering if I was so harsh with him because it was painful having him come back and then end up still being dead. Alive then dead, alive then dead. So finally I just told him to stay dead. I don’t know.

After this dream, the dreams either stopped or severly slowed down. If this was not the last it was close to it.

I stopped dreaming of my Dad for awhile. Now when I do dream of him, he’s healthy and I don’t remember that he’s dead. It’s just like normal life. Sometimes happy, sometimes fighting. Never cancer ridden. Never weak and dying.

It is interesting that after all this I haven’t realized he’s dead in a dream again.

I have a childhood friend who passed away 10 years ago. Last I saw her she was 16, though we were mostly friends when she was 4 – 8. She died at age 23. I was never plagued by dreams of her, or dreams of any other deceased family or friends. But sometimes she is in my dreams, often she is around 10 years old, but sometimes 23. More than half the time I know she’s dead, but I’m not lucid. Usually I don’t tell her she’s dead. I want her to enjoy the moment of life that she has and not ruin it.

Thinking back on my Dad. There is an idea we can contact deceased people in our dreams. I’d like to find my Dad. See if I can bring him into a dream. But I think he will be mad at me if I do. I have a fear of bringing him into my dream. Like it would be disturbing his peace. I’ll have to think on this one.


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