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Visitation dreams, also called back to life dreams, are among the most intense dreams that you could have. They’re also extremely common, especially if you’ve lost someone you knew closely. These types of dreams can linger long after you’ve woken up, making you think about what the dream could mean. Was the deceased person trying to tell you something? What was the underlying message of this dream? While we can’t say for certain, because there are so many variables in analysing a dream like this, there are some common meanings that tend to underly dreams of a dead person visiting you.
The Science Behind These Dreams
First, it’s important to understand that visitation dreams are common and often occur during times of stress, transition, and grief. The scientific understanding of visitation dreams is theory-based.
One common explanation is that these dreams are a normal part of the grieving process, helping us cope with loss. The brain constructs these dreams as a way to process complex emotions, memories, and thoughts associated with the deceased loved one.
But sometimes, these dreams can simply be a reflection of our waking thoughts. It’s natural during times of grief to think about the deceased person a lot. These thoughts can then manifest in such dreams.
Some psychologists believe that visitation dreams are part of what’s known as the “continuing bonds” theory, which is the idea that a relationship with a loved one can continue even after their death, primarily through memory, storytelling, or dreams.
Why You’re Dreaming of a Deceased Loved One
There are many reasons you could be dreaming of a loved one that has passed. Here are 9 main reasons for a visitation dream.
1. You’re Grieving
Losing someone close to you can be extremely difficult and visitation dreams can be a part of the grieving process. This is especially the case if the person passed away unexpectedly or in challenging circumstances. In these cases, seeing them in your dreams can provide a sense of comfort and closure, and help you mourn your loss.
2. You Miss Them
If you and the deceased had a great relationship and spent lots of time together, your dreams of them might simply be a way of remembering the good times. You miss their company and their insight and your dreams bring them back for a short time. It’s completely normal to miss someone that you loved; just because they’re no longer alive doesn’t mean that we have to stop thinking about them or missing them.
Think about this as a way for your loved one to visit you and spend time with you. Rather than being afraid or trying to stop such dreams, you can see them as time spent with a loved one.
4. You Have Unresolved Issues
Visitation dreams can also indicate unresolved issues or feelings about the deceased. Were there things that should have been said before the person passed away? Are you looking for closure? Do these dreams leave you feeling conflicted and unsure? If this is the case, it may be helpful to seek professional help, like a grief counselor or psychologist, to work through these emotions.
5. You Feel Guilt or Regret
Dreaming can be a way for our subconscious minds to process complex emotions that we might be unable to address fully in our waking hours. If you’re harboring feelings of guilt or remorse over something related to a deceased loved one, these feelings can surface in your dreams. This could be anything, from an unresolved argument, unexpressed feelings, or actions you wish you had or hadn’t taken. It’s your mind’s way of grappling with the regret and seeking closure or reconciliation.
6. They’re Guiding or Warning You
In many cultures, it’s believed that the departed return through dreams to give guidance and warnings. If you’re going through a hard time, dreaming about a deceased person can be your way of dealing with the issues at hand. You may find yourself having to make a tough decision and yearn for their advice or encouragement. This is especially the case if the deceased was a mentor to you or an elderly person.
Sometimes, these dreams can be almost precognitive. It’s like the deceased person is trying to warn you or tell you something that is about to occur. A reader recently wrote in to us:
“My niece and her husband were going through a rough patch but we didn’t really know about it. However, I saw my deceased mother in a dream, where she looked worried and said that we needed to keep the couple together. Why is everyone trying to separate them, she asked. When I woke up, I was confused, and I tried to reach out to my niece. She told me she and her husband had temporarily separated. One month later, he took his own life.“
In cases like this, the dream serves as a catalyst for action, encouraging the dreamer to intervene, offer support, or simply open a line of communication that may have otherwise remained closed.
7. You Have Not Accepted Their Death
One of the most common reasons you see a deceased person alive in your dreams is that you have not yet come to terms with their passing. Consciously, you know that they are gone but deep inside, this hasn’t registered yet. Because a part of you has refused to let them go, it’s no surprise that you will keep seeing them in your dreams.
8. You’ve Found Closure
If you felt happiness in your dream or if the tone of the dream was positive, it might indicate that you’ve found closure and are ready to let go. Dreams can let us know that we’ve processed our grief and are finally able to accept the loss of the loved one. You might wake up with a bittersweet sense of happiness and sadness. It’s ok to feel closure, it’s ok to accept the loss, and be prepared to move on. Accept this and allow yourself to feel happy.
Who Was the Deceased Person in Your Dream?
Sometimes, the meaning of seeing dead people alive in dreams depends on the relationship you had with the person. Here are some of those meanings.
1. Dream of Deceased Relatives Being Alive
Sometimes you may see dead relatives in your dreams appearing to be alive, healthy, and happier than they were when they are alive. When this happens, you are comforted that everything will be okay. This is also their way of telling you that they are in a better place than they were when here on earth.
2. Dreaming of Deceased Mother Being Alive
Motherhood is the embodiment of care, naturing, love, and shelter. Seeing your deceased mother in your dreams may mean that you lack these things in your life and that you crave them. If she used to be your place of peace and affirmation while alive, it could also mean that your subconscious is seeking inner peace and confidence.
3. Dreaming of Deceased Father Being Alive
Fathers are figures of authority, protection, and providence. Seeing your deceased father in your dream may be an indication that you lack these qualities in your waking life or that you crave them. You may be seeking guidance and support.
4. Dreaming of Deceased Sibling Being Alive
A sibling is like no other. They often share the same experiences, hopes, and dreams that we have. A dream of a deceased sibling could mean that you miss having someone in your life that you can talk to, who comforts you, and always has your back.
5. Dreaming of a Deceased Spouse or Partner
Dreaming of a deceased spouse or partner can be a deeply emotional experience, reflecting your subconscious mind’s process of grief, healing, or yearning. In many cases, such dreams are an expression of unresolved feelings or a longing for closure. The dream may serve as a way of continuing communication, allowing you to address feelings or thoughts that you may not have had the chance to express during their lifetime. It’s also possible that your subconscious is attempting to offer comfort or reassurance by manifesting the presence of your deceased loved one.
Common Dream Scenarios of a Deceased Person Being Alive
While every dream is different, there are some common scenarios of seeing a deceased person. Whether it’s them ignoring you or asking you to follow them, these dreams carry their own meanings. Here are some of the most common scenarios.
1. Dreaming About Refusing to Follow a Dead person Somewhere
In some visitation dreams, the dead person might be asking you to go with them somewhere. They might be smiling or holding out their hand to you. And because you miss them so much, it’s almost a relief to think about going with them. But these types of dreams are usually a warning. While you might want to go with them, deep down you know that’s not your path. You know that you don’t belong with them right now. It’s best to resist that pull.
If you wake up saddened by this dream or wishing you had gone with them, know that that’s ok. But it’s not your time and you shouldn’t be with them right now. Let them know that it’s ok for them to go on without you. Give them the peace of knowing that you’ll be ok and that they can move on from you.
2. Dreaming of the Deceased Being Alive and Well
In such dreams, you may see the deceased person going about their daily routine as if they had never passed away. You might see them making breakfast in the kitchen, or engaging in some activity that was usual for them in life.
This kind of dream could suggest that you are in denial or have not yet fully accepted their death. It might also mean that you miss them and wish for a reality where they are still with you. You may still be processing your grief and that’s ok.
3. Dreaming of Conversing with the Deceased
In this scenario, the deceased might be giving you advice or sharing their wisdom with you. This dream could signify that you are seeking guidance in your waking life, or it might be a reflection of your subconscious using the wisdom of the deceased to solve a problem.
4. Dreaming of the Deceased Being Sick or in Pain
If you see a deceased loved on in sickness or being in pain, you might feel distressed. These dreams can be especially disturbing, but they might reflect your feelings of powerlessness or guilt over not being able to prevent their passing or alleviate their suffering. This type of dream is common if the loved one passed away from a debilitating disease or had protracted suffering.
5. Dreaming of the Deceased in a Peaceful Setting
This kind of dream usually brings a sense of peace and closure. Perhaps you saw the deceased in a beautiful garden or walking by the beach. Sometimes, the setting might be a place that the deceased loved when they were alive. This type of dream can be a reflection of your acceptance of their passing, or your subconscious reassuring you that they are at peace. Embrace these dreams and the sense of comfort they provide.
6. Dreaming of the Deceased Ignoring You or Walking Away from You
This kind of dream can be particularly distressing. You might have wanted to speak to the deceased person in the dream, but they didn’t acknowledge you in any way. This dream scenario can highlight the fact that now, the deceased person is in another realm. You can no longer have a relationship with them. However, these dreams can also reflect feelings of abandonment or unresolved issues with the deceased. If you experience such dreams, it could be beneficial to seek help from a professional, such as a therapist or a spiritual counselor, who can guide you through your feelings and help you find resolution.
In a Nutshell
In the words of A. A. Milne (author of Winnie-the-Pooh), “We dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long, for if we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time”. Seeing our dearly departed alive in our dreams keeps them with us and that way, they are never really gone and we’re never really alone.