The Comforting Embrace of Visitation Dreams

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Ever been graced with the presence of a loved one who has passed away, coming to see you in your dreams? If so, what were your feelings about this encounter? Did it provide you with a sense of comfort and connection?

And what about the notion of this being a true spiritual visitation… Do you believe in the possibility?

These types of dreams, often termed as “Visitation dreams,” are not uncommon, with research indicating that up to 60% of people who have lost someone report experiencing at least one dream of their deceased loved one.

What could be the reason for dreaming about someone who is no longer present in this waking world with us, and is it conceivable that we can connect with their spirit in the dream realm?

My conviction in this idea was solidified when I had what I perceived to be a visitation dream for the first time. I was a youthful 20 years old, and I awoke from an emotionally charged dream where my Great Grandma LuLu was giving me a long, loving hug. I sensed she was hugging me goodbye.

This dream was exceptionally vivid and real to me. It had a distinctive energy and brightness, and I truly believed I’d received an actual hug goodbye. I hoped I was mistaken and that I could visit her soon to ensure I didn’t miss an opportunity to spend more time with her. That morning, I called my grandmother to propose a visit to Great Grandma LuLu. In a somber voice, she revealed she was about to inform me… Grandma LuLu had passed away in the night. She was gone.

I treasure that hug goodbye.  I have many wonderful memories of my great-grandmother, and I count this experience among them — the night she came to hug me goodbye in my dreams. I’m deeply grateful that she visited me and gave me that one last embrace.

I treasure that hug goodbye. I have many wonderful memories of my great-grandmother, and I count this experience among them — the night she came to hug me goodbye in my dreams. I’m deeply grateful that she visited me and gave me that one last embrace.

Now, as enchanting as this experience was for me as a spiritual moment in a dream, I acknowledge that the dream might have been a result of an intuitive insight — perhaps ESP at work. It’s possible that some part of my awareness, possessing far greater power, could have picked up on the energy of that moment and conveyed that awareness into my dream.

Or my dream mind might have been making a highly accurate prediction… that at 102 years old, my great-grandmother was about to say her farewells. (The timing of my dream was quite remarkable, if that was the case.)

The potential for these possibilities doesn’t alter the fact that, for me, this was a special moment that is just as real as any other moment I’ve lived that now only resides in my memories.

There are other dreams I’ve had that included a deceased loved one among the cast of dream characters, but they didn’t possess the magical feeling this dream had. I didn’t sense a spiritual visitation taking place in these other dreams. It seemed as though they were merely part of the dream story, with no sense of a special connection occurring.

As with waking loved ones who appear in my dreams, it seemed that they were likely there as a symbolic representation of something my dream mind was exploring, and not actually that person entering my dream. Perhaps my dream mind was incorporating them into the scenes because of the associations, characteristics, and traits that I still hold in my mind for them.

Some might feel that any dream featuring a deceased person surfacing is a visitation from the spirit, but I don’t believe that our dreams are as inclined to categorize people into the groups of waking and deceased as we would in our waking minds. In working with my own and others’ dreams, there’s often a reason we can connect with for why this person is appearing within a dream at this time, tied in with the waking preoccupations of the mind and the stories the dreamer is going through at the time of the dream.

It was many years after my heartfelt goodbye from my great-grandmother that I experienced another embrace that felt entirely real to me, and that I believe was also a visitation dream. This time, it was with my dear Uncle Mark.

Mark was unlike anyone else. He was probably the most playful and energetic person I’ve ever known, brimming with tremendous charisma and personality. He wasn’t much older than my sisters and I, so he remained a big kid at heart as we grew up. Being in his care on any given day was always a game or an adventure. And he never lost that fun-loving spirit throughout his life, which is such a beautiful gift.

In his final years, there were health concerns he was dealing with, but he seemed to be doing quite well, appearing happy and healthy. And then, one morning, he was gone. Sound asleep in his bed, seemingly at peace, he slipped away from us. It was a shock, and it was hard to believe that he was really gone.

A couple of months after Mark’s passing, I found myself within a dream, walking through my mom’s kitchen in the dream, and there was Mark, sitting in a chair with an amused look on his face—as if he was up to something (which was just like him).  His appearance immediately shook me out of my unconscious dream state, locking in my lucid awareness that this had to be a dream because Mark had died.

His appearance immediately shook me out of my unconscious dream state, locking in my lucid awareness that this had to be a dream because Mark had died.

I was overjoyed that he was here with me in my dream, and I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity to show him how much I love and miss him. I grabbed him tight and stole a long hug. An overwhelming combination of sadness and joy came over me as tears started streaming down my face.

After a few moments, I let go, and Mark looked down at me with a look of surprise.

He said, “Wow, you’re the first one to do that…” and then I woke up, realizing that the tears were real, as my face was completely drenched in them.

I was overflowing with a sense of gratitude and love for this dream moment.

And as for those words he said, “You’re the first to do that…” My immediate sense was that I may not have been the only one visited, but the first to become consciously aware of his presence within the dreamscape in such a way.

Currently, there’s no scientific consensus on whether we possess a spirit that transcends our physical body, let alone the ability to make after-life contact.

However, there is some fascinating work and research being conducted by the SoulPhone project at the Laboratory for Advancements in Consciousness and Health. Directed by Dr. Gary Schwartz, a senior professor at the University of Arizona, they claim that the SoulPhone™ devices will someday allow us to communicate with our “deceased” loved ones via text messages, phone calls, or videoconferencing. They’ve conducted what they refer to as definitive, replicated, and multicenter scientific experiments that demonstrate the possibility of communicating with the deceased. Can you imagine such a thing? Having a Zoom Call with someone from the other side? That would be something.

For now, at least, when it comes to communicating with our deceased loved ones, our dreams may be the one way we’re able to maintain a continued connection. And we can only feel into the experience for ourselves to decide what we, personally, believe. Certainly, your own beliefs around spirit and soul matters will play a huge role in how you perceive these visitation dreams.

Several theories exist among researchers as to why visitation dreams occur:

  • One is the continuity hypothesis, suggesting that our dreams reflect our waking life thoughts and concerns, including our grief.
  • Another theory is the compensatory function of dreams, where the dream serves to provide what is missing in waking life.  In this case, the presence of the deceased loved one.
  • A study published in the journal *Dreaming* suggests that visitation dreams can be therapeutic. They often provide comfort, aid in the grieving process, and help in resolving unfinished emotional business with the deceased.

I know for myself that these dreams were absolutely instrumental in providing me a sense of peace and connection, being able to better move through my own grieving process. So, if they were the pure healing work that dreams can naturally create for us—I must say, “It works!”

I know for myself that these dreams were absolutely instrumental in providing me a sense of peace and connection, being able to better move through my own grieving process. So, if they were the pure healing work that dreams can naturally create for us—I must say, “It works!”

I happen to have a strong faith that we do have a spirit that carries on beyond this life and that spirit can pierce the dream realm. I’m certainly not alone in that belief. There are many who hold this deeply spiritual perspective regarding visitation dreams and see them as more than just a mental process—believing they are an actual spiritual connection with the deceased. When the topic comes up in my workshops and I ask for a show of hands by those who believe they’ve been visited by a loved one’s spirit in their dreams, the majority of people raise their hands.

So many of us know what it is to have such an experience. You can find a collection of such accounts in the book titled “Dreams and Premonitions,” that’s part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series. Written by Amy Newmark & Kelly Sullivan, they include numerous accounts of individuals that received incredible insights and messages from a deceased loved one in a dream.

Across various cultures and spiritual traditions, visitation dreams are often seen as a form of communication from the other side. It’s believed that the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds is thinner during sleep, allowing for this unique form of contact. It’s often interpreted as a true visitation if the dream is exceptionally vivid, and the deceased appears in a very peaceful or radiant manner. Additionally, if the dreamer receives a clear message or feels a profound sense of love and peace, it’s considered a strong sign of spiritual connection. There are those who have reported that the deceased loved one spoke in the dream psychically, without actually moving their mouth to speak to them.

A good number of famous people have shared their experiences with visitation dreams. For example:

Carl Jung: The Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, known for his work on dreams and the unconscious, reported having visitation dreams of his deceased father, which he interpreted as meaningful encounters that influenced his psychological theories.  Paul McCartney: The former Beatle has spoken about dreaming of his mother, Mary, who passed away when he was 14. In a dream, she reassured him with the words “Let it be,” which inspired the famous Beatles song of the same name.  Martin Luther King Jr.: reportedly had a dream in which he spoke with his deceased grandmother, an experience that he found comforting and reassuring during a time of personal and political turmoil.  Elvis Presley: spoke of a visitation dream in which his deceased mother, Gladys, appeared to him and gave him comfort and guidance during a difficult period in his life.  Queen Victoria: After the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, recorded numerous dreams in her diaries in which Albert visited her, providing her with solace and companionship during her long widowhood.  Dionne Warwick: The famous singer has spoken about a dream in which her deceased grandfather appeared to her and gave her a message that she interpreted as guidance for her life and career.  Lady Gaga: revealed in an interview that she had a visitation dream in which her late aunt, Joanne, appeared to her and inspired the title track of her album “Joanne.”

These accounts demonstrate that visitation dreams can occur across different cultures, time periods, and professions, often providing comfort, inspiration, and a sense of continued connection with loved ones who have passed away.

There are many who hope for a visitation dream. They may even feel hurt or let down by not having been visited—especially if someone else in the family or group of friends has reported they received a visit in the night from the deceased loved one.

If you do wonder why your loved one hasn’t come into your dreams, you may want to first not assume that they’ve not. On average, we people tend to forget 95-99% of everything we dream. Just because you don’t recall such a dream doesn’t mean that you haven’t had one. If you want to be more likely to remember such a dream, should it happen, be sure to check out my podcast episode How to Remember Your Dreams.

While visitation dreams can’t be forced, there are ways to increase the likelihood of experiencing one. Let’s explore some tips if you’re hoping to connect with a loved one through a dream. What are some ways you can encourage a visitation dream?

  • One of the key factors is setting a clear intention before going to sleep. This could be a simple mental or verbal statement, expressing a desire to connect with the deceased loved one in a dream. For anyone who’s ever sat for a reading with a medium, inviting spirit in is usually that first step. Find a way to ask your loved one to come.
  • Creating the right environment is important. This might include keeping a photo of your loved one nearby or holding onto a personal item that belonged to them. It’s also helpful to ensure you have a peaceful sleeping space, clear of clutter, with comfortable bedding.
  • Engaging in relaxation techniques or meditation before bed can calm your mind and enhance dream recall. And, you may want to have a dream journal nearby so that, upon waking, you can capture any visitation dreams that do occur. It’s important to be patient and open to the experience.

Visitation dreams may not happen immediately, but by fostering a sense of openness and receptivity, you increase the chances of having such a meaningful dream.

In addition to connecting with a person’s spirit, there are beautiful stories that others have shared with me about having connected with a beloved pet who is on the other side. Our furry friends are part of our family, and we can miss them dearly. Don’t hesitate to consider your spirit animals as potential dream visitors who can come see you in the night. I hope these ideas provide you with some inspiration, should you be interested in encouraging your own dream connections.

Don’t hesitate to consider your spirit animals as potential dream visitors who can come see you in the night.

It’s clear that whether viewed through a psychological or spiritual lens, visitation dreams hold significant meaning for many. They remind us of the enduring bonds of love and the mysteries that lie beyond our waking understanding. The beauty of visitation dreams is that they offer a sense of connection that transcends physical boundaries, providing comfort and hope in the face of loss.

As we journey through the landscapes of our dreams, the presence of our departed loved ones can offer a bridge between worlds, a tender touchpoint that transcends the boundaries of life and death. Visitation dreams serve as a poignant reminder that love endures, that our connections to those we cherish are not severed by their physical absence. They invite us to explore the depths of our own spirituality and to consider the possibility of a realm where our souls continue to communicate, to guide, and to comfort.

So, whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, I encourage you to embrace the mystery of visitation dreams with an open heart. Listen to the whispers of your dreams, and you may just find a message of love waiting for you in the quiet of the night. And remember, in the words of the great poet Rumi,

“The soul has been given its own ears to hear things that the mind does not understand.”

-Rumi

Thank you for joining me on this exploration of visitation dreams. May your nights be filled with peaceful slumber and meaningful encounters with those you hold dear, both in this world and beyond.

Sweetest Dreams,

Leah

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