This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 10 table of contents.

Death-Reconciliation Dreams

The death-reconciliation dream is a type of dream, apparently occurring in all cultures, in which a dead person puts in an appearance. The departed one may "explain" the death or indicate the death was "OK" or "meant to occur" or "had to be." The dead person may say, "I'm up in heaven; don't worry," or the dreamer may use the opportunity to say a few last words, never spoken in real life. In some cultures, the appearance of a dead person is a special omen of good or bad events.

What is a "death-reconciliation dream" and how can it help people?

To a person not fully reconciled with the death of a loved one, such dreams can be emotionally refreshing and cleansing—cathartic in the best sense. On other occasions, a dream involving a recently deceased person can be scary. Sometimes the dead person seems to be saying, "Don't disturb me or wish that I was back alive." Either way, such dreams seem to help surviving friends and relatives adjust to a death and emerge from a mourning period.

My father died when I was 12 years old. When I was younger I always wished I could show my father all the things that I had accomplished in my life. One night I dreamed that he came back to life. He told me that he had come back to talk to me and find out all the things I had been doing. In my dream, we talked for only a short while but it gave me a great deal of satisfaction. When I awoke from my dream, I felt as if I had really spoken to my father. It was a feeling that I can't really explain to this day. [Author's files]

Paul McCartney, interviewed in Musician (October, 1986) said the song "Let it be" was partly about a death-reconciliation dream.

Musician: That's your mother invoked in "Let it be," isn't it?

McCartney: Yeah, I had a lot of bad times in the 60s. We used to lie in bed and wonder what was going on and feel quite paranoid. Probably all the drugs. I had a dream one night about my mother. She died when I was fourteen so I hadn't really heard from her in quite some while, and it was very good. It gave me some strength. In my darkest hour, Mother Mary comes to me. I get dreams with John in, and my Dad. It's very nice because you meet them again. It's wondrous, it's like magic. Of course, you're not meeting them. You're meeting yourself, or whatever...

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