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In Your Dreams

Visits From Beyond Can Be Encouraging or Quite Disturbing

October 13, 1998|CYNTHIA RICHMOND

In the recently released film "What Dreams May Come," Robin Williams, who plays Dr. Chris Nielsen, assures his wife, "You can see the dead again in your dreams if you really want to."

Many readers of this column have sent in dreams involving departed loved ones. Some are loving and encouraging. Others are quite disturbing. One reader continues to dream of her mother's death, each time from a different cause. If you are having disturbing dreams of departed loved ones and you wish to put an end to them, I suggest the following:

Put your request in writing--in your dream journal or on a note pad. Put this at bedside. Actively imagine your loved one moving on to a better place. Send them off with a mental bon voyage party! Forgive them if you can for any misunderstandings or past actions; this will help release them from your unconscious mind.

You may even want to write a letter of forgiveness in your journal. Perhaps bringing author Maya Angelou's words to mind will help, "They did the best they knew how to at the time and when they knew how they did better."

Whatever life hands us, no matter how unfair or wrong it is, it is up to us to learn, grow and move on from the experience or stay stuck in the role of victim. As you drift off to sleep, ask to have a dream releasing your loved one to a better place.

The following are some of your letters concerning dreams of the dead:

Dear Cynthia: My husband died two years ago after a lengthy illness. In my dream I said, "Arnold come to me." My husband appeared before me, dressed in the white shirt, tie and slacks he had been buried in. He had the most beautiful smile and his face glowed of happiness, health and love. I said, "Arnold, touch me." As our hands touched, I felt an electric current run through my hand and up my arm. I know it is natural to dream of loved ones who have passed on, but the electricity generated by our hands touching baffles me. Thank you.


Apple Valley

Dear Reader: Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience! We are electric beings. The brain and nervous system communicates through electric impulses. In fact, all matter is made of energy vibrating at its own precise frequency. Many believe that the spirit that remains intact after the death of the physical body is made of energy vibrating faster than any solid matter. In your dream you requested contact with your late husband and I believe the feeling of electricity you experienced is evidence that you did indeed connect with him. Consider it a gift from him, proof that he still exists in a different form but is happy and remains loving toward you.


Dear Cynthia: My oldest son passed away in 1985 at the age of 14. At least four times a year I have the following dream. I am sitting on the beach and I see him walking toward me. We are both overwhelmed with feelings of joy and contentment. I tell him how much I love him and have missed him. We hold each other for a long time and I actually feel him next to me. After a while he says he has to go back. I have an instant fear of losing him all over again. I panic and beg him not to go. He says he has to, then smiles and disappears. I wake up with my heart racing and in a state of panic. Help!


Los Angeles County

Dear Reader: In the language of dreams, the beach represents the place where what we know, consciousness--represented by the sand--and what we don't know, unconsciousness--represented by the water--come together. It would seem, then, the perfect place to reunite with your deceased son. As yet we have no scientific proof of an afterlife, so it is an unknown. Tell that to anyone who has had a near-death experience and they will just smile knowingly, much as your son does in your dream. In time science and technology will evolve to be able to prove the existence of life after death. Since you describe the visits as joyful, I do not suggest that you make efforts to stop having your recurring dreams. To avoid the feeling of panic that follows, remind yourself that even though he has to "go back" he will visit again.


Dear Cynthia: My mother has been dead since 1971. I dream about her fairly often. Almost every dream has some form of water connected to it, such as swimming pools, oceans or tears. Does this have any meaning? I have been anxious about these dreams for many years.


Culver City

Dear Reader: Water in our dreams generally represents two things, the unconscious, or that which is unknown to you as in the dream above, and/or your emotions. As time goes on, and you experience life, there may be times that you miss your mother or appreciate her in new ways. Emotions you thought you had put to rest may resurface. When you have these dreams, try to journal your feelings about your mother. Express them whatever they are--anger, gratitude, love--on the pages of your private journal. This will make you more aware and very likely change the tone of your dreams.

If you are grieving the loss of someone, I suggest you go and see "What Dreams May Come." It is absolutely beautiful and reassuring. I found it very therapeutic as well as wonderfully entertaining.

* Behavioral therapist Cynthia Richmond's column appears every other Tuesday. To contact her, write to "In Your Dreams," Life & Style, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, or send a fax to (213) 237-0732. Please include a daytime phone number. Letters should be no longer than 100 words and cannot be returned. "In Your Dreams" should be read for entertainment purposes only.

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