Presentation Title

Perchance to Dream: A Qualitative Study of Women Who Have Experienced Visitations or Dreams of the Dead

Location

Room 2901

Session Format

Paper Presentation

Research Area Topic:

Public Health & Well Being - Mental Health

Co-Presenters, Co- Authors, Co-Researchers, Mentors, or Faculty Advisors

Dr. Michael Sanger, Associate Professor of Social Work, Valdosta State University

Abstract

It has been a common belief that in Western society dreams of the decreased are an indication of complicated mourning and not a normal part of the grief process. What the literature indicates is that in Western society people are reluctant to share their dreams of the deceased for fear of being negatively labeled. However, in other parts of the world, experiencing such dreams and sharing them is not just commonplace but expected. The purpose of this study was to determine if in fact people who have dreams of the dead find these experiences positive or negative and if they presented with signs of complicated mourning. The study consisted of 31 women in a private Facebook group who self-selected and agreed to share their stories related to dreams and visitations of the deceased. The majority of the participants reported positive feelings related to their dreams and visitations. The ones who experienced negative emotions (n=8) either had a problematic relationship with the deceased or the manner of death was upsetting. One thing that emerged was that themes frequently seen in dreams in cultures around the world were common among study participants including messages from the deceased, signs, visitation dreams, dreams where infirmities disappeared, a feeling that the deceased was watching out for the dreamer, and dreams containing nostalgic elements. The results suggest that there might be some universal themes that cross cultural boundaries. The target population of this research is mental health professionals so that they may normalize the experiences of the bereaved, help reduce the social stigma of discussing such dreams, and better understand dreams related to the grief process and not just complicated mourning.

Keywords

Complicated grief, Death dreams, Continuing bonds, After death communication

Presentation Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

Start Date

4-24-2015 1:30 PM

End Date

4-24-2015 2:30 PM

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Apr 24th, 1:30 PM Apr 24th, 2:30 PM

Perchance to Dream: A Qualitative Study of Women Who Have Experienced Visitations or Dreams of the Dead

Room 2901

It has been a common belief that in Western society dreams of the decreased are an indication of complicated mourning and not a normal part of the grief process. What the literature indicates is that in Western society people are reluctant to share their dreams of the deceased for fear of being negatively labeled. However, in other parts of the world, experiencing such dreams and sharing them is not just commonplace but expected. The purpose of this study was to determine if in fact people who have dreams of the dead find these experiences positive or negative and if they presented with signs of complicated mourning. The study consisted of 31 women in a private Facebook group who self-selected and agreed to share their stories related to dreams and visitations of the deceased. The majority of the participants reported positive feelings related to their dreams and visitations. The ones who experienced negative emotions (n=8) either had a problematic relationship with the deceased or the manner of death was upsetting. One thing that emerged was that themes frequently seen in dreams in cultures around the world were common among study participants including messages from the deceased, signs, visitation dreams, dreams where infirmities disappeared, a feeling that the deceased was watching out for the dreamer, and dreams containing nostalgic elements. The results suggest that there might be some universal themes that cross cultural boundaries. The target population of this research is mental health professionals so that they may normalize the experiences of the bereaved, help reduce the social stigma of discussing such dreams, and better understand dreams related to the grief process and not just complicated mourning.