Friday, May 17, 2013

Dreams About the Deceased: Dream Themes and Bereavement (Hospice Caregiver Research)

Have you had dreams about someone close to you who has died? Did the  dreams affect your mourning process? Researchers of dreams and mourning asked these same questions and more to 278 bereaved persons who had been hospice caregivers. The study focused on the relationship between dreams and the mourning process. Fifty eight percent of those who responded said they dreamt about deceased loved ones. Most dreams were pleasant, both pleasant and disturbing, and a few completely disturbing. Which kinds of dream have you had?

Prevalent dream themes included these:

1)   Pleasant past memories or experiences
2)   The deceased free of illness
3)   Memories of the deceased's illness or time of death
4)   The deceased in the afterlife appearing comfortable and at peace
5)   The deceased communicating a message

How did your dreams about the deceased affect your mourning process? Sixty percent of research participants felt their dreams increased their acceptance of the loved one’s death and improved their comfort, spirituality, sadness, and general quality of life.

This research is important because it shows the high prevalence and therapeutic relevance of meaningful dreams among the bereaved. While many counselors may be uncomfortable addressing dreams during psychotherapy with patients, they should consider the relevance of dreams among those who are bereaved. Counselors should consider increasing their own awareness, knowledge, and skills on this topic.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble .

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