Your dreamtime encounters with the deceased mirror my own experiences last summer into fall (August through November of 2019). During that time I was visited by a host of shades: my late mother (who passed the previous year) appeared with my father in one dream I recorded, and on her own in three other dreams (in fact, this “I see dead people” dream series began with a dream where my mother breathed into my mouth – not artificial respiration, but gently blowing warm breath as a ritual act of sorts); a good male friend who passed some 14 or 15 years ago, at age 49, appeared in two dreams (in one of which I recounted for him a tale of Zeus shattering the gold and glass body of the son of Hecate with a thunderbolt – though I am unaware of Hecate having a son); a former girlfriend and one of my best friends, whom I had known since seventh grade, appeared in two dreams; another romantic interest, 13 years my junior, who beyond our brief dalliance also became one of my closest friends, only to die a few weeks shy of her 49th birthday, showed up in a significant dream; another good friend in his seventies appeared in a dream of mine just weeks before his passing in October; and then a trio of well-known figures who had recently passed – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Leonard Nimoy, and billionaire David Koch – put in cameo appearances.
Several possible explanations come to mind – one of which may be that you and I, Shaheda, are people of a certain age, who know a good many more friends, relatives, and confidantes who have passed away than we did at age 20 … or 30 … or 40 (I’ll stop there, but you get the idea); as a result, could just be there’s an expanding pool of friends who have died that our psyches can draw on to populate our dreams.
The other possibility – just as likely, if not more so – is that the images of the dead serve as a bridge, whether to the underworld (“the other side”), or to Jung’s “collective unconscious,” bringing, as you put it, “messages from the other side of the veil” – which resonates with the dream act of Mary passing in the carriage with her grandparents over the Bridge of Gold and Silver into the otherworld. (Frankly, I’m not terribly concerned about drawing a distinction between the realm of the dead and the collective psyche; subtle differences there may be, but the congruence between the two seems apparent).
I can make personal and mythic associations in such instances to the circumstances of my waking life (and I do) . . . but, in my experience, these are far more than just abstract symbols.
For example, my mother died at the end of the first week of June in 2018; exactly two weeks before she passed, I encountered in dream my best friend Lisa (who had succumbed to cancer a few months before, at the age of 48 – exactly half my mother’s age). We met in a doorway, as I was passing into a rustic lodge of some sort, and she was heading out. We fell into animated conversation – felt like we had so much to say to each other, so much catching up to do – and enjoyed a sweet exchange there on the threshold.
Lisa paused a moment to let me know she had been asked to use her place to host a party for my mother. She seemed about to say more, but then turned her head, as if becoming aware of some interruption. She peered back into the room to her right, seemed to recognize someone, called out “Hi Diane!” – and then turned back, smiled at me, and continued on her way. I looked past the door in the direction Lisa had been looking, and there, on a couch, was my sister, Diane, hair disheveled, face bloated, expression a grimace, looking as if she had had a rough night.
I stepped through the doorway, and then I woke.
As I opened my eyes in the waking world, I automatically reached for my phone. Turns out a text had landed at exactly that moment – 7 a.m. – from my sister; though I don’t recall consciously hearing it, that “ding!” must be what interrupted the dream! Diane’s text was alerting me to a change in plans later in the day; she was feeling under the weather after a shitty night’s sleep, having been awake since 2 a.m.
Frankly, I had spaced that we had plans to meet later in the day to discuss my mother’s situation. We don’t see each other that often, she wasn’t in the habit of texting me, and I don’t have different ring tones or message alerts for different individuals, so there is no reason my brain would have expected my sister was be texting me and so translated that realization into a subconscious dream image.
What I found myself wondering is, “How did Dream Lisa know?” The text from my sister alerting me she was sick interrupted the dream – just as, in the dream, my conversation with Lisa was interrupted when she turned to acknowledge my sister, who was clearly not well. (Lisa had met Diane only once, in passing, many years before – little reason for my psyche to connect the two.)
Dream Lisa telling me she was preparing a welcoming party for my mother might possibly be explained away as a function of subconscious associations: Lisa had died shortly before, my mother was dying now, so could easily be a soothing production of my unconscious psyche, reconciling me to the inevitable – there is a sort of logic to that.
But there is no way Lisa within my dream could have known that a message outside the dream from my sister was interrupting our exchange … and yet she did.
Not the only time an encounter in dream with a resident of the otherworld / underworld has bent the bonds of time and space, but this remains one of my favorites. Definitely reassuring to know preparations for my dying mother’s arrival were under way on the other side . . .