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Do Deceased Loved Ones Visit Us in Dreams?

Updated on April 10, 2012
My grandmother, who lost her battle with breast cancer at age 76, was the light of my life.
My grandmother, who lost her battle with breast cancer at age 76, was the light of my life.

I was devastated when my grandmother lost her battle with Stage IV breast cancer and was taken from us in February 2010, after putting up an all too brief but very valiant fight for nearly two years. Nanni was the matriarch of our family, the glue that held us all together, and she was adored by her four children and eleven grandchildren. My mother was young when she gave birth to me, and my biological father was nowhere to be found, so it was my grandmother who was there in the delivery room the day I was born. She cut my umbilical cord and released me into this world, raised me as her own for five loving years, and remained my one true guiding light no matter how far she was out of sight. We had a bond that wasn't typical, it came from such a higher, stronger place that it made all earthly connections pale in comparison. She saved my baby teeth, my locks of hair, my baby jewelry, my Baptismal candle; she documented my every milestone in such a detailed way you'd have thought I was her firstborn daughter, though obviously I wasn't--I wasn't even her first grandchild, yet somehow I was always hers.

When she passed, the only thought that could give me comfort was that she would visit me in my dreams. I had had experiences like this in the past. My friend Heather, the first loss that really resonated with me, died suddenly at the tragic age of 16, and I began dreaming about her immediately following the funeral. She was always happy and healthy and surrounded by children (she had aspired to one day become a social worker, she loved kids). I'd come across her in the children's section of the library and say to her, "Come back with me, come back. Come to the adult section." And she'd just smile and reply cryptically, "I can't come with you, Jaclyn. I liked it there, don't get me wrong...but I like it here better."

Another soul-shattering loss was that of my best friend when we were both 26-years old. A lifelong sufferer of primary pulmonary hypertension, Danielle was not expected to make it past her third birthday. She beat those odds over and over again before the disease finally became too much for her to bear. Not long after her passing, I dreamed I saw her in the distance across a green, sunlit field; we went running towards each other at break-neck speeds, she wrapped me up in the biggest hug possible, and for a moment it was like she wasn't gone at all. In other dreams I'd be worrying and fussing over her, and she'd take my hand between both of hers, look me deep in the eyes and say, "Jaclyn, I'm fine."

My grandmother crossing the finish line triumphantly at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Oct. 2009. You'd never believe it by how healthy she looks in this picture, but we lost her five months later.
My grandmother crossing the finish line triumphantly at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Oct. 2009. You'd never believe it by how healthy she looks in this picture, but we lost her five months later.

I always knew that these dreams were more than just dreams. There was a vivid, meaningful quality to them that transcended anything my subconscious mind could create. I'll never forget the first time my grandmother visited me in a dream. It was one month after she had passed, and in the dream she was standing in front of a mirror fixing her hair. Nanni had always taken great pride in her appearance, but of course many months of chemotherapy had ravaged her blonde hair. In the dream, however, her hair was back. It was beautiful and even healthier than it had been before she got sick. I stood next to her in front of the mirror and she started hugging me and telling me about all the great things we were going to do that day: go for a bike ride, watch the sunset, play some golf, spend time with the entire family, etc. As happy as I was, I was also concerned. I said to her, "Nanni, that's so wonderful and I would love to do all those things with you. But you're gone now. I know you love us and want to stay with us, but you have to go to heaven. As much as I wish you could, you can't stay here any longer. Think of all the people who love you who are waiting for you in heaven -- Mom-Mom, Uncle Eddie, Aunt Carol..."

"I know that," my grandmother reassured me. "But don't worry about me. I'll get there, but it's my choice when I want to go, and for now I want to be here to watch over all of you for a little bit longer." She hugged me one more time, gave me the biggest, brightest smile, and then I woke up.

How to Tell if a Dream is a Visit from a Loved One

Our minds are trained to think logically. Our mantra is, I'll believe it when I see it (although a more accurate motto should be I'll see it when I believe it.) But when something truly spiritual happens, you can't deny the tug at your heart that tells you, "This is real."

  1. A visitation from a deceased loved one is always positive and loving. There is no negativity. If you dream of your loved one and the feelings that accompany it are fear, pain, anger, hatred, then this is definitely NOT a visitation. Those are human-based, fear-based emotions. None of those feelings exist on the other side. If a loved one who has departed is able to summon the strength required to reach you, and you are able to open yourself up enough to receive their message, rest assured it will only be a message of love. Negative dreams are simply subconscious constructions.
  2. The dream is vivid. You will awake remembering every detail, and will be able to hold on to those details for months or even years to come. Your surroundings will be beautiful and peaceful, and there will be an intense clarity not normally felt in standard dreams.
  3. Your loved one is happy and healthy. Since there is no sickness or pain on the other side, your loved one will usually appear looking her best. If she died of cancer, her hair will be fully grown back and perhaps more beautiful than you ever remember it looking. Most spirits will visit looking close to the age that you were most familiar with, but there are some who choose to come back with a look, or at an age, that they were happiest.
  4. They give constructive, worthwhile advice. My grandmother gave me three separate pieces of advice, in three separate dreams, one of which was very brief and she simply said, "Don't go back to school. Write that book instead." I knew this was a visitation from her spirit. My mother, on the other hand, dreamed of my grandmother one time and the dream was frightening. Nanni looked haggard and hunched over, and she whispered, "Your sister's going to lose her girls, and you're going to lose Jaclyn." That was absolutely NOT a visitation, as it did not come from a loving place.
  5. They give warnings. Although my mother's cryptic dream was not a visitation due to it's negative vibe, it is not uncommon for deceased loved ones to find a way to reach you if they have a real warning to share. (i.e. your grandfather, who lives alone, fell down the stairs, please go check on him.)

In my experience, the visitations occur less and less frequently as time passes and you begin to heal from your grief. This saddens me greatly. I wish every day that my grandmother could visit me every night and I could feel her arms around me just one more time. I understand that this is not possible, however, nor is it necessary. She came to me when I needed her most, in the months just after her passing, and I know she will come again if it is in my best interest. I comfort myself with the thought that she is ALWAYS with me, and I look forward to the day when she and I can meet again.


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    • profile image

      Check Shyong Quek 

      5 years ago

      I would really like to know if anyone out there has had the same experience as I did. I am a Christian and did not know and would not have believed this 40 day-visitation of the soul until my mum passed away in December last year. The first week or during the 9 days after her passing, there were signs that she came to visit me by unmistakable smells and fragrance. The first one was the unmistakable smell of my mother with her skin moisturizer; the second one was the same smell plus fragrance of a flower which I did not really know what kind of flower it was. The third time which lasted the longest, about 6 to 8 seconds was totally the fragrance of the flower which was a strong fragrance. The next day I went to my friend's house and his friend who was staying with him got to know about this and went to my friend's garden and brought back some flowers which is JASMINE and it was exactly 100% the fragrance I experienced the night before. After that, I am a total believer in this 40 day-visitation. My church actually forbids us to believe in all this and told us that the soul sleeps after death until resurrection day but now I Know this is not true - the soul does visit their loved-ones and give signs to try to comfort them. I am comforted by the signs but I am still in great agony because the loss is real in a physical sense where I could not see her physically anymore and I do not have the chance anymore to care for her, cook for her, wash her laundry, buy her favourite foods, etc.. And now that she is gone, I only realized that it was a privilege and enjoyment to serve her while she was alive because we enjoyed talking to each other very much and she was always there for me no matter what! And I will always remember that My Mother is the only person in the world that truly loves me unconditionally.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I had a visitation from my dad last Saturday. My dad passed away Jan 29 2012 of lung cancer.

      After he passed, my husband dreamed of him in church with my family celebrating. He was younger and healthy my husband says. He never dreams he says.

      I had signs I felt was from my dad. My computer saver is my dad. I would be on Internet and the internet had gone to computer saver and there would be sun rays on his picture.

      My dream felt so real. I was in church walking down aisle. I see my cousins. Then I see my dad. I saidy dad what you doing here. He said I will always be with you. I starting crying with him. My head was on his lap. I said dad I'm sorry for burden you with my problems when you had yours. He said I will always be there for you. I was crying with him and hugging. He said it will get easier as time goes by. I don't remember how we ended it. I remember sitting next to each other. I'm sure we talked more but I remember what needed to be remembered. I woke up at 12 am. I was at peace. I cried of happiness. I love him so much. We weren't close when I was a child but we made up for lost time. I thanked him for this.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hello, what a lovely hub, and your Nanni sounds like an amazing lady. I often dream of being at my Mum and Dad's house just in the course of a usual visit, like we always running around being noisy, Mum and I drinking coffee and Dad reading the paper. My Mum died suddenly at 64, a clot, and my Dad missed her so badly that he stressed himself to a stroke and then decided to quit eating so he would also pass. I am glad to have been with him at the time he left this mortal world so I could hold his hand in case he was scared.

      I wish I had dreams where I knew it was them visiting with me in the 'now" but I haven't had one such as the one you describe. I do believe that they will be around me when I need them though, and for that I am grateful.

      Have a wonderful day, and thank you for sharing your Nanni with us :)


    • By Lori profile image

      By Lori 

      6 years ago from USA

      What a nice Hub. Yes it's true that a dream that is especially vivid or real is more likely a visit from a spirit. I've had dream visits from both of my brothers who passed on, and come to think of it, from my Dad as well. It's great to know they are OK

    • bac2basics profile image


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Jaclyn. I just saw this hub under one of mine after answering a comment this morning. What you say is 100% correct. I have had my husband come back to me in dreams too. He also came through a medium and I feel his presence still from time to time. I really like the way you turned that saying around to I´ll see it when I believe. Believing is all we can do as there is no way to prove what we sense and see in our dreams. But like you say there is no denying that tug at your heart which tells you " This is real". I really enjoyed this hub, and know what you say is the truth.

    • Lilleyth profile image

      Suzanne Sheffield 

      7 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

      That is so comforting to me to know you and your grandma are close. My Grandma Jennie was my sidekick until she died and I would be delighted if she showed up in a dream to speak to me. This hub is so wonderfu. Thank you for sharing.

    • becauseilive profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from N.J.

      My grandmother visited me in a dream last night, and this is the only place I really wanted to talk about it. It's been close to a year since I've connected to her like this, and I was missing it SO much. When I was going through a hard time last month (cleaning out her old house), I would pray before I fell asleep and beg her to come visit me in my dreams. I was desperate for her comfort during that difficult time. She never showed up, and I understood, but then there she was last night, on a random day out of nowhere!

      In the dream we were sitting on her bed talking. She's wearing a headwrap and I know she is dying, but her face looks healthy and beautiful. "Listen to me," she says. "You're going to marry a wonderful man. He's going to love everything about you, from your head to your toes." It was at that moment that I realized I was connecting with her soul, and not just dreaming. It was interesting to have that realization during the dream. I feel happy, but I know she'll be leaving soon.

      She reassures me, saying, "You are never alone. I am always with you." She's struggling to keep her eyes open as she's talking, so I tell her, "It's okay, Nanni. Let go. You can rest now." She says, "I know, I just don't want to leave you yet. I'm only going to take a nap." I feel sad, but extremely at peace. I woke up almost sobbing from the intensity of it all, but there were no tears, just peace and comfort.

      Also throughout the dream, while she and I were chatting, I kept referring to my son. In real life I don't have any children and I'm not pregnant. But in the dream I was in the early stages of pregnancy and did not yet officially know the sex of my child, yet I somehow KNEW it was going to be a boy. Very interesting dream, and I just wanted to share!

    • Lilleyth profile image

      Suzanne Sheffield 

      7 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

      Lovely hub which answers a lot of my questions about dreaming of deceased loved ones.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      7 years ago from West Coast

      Absolutely love this hub! Voting up. Thanks for sharing the story of your grandmother. I lost my grandmother 11 years ago we were incredibly close because I was her only granddaughter (she had many grandsons that she loved too). I still have very vivid, positive and loving dreams about her.

    • Nevada Logan profile image

      Nevada Logan 

      7 years ago from USA

      What a great tribute to your Grandma. I think one has to be open to this to be able to feel and see the spiritual part of it. I too had a vision while awake. I was in my shower and I saw in my mind my close friend who died a few months before, with beautiful skin(he had a skin problem) long hair flowing, which looked so healthy and his teeth perfect, his tatoos were all gone and he was laughing and dancing with small children. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Here on this earth, he was a mentor to his neices and nephews and in my vision I saw his perfections. It was something I can still see today.

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      An excellent and very moving hub!

      I've had a few paranormal and spiritual experiences both in the dream state and while awake. You are right about the dreams that are meetings with spirit. They are totally different in feeling, presentation and content to any other dreams - probably because they are not dreams but are actual astral visits. you also remember every single detail for years to come - I've never forgotten any of mine and some go back 20 years or more. What also makes these 'dreams' different, and this is only my personal experience, was that I always knew hours before hand that they were going to happen that night.

      Our loved ones don't come back all the time for a few reasons. But the main one is that they also have work to do on the other side. But also, we have to work through our own lives as part of our development. If we always had those special, loving people in our lives, our progress might not be what is should be.

      A really lovely and very enjoyable hub.

    • becauseilive profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from N.J.

      @diogenes - I think you may be right. I have lost others (great-grandmother, great-uncle, etc.) who passed after they had lived long lives and were in need of eternal rest, and I never dreamed about them. My grandmother was very young at heart and still healthy and active when she got her breast cancer diagnosis. She wasn't ready to die, so in that sense yes, she was taken from us way too soon. Although I will always admire how even at the end of her life and in so much pain, she still said "God is good."

    • becauseilive profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from N.J.

      Thanks for the comments, guys. @JamaGenee, I have read that not everyone is able to receive dream visitations from loved ones who have died. It doesn't mean that they love them any less than the family members that they CAN communicate with. Some people are just more sensitive and open to reception, and that makes it easier for the loved one that has passed to visit and be heard.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      @CR, I never looked at it that way, but perhaps those of us who are sensitive to their presence DO emit a different (or "brighter") energy than those who aren't. A very interesting concept. Thanks! ;D

    • CR Rookwood profile image

      Pamela Hutson 

      7 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      Wow, THAT is a story! I do think they are always around, and people who can see or sense them--they flock to us.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      @CR Rookwood - Doesn't sound nuts to me at all! Where I used to live, some of my Dearly Departeds used to pop in for visits on a regular basis when I was wide awake.

      And then there was the time I volunteered to drive a (by then deceased) friend's van back to his widow 70+ miles away. Another friend who'd borrowed the van "forgot" to mention Bret's spirit liked to hang out in the van. A most interesting trip considering I spent most of it telling a disembodied voice in the passenger's seat things like "NO, you CANNOT drive because A) you're dead, and B) if you COULD drive now, people would freak on seeing a van cruising along at 70 mph with nobody behind the wheel".

      If the friend who'd borrowed it hadn't had much the same experiences (plural), I might've thought I was imagining the whole thing, but I wasn't.

    • CR Rookwood profile image

      Pamela Hutson 

      7 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      Awesome hub. Yes I think it definitely happens. I have also had the experience of a visit without being asleep--not seeing the person, but having a profound sense that the deceased loved one was in the room. Sometimes I get that with a very warm 'golden' feeling. (That must sound nuts, but I don't know how else to describe it.) I think what you say here is right on and I'm so grateful you shared it.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      What a wonderful tribute to your Nanni, as well as the friends who left this world much too soon. Love the photos, too!

      As far as deceased loved ones visiting in dreams, it's something of a common occurrence for me. The first couple of times, I questioned whether they really were "visits" or simply wishful thinking on my part. But things the loved one said were nothing I could've imagined them saying while they were still alive, so I decided they WERE real.

      My dad, for instance, was a regular comedian once he got to the Other Side. My mother had NO sense of humor and discouraged displays of it, so that was a side of him rarely seen while he was alive. Mother was very immature and jealous by nature, and would throw tantrums if Daddy paid me any attention he didn't. But on the Other Side, it was a different story. We cleared up a LOT of misconceptions I had about him growing up.

      I had to laugh at what you said to your grandmother in that first dream, that she couldn't be there because she was "already gone". First time my dad showed up in a dream, I exclaimed "What are you doing here! You're DEAD!". He just laughed and replied "Do I LOOK dead?".

      (Shortly after he died, btw, months before the dream visiting started, he'd awakened me twice in the middle of the night by appearing at the end of my bed. Never appeared to my mother, although she said she'd "sensed" him walking past her in the living room a couple of times.)

      Great hub! Voted up, awesome and beautiful! ;D

    • diogenes profile image


      7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      I wonder if your dreams of gran are so vivid and memorable because she was "taken" from you far too early.

      I often dream of my mother, who died of cancer when she was 61 - a young 61; again, far too early.

      But I hardly remember the dreams as you seem to do.

      Strangely, i rarely dream of other "ships that passed in the night," even the two women I truly loved (still alive).

      We dream for good reasons I am sure.



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