Unsettling Dreams: Grieving In My Sleep

I’ve always had vivid dreams.

That was a problem as a young child because often I couldn’t tell where the dream ended and real life began when I woke.

Many, many nights I’d cry out from my bed, begging my parents to come save me from whatever monster followed me from my dream.

I pretty much grew out of that as I got older and learned to be very careful what I fed my mind-especially right before I fall asleep. I don’t watch horror movies, dark so-called comedies, violent dramas or anything that my brain might twist into scary or disturbing shapes in the dark.

After Dominic left for Heaven, I once again experienced a season of uncomfortable dreaming. Only one or two of my dreams were actually awful, but I would often wake feeling out of sorts, a bit “off” or vaguely aware of something just outside my consciousness that was sure to frighten me if I could see it clearly.

That season passed and only very rarely was I troubled with those kinds of dreams these past few years.

But since my mama joined Dominic, I’ve had at least one disturbing dream every single night.

I can remember some of them-like the one that woke me at two this morning-but not all of them. Even when I can’t recall the exact sequence of events, they all have a similar theme: Someone I love is in peril and I can’t save them or something I hold dear is lost and I can’t find it.

And that awful feeling of helplessness follows me when I open my eyes.

It doesn’t take a PhD to interpret these dreams.

Grief is leaking out in my sleep.

All the feelings I’ve become so good at pushing down during waking hours since Dominic left us are growing stronger again in the wake of my mother’s death.

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The lid my conscious mind keeps screwed on tight is no match for the power of the unconscious.

Off it pops and all the sad, scared, anxious, helpless, longing, fearful emotions stirred up by losing one more soul my heart loves come flying out and swirl around until they create a perfect storm of awful to parade across my mind’s eye while my body tries to rest.

I think I’ve only had one night of more than three hours uninterrupted sleep since the week Mama was hospitalized.

I’m trying all the old tricks of carefully tending what goes into my brain each day. I’m feeding myself healthy and wholesome images and words. I’m ending each day with prayer and asking God to give me sweet dreams or no dreams at all.

I may have to revisit some of those old feelings.

I would rather face my fears in the daylight.

I don’t want them to leak out at night.

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Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

7 thoughts on “Unsettling Dreams: Grieving In My Sleep”

  1. The same thing has been happening to me since my son passed in April; I have asked God to let me see Daniel whole and happy with Him but the only dreams I have are sad and disturbing. I’m like you, all my life I’ve dreamed scary dreams. The dream I had of my son was him being tortured by people; not sure who or why but it was horrible. Thanks for your blog and my God help us. I just lost my Pop last week and my mother isn’t well. It’s too much. Losing a child is the most devastating thing anyone should ever endure. It changed me.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve discussed dreaming with other bereaved parents. Nightmares seem to dominate our nights. For the first two years after Amanda passed, I dreamed of nothing. Which was very strange for me, I always remembered dreaming. After my friend died, I had many sleepless nights with night terrors. I’m back to sleeping ok but many nights are filled with hopelessness. I’m either walking or driving and can’t find my way to where I’m supposed to go. Leaving me hopelessly lost. At least, I don’t dream about watching Amanda die, that happens in the day. Hugs.

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  3. Thank you for sharing. Maybe talking about it will help. I suffered night terrors for a season following Drew’s passing. It helped to talk with someone about those horrors. I’m sorry that you’re going through that; as I lay here trying to fall back sleep I’ll be certain to ask the Lord to keep your mind peaceful. I was thinking about a verse a few minutes ago before I picked up my phone to read my emails. “You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast on you.” And I thought, what kind of peace? PERFECT. I Likely didn’t quote the verse correctly. Don’t know the reference but I know He said PERFECT. PERFECT PEACE. in my mind I thought I needed to share that with my daughter but in my heart I think it’s for you. And me! Grief is such hard work. Nancy

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