One Half Year

A few years ago a friend told me that after she experienced a significant loss, she didn’t dream anymore.  The whole thing stopped, and her nights were simple. She closed her eyes, and slept and woke up and nothing had happened in between. This was sad and worrisome for her, she’d always loved and valued her dreams, and she was worried and frightened that they were gone forever, killed by her sadness.  It wasn’t true, they flickered back into being as she came up from the depths of grief, but I remember thinking that it seemed sad and horrible and impossible. Dreams are… well, they’re part of who you are. How can that go away?

I didn’t realize until I started dreaming again a few weeks ago, that the same thing had happened to me. I woke remembering a dream, and was suddenly aware of the stunning absence of them until now, and realized that I’d been so busy treading water that I hadn’t even noticed that things were so weird. I’ve kept dreaming since that night, and mostly they aren’t awesome yet. Largely I’m having problem solving dreams – dreams of emergencies and things that need fixing… a fire threatens our home and everyone is here for dinner – and I only have one exit to get them safe.  Zombies (more like wraiths, really) are coming and I need to get a door closed quickly with my family on the safe side… or a ship is sinking, and I have to find everyone I love and find life jackets of the right size and get them all to the lifeboats, despite barriers and difficulty. I know. I have a super subtle subconscious.

This last weekend I was in Ottawa trying to be my mother, and I’m glad she doesn’t know why, and that I’m not really good at it, and it’s not super important to the story, so let’s keep going.  On the table next to the bed there was this white noise machine that had all these different settings, and I thought what the hell. I haven’t been sleeping really well anyway, so I cycled through the settings, and one of them was “ocean”.  I thought of my Mum then for a minute, and how she always said that she slept so well when she could hear the sea, and that reminded me of our trips, and I picked it, and lay down. I wonder now if that’s what was responsible for what happened next, or if it was just random.

I was having a dream – because it was a dream I wasn’t really totally aware that it wasn’t real, and it was a dream of a party that I was having for a reason that turned out to be both funny and stupid, and I was standing in the kitchen washing dishes, and laughing and chatting with my mother. She was standing behind me, rocking Elliot, and jollying him along, and we talked about how stupid the party was, and how funny it was that I’d arranged it all, and I told her about a problem I was having, and she gave me advice, and it was completely ordinary. It was me and my Mum in the kitchen doing what we do, and she was her and I was me, and I could hear her voice, and it was her voice, and it was the way she moved, and what she would wear, and the way she smelled. It was her. I was with her.

She even gave me advice about a problem I’m having, and… let’s just pause here, and say that I know it wasn’t her. It was a memory of her,  an idea of her, and I know that I wasn’t visited by my mother in ghost form, and it wasn’t her coming back to guide or help me, and I don’t believe in a great thereafter, and I know perfectly well that any advice she gave me was really just my subconscious trying to do a little problem solving (thanks to the great advice and help she gave me in real life) and I know. I know. I know it was just a dream. Irrelevant and fleeting and not real and a moment and oh… my.

It was amazing. It was everything I have been wanting. I miss her so badly, and I miss her walk, and her talk, and how she moved with that baby in her arms, and I know my mind made her, and that is a relief. It means I remember her enough to conjure her – to accurately bring back all that was her in a way that means I have her.  I haven’t forgotten. I know this is dumb, and nobody forgets their mother, but I worry that she will fade from my mind, and I won’t know how to have back any little bit of her.

In that dream, we were easy with each other, the way we always were, and she told me that way things are, and what I had to do, and we laughed, and towards the end of this little visit, she spoke of the grief of my siblings… how they might feel right now… and something snapped. I realized she was talking plainly and easily about the impact of her own death on our lives, and I turned to face her, crying suddenly as I realized it all, and it was real again, and in a flash it ended.

I woke up crying, the sounds of ocean in the room, though I was far from the sea, and my Mum was still gone.

It was beautiful and terrible, and I am grateful and hurt, and so sad, and briefly happy, which is maybe where you are supposed to be one half year after your mother dies.

mum beach best 2018-02-28

Six months today.  I sure miss you Mum.

225 thoughts on “One Half Year

    • Me, too. It was a great comfort to see her again and so sad when I woke up and she was gone. My mom said the same thing happened when her dad died. <3

    • I lost my mom in 1985 when I was 26 years old and had 3 young children. I felt totally lost and bereft. Yes, I had and still have my loving, understanding husband, but losing your mom is like no other grief.
      You will never forget the love and memories of your mom. I still have those same vivid dreams, where she is right beside me….smell, voice, touch…my mom.

  1. Well, I started crying pretty much from the beginning of your post and haven’t stopped since. Thank you for feeling like this is something you can share with us. Big hugs from a random internet knitter.

  2. I always felt slightly ashamed for wanting to dream of my mom so badly. I’d heard of experiences like yours that offered comfort from the memory. I waited and waited and nothing until, two or three years later? I dreamt we were shopping in a loonie store (Mom was frugal and she would have SO enjoyed loonie stores!). I was so disappointed but that dream was SO her.

    I want you to know I admire how openly your grieving. People treat grief like an illness, that your’e sick and eventually you’ll feel better. I saw my experience a learning to navigate through and live in a world without my sweet Mom. I miss her very much and I treasured those first days, weeks, months after her death knowing that every day her life would move a little farther away from mine.

    Love you Steph! xoxo

  3. It’s hard to find just the right words. I’m so glad for you to have been able to have your mother back with you in your dream, and in such a reassuring way. Earlier this month was the 13th anniversary of my mom’s death. My experience has been that while it does get easier to bear with time, you will always miss her and carry her in your heart.

  4. It has been over eight years since I lost my mother very suddenly, and to this day I still regularly have similar dreams where it is as though she is still with us, talking to me about ordinary things and playing with my children she never had a chance to meet. In these dreams she appears so much more real and crystal clear than in my waking memories, and they make me both terribly sad and happy. The grief will get easier to live with, but it never really goes away.

  5. I haven’t been reading your blog lately, although I did religiously since the beginning, mostly because my own family grief and troubles kept me busy. But I’m so glad I came across this post on Twitter. It was a perfect thing for me to come across at this time in my life and I’m so grateful for you for sharing.

    I had a dear friend many years ago, the mother of one of my friends, who died very tragically. But when she was alive, she told me that sounds crazy, and she was a bit superstitious, (and I’m not a religious person) but it has comforted me in every loss of a loved one I’ve had since then. She said: when you dream of a loved one who has passed, that means their soul is at peace and they have passed comfortably on. That’s why they are able to reach you in your dreams now.

  6. My mother always calls these dreams “visits.” When I have them, which is rarely, my father who has been gone for four years is always laughing at some silly thing I’ve done that I can never remember when I wake up. I’m with you on the hereafter, but sometimes I think about the big energy that was my father. His laugh, his hugs, how he answered the phone in a booming voice as if the person were across a field, and I think, that energy has got to go somewhere. Is it so far a stretch that it might “visit” me once in awhile?

    • Absolutely love this! I believe the answer to your question is a big resounding YES! Thank you for reminding me of my dad. Miss him every single day. Here’s to believing he’s chatting it up with your dad today, having a grand ole time, in that wonderful space where all that beautiful energy ends up at!

  7. Today marks 25 years since my beautiful mom died too young at age 54. I was 32. Every day I miss her. You do learn to cope with the grief you feel. You do go on living the new reality of life without mom. It’s not easy. Somehow, smiles return, laughter comes back, life brings us into it’s circle again. Love of mother for child and child for mother endures forever. I’m grateful for the time I had with my mother. Steph, I’m so glad you have wonderful memories of your mother to sustain you through this time of loss. We never really get over the loss, we just mend our hearts enough to carry on…

  8. I’m so moved by how you write and what you share with us. I don’t know what else to say, but send you thoughts of love and peace.

  9. First time I was diagnosed with breast cancer my sons were 6 and 7. I was so concerned they would forget me. Now 13 yrs later the cancer has returned, the prognosis is hopeful but not positive yet, and my sons have many happy memories of me. I know we will continue to make more moments as a family. Those moments and routines are the structures of our lives.

    Delightful- the leaf for leaf

  10. Thank you for sharing. How lucky you are to have had your mother standing with you and talking with you, even if it was just a dream. I miss my mother very much and have yet to have her in my dreams. Still hoping.

  11. Thank you for sharing, can’t imagine what you are going through. I lost my grandfather over a decade ago, and still miss him terribly all the time (although it’s obviously not the same as a mother). I’ve had some wonderful dreams where he’s next to me and I can hug him and feel the thin cotton of his favorite shirts and his strong bones under his thin frame and his gentle arm around me hugging me back. Heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time.

  12. It’s been 10 years since my dad died and I still dream about him fairly regularly. It’s been long enough now that I’m still a little sad, but mostly I wake up with a smile to have had him there with me just for that little bit. Sending you love and light as you travel this road. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  13. Don’t worry – you will never lose or forget your mom. 40+ years after my mom passed suddenly from a heart attack, I still remember her very clearly and dream of her. Hugs!

  14. My mom died in 1999, but “left” me a few years earlier bc Alzheimers. I wish I could dream of her. I miss her terribly. And I wish I could believe that she knows that DD grew up to be fantastic and that DS, against all the odds, is a loving and nurturing father. Her wisdom and love continue to inspire me as I know your dear Mum’s will remain with you. Thank you for sharing your insights, and may your dreams remain a link to her wisdom.

  15. I was 9 in 1967 when my grandmother passed away after a hard battle with lung cancer. A few months after her death, I had one of those vivid dreams about her. She was wearing her black pedal pushers and white cotton shirt and peeking around the corner of her house, She put her finger to her lips and said, “Shhh. Don’t tell them I’m here. Everything is going to be o.k.”
    Unfortunately it wasn’t. My mother did not handle her death well and had a breakdown from which she never really recovered. I’ve often wondered if things would have been different if I’d shared my dream with her instead of following my grandmother’s request.

    • It may be that much was already going on with your mother that you, at age 9, were not responsible for or fully aware of. You likely could not have solved it for her, but may have been an invaluable support intangibly. Best wishes & warm memories to you.

      • Absolutely: at 9 you did the best you could – and so doubtless did your mother do the best she could.

        Please be as gentle on yourself as you would on any other grieving 9 year old!


  16. Dreams like this are a gift. Our bodies have the ability to give us what we need when we need it. I feel a sense of gratitude when I dream of peace or happiness or some other emotion I really need. I hope the happiness you felt in your dream fills you and sustains you through the sadness.

    I’ve spent the last year reading your blog from start to finish at the recommendation of my knitting retreat peeps. It’s been quite the journey and I enjoy your insight, humor, and knitterly skills. I think my friends recommended you because they looked at me in shock when I asked who is this Elizabeth Zimmermann everyone keeps talking about. I’ve learned about so much more than the knitting arts and appreciate your willingness to continue to open yourself to “The Blog”. I’m happy to be a part of the collective.

    Wishing you the best!

  17. I understand that you don’t share my faith in something beyond this life. However, I wonder if you didn’t just experience a little bit of something I believe in.
    I have not dreamed of either of my parents (18 and 16 years), I was thinking it meant I had left nothing unfinished with them. Hmmm . . . On the other hand, my dad frequently throws coin money in my path and opens my front closet door and my mum is often in the kitchen with me.

    Blessings on you.
    Chris S in Canada

  18. oh,mercy! 21-plus years since my momma succumbed to cancer. I dream of her. More importantly to me, I talk with her just about daily. I ask her advice and I ask for her help. She gives me strength. As I am going through senior/aging processes and try to resist the worst symptoms, my mother is so present in my mind and in my life. It’s like having a “spare” friend who is always on my side. Hang in, darling; it becomes bearable, but never forgettable.

  19. You know when babies are born you initially know how old they are to the day, then after a few months, to the week, by a hear you are counting in months, later still in years and finally in decades?

    I found it works a bit like that for grief. Just like the baby doesn’t get less important as they enter their third decade or at the end of their teens, nor do the people for whom we grieve.

    A couple of years ago I noticed we had passed the date my sister had now been dead for longer than she had been alive. Of the half century since her birth, she had been dead for a quarter century. I don’t reckon it up in days, months, or even years now. I miss her, I wonder how she would have been in her fifties, and wish she were around to delight in the middle aged man who is my brother and think with me about our aging parents and their care. Most of all I believe the world is a poorer place without her contributions to the developing world her which was her work and passion.

    Grief changes, but missing and loving the person for whom you grieve, doesn’t.

  20. 3 years and 6 weeks since my mother died and i still find myself saying “must tell Mum ” … so i do! and i regularly quote some of her favourite sayings.


  21. Soon after my Mom died in 2016 I had a vivid dream – she was sitting on her porch wearing a familiar outfit. In the dream I think I knew she had died. I said to her that she looked so tired. She told me that she was but I needed to let her know how much I needed her around. There were a couple of other dreams in which she appeared but that one has stayed with me and given me a lot of strength through some challenging times since.
    As many others have said, grief changes, it doesn’t go away. A friend reminded me that if my mom and I didn’t have such a close relationship I wouldn’t be feeling the loss and sadness that I did/do.

  22. Thank you for your post, to hear someone talking about grief so openly to those of us on the same road is comforting. My mum died suddenly 4 weeks ago today, on my birthday. I don’t really know how I’m feeling yet, but your words have helped. Sending you much love and strength.

  23. My mum died 36 years ago this month and I am now older than she was when she died suddenly. She has always been with me through dreams and awake. Never forgotten her mannerisms or her words. I never enjoyed an adult relationship with her which I have always felt made her absence easier to bear because I don’t know what I am missing. Over the years there have been moments when I missed her as though she died yesterday. Her guidance and spirit / strength of character remain an inspiration to me and I don’t think that will ever diminish.
    Sharing your feelings takes courage and I admire your openness. May you enjoy many more conversations with your mum.

    • My mother died 49 years ago, she was 45 at the time. I never had an adult relationship with her either and I so wish she were here to see how fantastic her grandchildren are. Really more like her than I ever was. It does get easier, doesn’t it. Her early death gave me strength too. I figured I had already weathered the worst thing ever ( I was 16) so i was not afraid to try anything after that. I have gotten wiser, thankfully, but I still miss her spirit.

  24. The other day marked ten years since my dad passed, and he still shows up in my dreams from time to time. It’s nice, and a little sad, and sometimes weird because my sleeping brain thinks silly things like “maybe he didn’t really die”… But mostly it’s nice to have a chat and “see” him. At first I was disturbed when he showed up in my dreams but I’ve gotten used to it now. It’s funny what our minds can do for us when we are asleep!

  25. Hi Stephanie. I know what you mean. I lost my m9m 1 year and 5 months ago. I dreamed about her3 times and in all of them she looked good and more like herself than she did when she was sick. I don’t know what else to say. Your memories of her will live on in you and your grandkids.and your kids too. Virtual hugs.

  26. I loved your post today, Stephanie. It’s been three years since my mom passed away. I have yet to dream of her. I am glad you had a bit of comfort dreaming about your mum. She sounds like an amazing woman, and what you wrote about her, it made me tear up for your loss, and for my own. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my mom, and how much I miss her.
    The grieving process takes time, and everyone grieves differently. You are such a strong person, Stephanie. Thank you for sharing your grief with us. You’re loved, and I am sending you virtual hugs. Thank you!

  27. That you got the smell right…

    Our beliefs probably would overlap at agreeing that the universe is intricate and surprising beyond what’s sensible. I’m glad your unconscious hosted that party while you’re doing Ottowa-duty — and if my experience is anything to go by, as the grief recedes your mum will settle into being a steady part of your day. Thoughts with you.

  28. Love to you, Stephanie. I hope it is a comfort to you that your mother is in your heart and your mind and that, in some way, she is still with you.

  29. Oh that dream is so special but so heartbreaking. I have written so many comments and then deleted them as they just don’t seem adequate. Sending consoling thoughts your way.

  30. I was told years ago that when you dream of a loved one who has died that it is a sign to you that he/she is okay and at peace. I too, when my parents died within a month of each other, didn’t dream for a while but now have dreams of each of my parents and it is so comforting and healing. I’m so happy you are beginning to have this experience. You are awesome .

  31. June will mark 14 years since I lost my Dad. Every once in a while I hear his voice in dreams, or I catch my youngest (who wasn’t even 2yo when he died) doing something in a way he would do. We never fully realize the impact our parents have on us until they are gone.

  32. Thank you for sharing this poignant story. I miss my mom, too. So very VERY much. She’s still alive at 96 years old, but has alzheimer’s disease. She doesn’t know us kids anymore. A truly horrible condition. I have a problem, actually a huge problem, I am dealing with and I miss her guidance and, most of all, her wonderful listening ear. The other morning I just sat at my kitchen table, crying with my head in my hands, missing her support so painfully. If only I could just call her and tell her what’s going on, she would listen and tell me exactly what would help. She would also say “oh poo, you’re fine. This will all get solved in time and you’ll get past this. Find something to do today to take your mind off all this.” I’d give a million dollars to have her easy and dependable counsel again.

    Losing mothers is a tremendous loss. You said it well.

    • Blessings, peace and strength to you. I was spared the pain you have as my mum died before the Alzheimer’s got that bad. It is a truly horrible disease because it takes away almost everything that is meaningful – it takes away the person you love and leaves a shell.

      I pray your memories will be enough to hold you up.
      Chris S in Canada

  33. You won’t ever forget the look or feel of her. My mom died 38 years ago and I still remember. I had one of those dreams a few months after her death. It’s still vivid but not in a creepy way. She walked into the room and touched my cheek and smiled her smile. That’s all but I knew everything would be ok. I love that I had that dream

  34. In the first six weeks after my father passed, I had several dreams where he told me additional things that I needed to know. (My subconscious reminding me of things he’d said and I’d forgotten? “Visits” from Dad? Who knows.) I remember waking with incredible peace and being well-rested, then I’d recall the dream and cry with missing him. But, I never woke crying.

  35. Thank you for sharing. I too sometimes have vivid dreams of my first husband, he died in 1993. They are confusing dreams as in my dream I realize I am remarried and so much time has passed since. And at the same time tremendously happy to see him and eager to tell him about his children and granddaughter.

  36. Your mom is always with you, whether in mind, spirit or dreams. July 4 this year will mark 20 years since my mother died (wow, it physically hurt to type that) but I am very aware of her spirit. Though our belief systems are very different (each must find their own way) I know that we both still feel our mom’s love because it is ingrained in us. The proliferation of love that she gave us in life, remains after she is gone from this one. Love and light to you, dear Stephanie.

  37. You may not yet be ready to believe this, or maybe never will, but there is evidence that in sleep our spirits are able to leave our corporal selves and connect with other spirits temporarily. I am a very pragmatic, skeptical person normally, but since my own mother’s death, an acquaintance of mine through work let me know that she has some psychic abilities that she only uses with friends and family and has never charged anyone for, and offered to see if she could connect me to my mother. That was about 8 years ago, and she has channeled my mother for me and several of my girlfriend’s departed loved ones. I can even talk freely with my mother through this lady, and it is a beautiful thing. She never knew nor met my mother, and yet her mannerisms, personality and speech patterns are brought back to me through her. So comforting. Since then, I have been brave enough to share my stories with some others and found a world of people out there, all of us not talking about it too much because of being thought “strange”, but also having expeiriences or being psychic themselves!

  38. I had something similar happen with my Dad when he passed over 20 years ago. In the dream I turned a corner and he was there, dressed normally, in a chair, just casually hanging out. Most importantly looking like he did before he was ill. I asked him what he was doing there and he said “hey. I’m fine. I’m happy and I’m fine. You go be happy too.”

    I had no idea how much I needed to hear that.

    It’s amazing how these things come to us when we need them. Is there a hereafter and it was a visit? Was it my subconscious? I have no idea. I don’t care. All I know is he’s fine and he’s happy and I should go be happy too. I’ll never forget it.

    Hang in there Stephanie. It gets easier.

  39. And now I’m crying at work. Oh Steph, love and hugs and healing to you! I’m lucky enough to still have both my parents but I can’t imagine what I’ll do when I don’t. I suffered a traumatic loss almost 10 years ago and to this day it still hurts when I think too much about it. Someone once told me that “grief is love with no place to go” and that just really resonated with me. We don’t get over them, we just learn to live life without them.

  40. I’m so glad you have The Blog to share your thoughts with. Sometimes it helps a lot to know there are people who care and who may know, at least a little, of what you’re going through. This reminds me a lot of when I lost my daughter almost 2 years ago. It still makes me sad to think about and talk about, but it’s…easier than it was. I don’t think we really ever “get over” a loss, but we learn how to live with it.

  41. 2.5 years later and I’m still not there. I miss her and my dad (less than 1 year) every waking moment. They never met my son (adoptive, recent) but i hear them in my worries (“breathe, Katie… just breathe”) and my decisions (“it’s okay to let him play another 1/2 hour… he’s only 5 once”) and my parenting (“hmm… not sure how you can be wrong if you are just loving him and trying your best.”). The loss of my parents still feels very real, very raw, and very immediate. My husband says that when i’m having a quiet cuppa tea in the kitchen, and he tells our son to not bother me, that i’m “having tea with my mom and nana.” and he’s right. a little fadeaway moment where i’m remembering.

  42. When our Dad died, suddenly and unexpectedly, we were like lost puppies. His laughter, his parody songs to classical pieces in the early morning, his gentle nature – all missing. I wondered if he was okay, if he’d made it wherever he was supposed to be. One night I dreamt I got on the bus heading to town. There in the front seat was my Dad, sitting with his hands crossed in his lap, smiling at me. He didn’t say anything, and for some reason I knew I shouldn’t speak to him and walked on and found a seat. When I got off the bus – he was gone. I always thought that was his way of letting me know he was okay.

  43. Wow, after a deep loss in my family, I didn’t dream for three months. It was fade to black and then the next morning came. It was so jarring on top of everything that was happening, and I didn’t realize until now that other people have experienced the same thing. Thank you for sharing, Steph.

  44. 10+ years since my Mom died. Because of her injuries, she could not speak for the last six weeks of her life. When I dream of her now, it’s her touch — her hand on my brow, or holding my hand. I hope I’ll hear her voice again.
    Hugs to you, Stephanie … x

  45. I’ve had the “no dream” thing too — after my ex-husband I and split I just went from night time to morning with a deep intense blackness — nothing. This went on for maybe even 2 years and I was relieved when the dreams came back. It took me a while to even figure it out. Odd isn’t it?

  46. I started crying the minute I started reading, because I knew what you were going to say. I have had the same type of dream about my Dad, whom I was very close to. Over the years the dream comes to me and I can hear him calling my name and I am so elated that I was wrong, he is still alive, and I have found him. Then it goes away in an instant and I wake up crying, realizing it was just a dream. But to hear his voice is worth it all, and I wish I could have that dream every night. The hurt subsides somehow and life goes on, and I try to take joy from children and grandchildren in the here and now. Thank you for sharing your feeling. It means so much.

  47. You are amazing to share this with us . You are also generous and sweet and so wise in the way you write. Thank you for giving so much of yourself and being a candle in the window of a dark night for some of us, even when you need a candle yourself.

  48. I know dreams are telling etc. But in my culture if your mother or grandmother come to you in your dreams then they are visiting you. Even if the dream is inconsequential or just dumb but its the fact they are stopping by to say hey you!.
    Just a thought at least that’s how my grandma said it to me when she remarked on when she lost her husband and mom.

  49. Thank you. Thank you for sharing so candidly and honestly about the grieving you are going through. You will never see or know how many people it helps. Thank you.

  50. I don’t often have dreams of my mom, but sometimes I do, and they are wonderful. But I am always sad, and sometimes puzzled when I wake up and I realize it didn’t happen. Cherish the memories you have within you.

  51. Thank you for sharing. I have experienced something so similar, I’m sure anyone who has lost a loved one has in some form, but your description was tangible deep in my chest.

    Love and light to you, friend.

  52. You need to add a little “grab a tissue” alert to the front of this post, Stephanie.
    Such a lovely dream. I hadn’t thought about the lack of dreams during grief, either. Very interesting.
    I also find that type of dream such a comfort. One of my dearest friends died of cancer (way too young, of course) 18+ years ago and, although I saw her almost daily until she died, I felt like I hadn’t let her know how much I loved her. Then I dreamed about it – very much like you and your mom – and she said: I knew. And I was so relieved. And . . . more tears.
    Wishing you comfort and peace, always.

  53. What a beautiful thing. So glad you shared.

    15 years ago I had a very similar powerful dream of a recently departed loved one and it still comforts me to this day.

  54. In order to “remember” a dream, you have to wait at a specific point…or it just slides on through your subconsciousness without being noted.

    I like the respondee who talked about “dream visits”. My grandfather died my first semester at college and, six years later, I moved in with my grandmother to finally finish my degree. My grandmother would have regular dream visits with her husband. They went out to dinner and a dance. She was always very animated the day after these “dream visits”.

    The other dream in my family is shortly before your visit, when a loved one comes to take you to the other side (not that I think that is why your Mom came to visit). The night before my grandmother died, she dreamed of her mother inviting her to go for a walk. She told my mother of this dream when my Mom got to the hospital that morning…and it was the last conscious thought she shared.

    Enjoy your dream visits. Not everything in life has a rational explanation.

  55. Steph: Thank you for sharing a most intimate moment. (I’ve been blessed with a few with my grandmom, who’s now gone 48 years and cherish every one).
    Although we may have different beliefs, you’ve said you were in Ottawa trying to be Mum. She knows that, and she knows your grief, and she knows what you need. She was there when you needed, and were ready, to see her. Isn’t that the ultimate expression of love?
    Sending healing thoughts and prayers to you and yours for time and peace. (Touch the cloud; how appropriate.) Bonnie aka Knitsiam

  56. Oh Stephanie. (Wanting to throw my arms around you.) Thank you. And I am so sorry.

    I finally found the right person at the airline last night who, unlike the earlier guy, was willing to waive the $250 charge to change our flights: we were not going to go to help take care of my father-in-law. As I told them two months ago to give them lots of time to rebook it, but I found out yesterday that somehow the guy on the phone didn’t cancel it after all, he’s gone now….

  57. I’ve been reading your blog for a decade but don’t really comment much but this entry really touched my heart and I just really wanted to tell you that. My mom is 76 and my grandma would have been 100 last year except for the fact that she died 10 years ago and I just can’t believe how much I miss her, and how much I value these same glimpses of her. I know some day I will face the loss of my mom, who I talk to every single day, usually multiple times per day, and I just can’t even imagine that suddenly ending. I’m sorry; I’m not sure where I’m going with this except to say I’m sorry for your loss and I’m so glad that you got a little time with her in your dreams.

  58. You are blessed that your mind conjures such a wonderful moment for you with your mom. Many of us experience the exact opposite in our lives and in our dreams, and I’m so happy for you (with tears in my eyes, of course).

    Love and light.

  59. Your sharing to the Blog your grief journey is so truthful and courageous. Thank you. I expect your healing has helped others heal. Bear hugs.

  60. Thank you for this beautiful post. I still get dreams just like this of my mother in law, who was a fan of yours and got me started reading your blog years ago and was just so, so very dear to me. She’s been gone for 10 years now, but she still comes to me dreams like this and plays with my 18mo old daughter, shares a pot of tea, or talks knitting (or the weather, or whatever silly thing it is that we visit about. None of it matters except for the feeling of being together again). Anyways, thank you so much for the writing that you’ve been so generously sharing. It has been a gift to me.

  61. I don’t like the sound of why you are in Ottawa. I lost a sister when she was 48 and felt it would have broken my mother’s heart. Mom had already died too young. When I am struggling and life is sad and difficult I talk to my Mom and my Granny even though I don’t believe in life afterwards. When I talk to my Mom and Granny I am calling on the strength and gentleness they left in me.
    We all have had such sadness.

  62. I found it hard to return to hospitals for a long while after my dad died, and it sounds like you are spending a fair amount of time in them. I’m sorry.

  63. I lost my dad 23 years ago yesterday (and my mom three years ago, my sister 10 years ago), and it still hurts. Not as much though, so I can tell you that the grief and pain does ease…eventually. Conjure her any way you can, as much as you can, as long as you can. Treasure everything you can about her, to keep the memories fresh.

  64. We lost our daughter, stillborn, in April’87. Imagine…she is 30. She is/was invisible, maybe non- existent, to many.
    I have several odd and dreamy stories around this loss, and others – there are several big losses that followed her, and all losses shaped our family.
    I just want to say I think of that “invisible” little one every day. And that’s okay.
    Grief was a heavy weight to be worn…and in time, it became more woven in, part of the fabric. It has its own schedule, and grief does funny things with time, a year can seem both like forever, or like the blink of an eye. Don’t let anyone rob you of that time.

  65. I’m tearing up as I read this for a few reasons. I have experienced the same kind of dreams where you are with a loved one who has passed away and they are so precious. This past fall my grandfather passed away, he was pretty much my most favourite person in the world. Him and I had a special bond and I miss him dearly. I’m so happy that I had him in my life for 40 years and my kids were able to know him and love him. I want to thank you for sharing your journey through grief because I know my mom is hurting and she has been forever changed after losing her father. Reading your blog posts about your experiences has given me a little insight into what my mother may be going through. Our entire family is feeling a little lost and my mom just isn’t the same. I know its impossible to go back, we feel like a part of her died with him and it probably did. She lived a street away from him and talked to him every morning at 9am. She was there for him every day, through good days and tough days. I know she needs time to reflect, grieve and eventually heal. I hope that once she is ready, she will be there to experience things with my boys and my sisters little guy, so they will have the fond memories of their grandparents, as I have of mine.
    Thank you for being so open and sharing with us.

  66. Thank you for sharing your dream. As others before me said, treasure those dreams and memories, and the words she would have said to you to help you find your way.
    It has been 30 years since my mother passed away. The first year afterward, I had really bad recurring dreams. It got so I dreaded going to sleep at night.
    I know I had dreams of her later on where the grief seemed unbearable. But ultimately they brought me peace. I wish I still dreamed of her. I still think of her daily.
    My best to you and go easy on yourself.

  67. What a gift! You don’t need mine or anyone else’s interpretation….just cherish this gift of presence and reassurance.

  68. Familiar, this. My ones are of my husband. In the early days after his death, they were just brief snippets of him that I tried to hang onto but they misted away. As the months and years passed, they became little adventures we’d have together, all feeling very ordinary, with a couple of them being repeating dreams. I got to enjoy them very much and be happy and thankful when I woke up. The milestone dates are the hard ones. The dreams seem to be separate little markers of their own, illustrations of where you are now, deep inside. Grief is such a bizarre process. It scrapes us hollow, but also excavates new pieces of our being, and illuminates ones we may have never noticed. You’re doing fine.

  69. Dear Stephanie, I think what you experienced was a ‘visit’ by your beloved Mum as her way of letting you know that it’s all ok, and that you’re doing really well to think of all the normal things and silly parties and playing with babies.

    My theory is that I had a similar ‘visit’ from my own mom about a year after she died. She looked me straight in the eye and said that everything was ok and that I was ok. I didn’t mention this ‘visit’ to anyone, even though I woke up in tears next to my partner, who was completely oblivious.

    Some years later I was talking with a friend who had lost her son in an accident. The son had paid a ‘visit’ to his brother that day, and my friend was somewhat shaken up by the experience. I burst into tears, understanding what had happened, and told my own story. I’ve now heard about one other such occurrence among my circle of friends.

    My current theory is this: that the deceased pays just one ‘visit’ to someone they were particularly close to, and the message is essentially the same, that they are ok and that it’s ok for the living to keep on living. I never hear of the deceased visiting any additional people, even in close families/relationships. We may continue to dream about the people who have passed away, and even interact with them in the dreams, but there is something special in the one ‘visit’. I dream about my Dad all the time, but he’s never ‘visited’ me in that way. My Mom hasn’t come back in the same way again either, even though my experience was just a hair short of ‘real’. I knew I was dreaming, and yet, I wasn’t. The subconsciousness is an interesting place.

    Based on the posts you written these past months it sounds like you’re working through things in your own time and way, and that’s as it should be. I know you miss your dear mum acutely, and there will be more times that the memories will make you smile rather than tear up. And the happy times will be more and more frequent and last a long, long time.

    Sending a hug to you and your family.

  70. I lost my father 4 years ago, and my mother two years ago when she remarried and left. Both situations are painful; when she dies I don’t think I’ll feel any different. I read all the above posts and I don’t understand these things very well. The thing I know is that we survive and keep going and have new experiences, and all the while our good memories are there too.

  71. It’s OK, Steph. The apparent lack of dreams for a while was due to stress. You’ve been through a lot, good and bad, during the past year. I’m guessing things are a little bit calmer right now, so you’re remembering your dreams again. The sound machine may have helped trigger that.

    As for your mom appearing in your dream, that’s a good sign. You’ll never forget her, and any dreams with her will probably get more enjoyable over time. Just the other night, I had a very entertaining dream that included my mom and her dog, both of whom passed away decades ago. I think you’ll get to that point, too.

    In the meantime, snuggle Joe. Hug The Ladies, Hank, Luis, Ken, your sister, etc. Play with Elliot and his canine friend. You’re getting there.

  72. I know. My husband died over six years ago and my parents long before. I often have dreams about them doing everyday things and it is amazingly comforting.

  73. This post made my heart ache. Ache for you Steph… and ache for how I will feel when I’m grieving too.
    Right now, it is the worst snow we have had in the UK for some years (nothing like Canadian weather but bad for here) and I want to go to my Mum. To hug her, talk to her and kiss her goodnight.
    I’ll settle for sending a message, and get that hug the next time I see her x

  74. My mother died in September (it was not a surprise, although she was quite young), and for weeks I dreamed less and less realistic versions of her death. Then the dreams switched—I knew she was dead, and she knew she was dead, but it didn’t make any difference. In my favorite of them, we were just sitting in a restaurant booth. Our brains are complicated machines.

  75. I lost my mom tragically,, it will be 35 years ago this year. 10 days after my Birthday, which always seems to make it bittersweet. And it is the same for me. I hardly every dream, or if I do, remember them. Seems that what I do remember, if at all, are the odd/nightmare/ but not a nightmare ones.

    And the oddest thing is out of nowhere,, at weird times, I smell flowers. Where there should not be flowers smelled. I take heart in that.

    Thinking of you! It does get better, if not easier.

  76. I don’t have the right words and never really feel like I do, but I do know that this is going into my box of Stephanie posts that I come back to and read over and over. Thank you. You do always seem to have the right words.

  77. Two months ago was the 7 yr. anniversary of my mom’s death. She enters my mind often, especially when I’m knitting or cooking. I believe your mom is reaching out to touch your heart. Please don’t dismiss it.

  78. Your post brought me to tears and reminded me so much of my own mother who I lost almost 18 years ago. Six months after her death, I was talking to someone about her and I burst into tears. I thought that I was getting over the loss, but now I know you never really get over it. Mothers and daughters have a special bond.

  79. Oh that was a stab to the heart! I know those dreams. The ones where everything is so clear and so real. However, I do believe in an eternal hereafter. And I do believe the soul lasts forever and can visit us at opportune moments. But whatever belief system we follow, we can still cherish those moments.

  80. My mom has been gone 3 years this March 15. Life is busy and full and I don’t often think of my loss as I am busy caring for Dad. But, I often dream of her just doing ordinary things that she always did. It feels right and normal in the dream. When I wake, I feel her absence like a palpable thing. I cherish those dreams.

  81. Some days, six years later, I wake with the sound of my mother’s belly laugh ringing in my ears.
    Oh, could she ever laugh.
    She’d snort and wheeze and cry and flap her hands helplessly in the air and, just when you thought maybe the storm had passed, she’d look you in the eye and there she’d go again.
    I miss my mom too.

    • Oh how could anyone not miss a mum like yours? One who could commit to laughter! I’ll bet she had a great giggle too.
      Blessings to you
      Chris S in Canada

  82. Dumbledore: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

  83. So many thoughts, and so many others have already said. I was in tears this morning reading your words and just now have time to respond. Your sharing is epic, Stephanie. Your warmth and caring, for your family, for the blog, for the bigger world. You’re just a fine human, and so many of us out here love you madly for sharing so much of yourself, for your kindness and compassion.

    As is clear from so many comments, the experience of grief is universal, though our beliefs and the particulars are more individual.

    I’ve always found dreams like the ones you report such wonderful gifts, from wherever and however they come. Dreams are one of those things that seem fundamentally mysterious, and rightly so. If we understood more they might not be as powerful. They connect things that don’t quite connect in waking life.

    I’ve been disabled for a number of years now, and miss walking, dancing, so much about movement. On a few beautiful occasions, my disabilities have vanished for the span of a dream, and I walked, ran, danced. It’s always been beautiful, and I awake and come back to regular reality with a sense of devastation, but also with an unanticipated joy and profound gratitude. Sometimes I know that I’m dreaming; other times it’s just life as usual, as it was before.

    So glad you had that time with your mum, that it comforted you, and that you shared it with us. My thanks also to others who have shared their pains and joys. I’m crying again, but that’s a good thing.

  84. It has been almost 21 years and I still sometimes dream of my mother. The dreams are sometimes wonderful and sometimes problematic, as I try to reconcile her being here in a world where my dad has remarried. But she’s there with her snappy wit and her snow white hair and she still loves me as much as she ever did.

    If I could, even with the confused emotions, I would dream of my mom every night.

  85. I had dreams like that about my mother after she died. They were infrequent but they were a gift.I would wake up feeling that I had actually spent time with her again. I never analyzed how that experience came to be but I treasured being with her for a few minutes

  86. I’m with Dumbledore:). I lost my Mom at just shy of 9. I would have loved to have as much time with her. She’s appeared in dreams not just to me but to my daughter and granddaughter who never met her. But the sadness will always be part of me. It’s only because she mattered so much.
    Be well. Peace and hugs

  87. That was one of the most beautiful yet heart wrenching blogs you have ever written. Thank you so much for sharing. You are a very strong woman as apparently was your mother. I don’t know that it will get easier, it hasn’t for me, just different. I just know that I never want to forget loved ones and friends I have lost.

  88. That was beautifully written and so heartfelt. I lost my mother just before I turned 30. I understand what you are going through – it is very tough. I am also interested in dreams, and have found that dreaming about the person I lost shows that I have in some way acknowledged that they are gone. I have come to enjoy those dreams and find them comforting. We keep my mom (and now my dad) alive by talking about them and remembering funny things that happened when they were with us. It does get easier, but it takes time. You can’t rush the process. You are lucky to have a lovely family to support you while you are grieving.

  89. Ah yes. It’s been just over a year with my dad. And I don’t want the pain to end, because then I’ll just be farther away from him. I can’t seem to stop it though; every healthy step forward is just one more step away. I can see why people go mad with grief; “getting over/through it” is the second heartbreak.

  90. It was 2 years on the 28th for my dad. Funny how I thought I was the only one who wasn’t dreaming. I still haven’t begun. Some days are raw and some days I feel a little guilty because I haven’t thought of him. Boy grief is hard work. Happy for you and your lovely dream.

  91. I know you don’t believe in the after life but from someone who does-it is believed that when we have dreams like this about people we have lost it’s their way of visiting us. I think that sounds so nice. I lost two of my grandparents (my maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather) with in months of each other. I’ve had dreams about both of them where they knew that they had passed and they wanted me to see that they were ok on the other side. It felt so great to see them well and as I remembered them.

  92. Your dream brought you a great step forward. You are still sad. she is still there and you have NO idea how lucky you are in one way. You know and remember your dreams. I know I have to dream, I’d be nuts otherwise, but I don’t remember them I never have. Hold on to your dream and you’ll hold on to your mum!

  93. I have had my own version of your dream. The first time was over 40 years ago. I can still feel it like it was yesterday.

    It really is a human experience. I am so sorry for your loss. We have shared this experience. Words almost fail to describe it, but you have done a very good job. Thank you for sharing your journey with us here.

  94. I’m saving this for my daughter, with tears in my eyes. You see, her husband, all 33 healthy happy years of him, died in his sleep Saturday night. All of these feelings and emotions are swirling about as we plan, arrange and give the kids (3-1/2 boy and 11 month girl) all the attention they need and deserve. It’s tough. I’m hoping there will be a bright, dreaming spot in the future.

    • Hugs to you all and to Steph. My husband had a stroke during the night in 2001 and I awoke to a shell of him that I would lose 4 days later. Brightness and light will return one day-be thankful for those babies. They will be a huge help in getting you thru this.

  95. I’d had a troubled relationship with my Father before he died and, for a long time afterwards, (many, many years) I would refuse him access to my dreams. However, after my mother died and I dream of her, he is always with her. I am waiting for the dream in which I can fully accept that he was who he was and that he is a part of who I am.

  96. Yesterday 10 years ago my mother died. I wrote an e-mail to my siblings and every single one of us had had this moment of pause remembering that night, when we all came home knowing it was her time. It still feels sad and right at the same time, we gave her to eternity as a loved and loving person.
    So this will remain an integral part of your and my life, this memory and deeply ingrained part, where a person once sat. Even after all this time I still sometimes think I have to tell mum, and then – well – I can’t.

  97. I have experienced the same dreaming about a loved one, losing a brother in an accident 14 years ago. The first few times, he didn’t say anything. In later ones I could see and talk to him and the conversations made sense for the most part. Lately (and very infrequently now) the dreams are more disjointed and weren’t connected so much to reality. Upon waking, there is a sense of peace, that we were still close and connected in some way…and I always look forward to his next visit to my dreams. Enjoy the time you have with your mom in those dreams, they are a special gift.

  98. As others have commented above, thank you so much for this post. Your words will definitely help others.
    Fresh snow this morning! Pretty but not good for cycling.
    Knit on! with good coffee.

  99. Thank you so much for sharing. My mom is alive at 89 and changing in lots of ways. But when I leave work this afternoon, I will swing by her house and enjoy her, idiosyncrasies and all. Neither one of us is promised a later.

  100. Your mom was visiting you in your dream. I have often had dreams with loved ones that have passed away, they have come for a quick visit to let me know all is well with them and things will be fine with me with time. Dreams with our ones that have passed are a good thing, they are checking on us and letting us know all is well with them and us. Keep dreaming.

  101. I think I would give one of my pinkie fingers for that kind of relationship with my mother who is still alive. My peace and healing did eventually come from realizing and realizing anew almost daily daily that my mother is not really capable of that kind of intimacy. You are sooo lucky to have had that love and connection with a parent. My mother did set me on a spiritual path of healing my split with her, tho so in that way she gives me something and has connected me the pain of others who have similar losses.

  102. I know just what you mean. Five years on, I am surprised and grateful at how fully formed my mother remains in my memories and my dreams.

  103. How rich you are to have had a mother worthy of such precious memories. Shedding sweet tears with you.

  104. I don’t know if you have ever heard this quote before Stephanie; however, it has helped me to understand the role and space grief has in our lives so I wanted to share it with you.

    “Grief is the price we pay for love.”

    My own mother will have been gone for 26 years this July. Last year was the first year she appeared in a dream and was her usual self. She would only come very rarely before that and was in denial about her death. (She committed suicide when I was 18, it was incredibly frustrating to dream about her so rarely and then to have her pretend to have faked her death… seriously. Still giving me fits lol. That’s okay, I am sure I still do too if she checks in now and again.)

    For me, there is a well of emotion central to my being and grief is the tool that digs that well deeper. No one can do the digging for you and I don’t envy you the work that lies ahead.

    It does make more room for love though, because your well is so much deeper, it can hold oh so much more than you thought possible. I also find that it sharpens my experiences and I do not take this precious life we have for granted. It makes gratitude sweeter and kindness ever more important. She is still teaching me lessons even though she is gone. <3

    Take care. Be extra kind to yourself. Those first ten years are hard ones.

  105. A couple of years ago, at Madrona, you told a story about your mom that changed my life. You said she felt strongly about teaching you, when you were young, to solve your own problems; you called her after you locked yourself out of the house and it was snowing. “How terrible,” she said, “what are you going to do?” You said she would offer sympathy but no solution; you had to solve the problem.

    It changed the way I parent and how I deal with several close relatives who are adults but expect me to rescue them from the results of their actions. Thank you.

  106. Someday, in the hopefully distant future, I hope to remember this when my mum dies. A long time from now.

    I feel so privileged to be part of this Blog. Big hugs to you!

  107. Crying. It’s actually not dumb at all, it’s beautiful & wondrrful that you have such clear & positive memories of your mother. I am sad to share that not everyone is in fact able to recall all they would like–my own mother was sweet and easy and happy until siddenly she wasn’t. Until suddenly she was depressed and fearful and absent. I was only 12 when it started, this depression that has consumed her last 24 years of life, so though she lives still in many ways she is already gone, & I so wish I could bring back who she used to be before at will. But I was young, and unfortunately other more recent memories have somewhat replaced the mother I wish I still had. So hold onto your mother in memory, and continue to be glad that you can. Much love. I know it is hard.

  108. This is a lovely post. I wanted to add my reassurance, as others have here, that the dreams often continue…sporadically, but when they seem most needed. My mom died 14 years ago, when I was 32 and I had a 5 year old and a 2 year old, and whenever I seem to notice that I am forgetting things, like the sound of her voice, I will dream something mundane (one time it was shopping at the dollar store!) that helps me feel connected to her again, and it is such a gift.

  109. I totally agree with all of that, your perceptions and the meaningfulness of it all. I say, the dead aren’t dead, they live on, hopefully, in us, in the people they’ve touched, and that’s a good thing (as good as the people were good.)

  110. I’m going to quote Dumbledore: “Just because it’s all in your mind, why would you think it isn’t real?”

    My mom gave me sound advice, tart replies, and serious admonishments, long after she passed away. Sometimes it was NOT what I wanted to hear. Not a ghost, not a vision, not a dream. I’ve long since ceased trying to explain it; but your description of your dream struck a chord. I think these things are much more common that we think because people don’t talk about them, or fear them, or fear ridicule. It’s a lovely experience, and it will probably happen again, and I think that such things are meant to be wondered at, and treasured. No explanations needed.

  111. My Dad went first. Three days after he passed, I dreamed that I answered the phone and it was Dad. I was so excited to hear from him and was asking all these questions about where he was and what it was like, when he interrupted me and simply said, “I have something important to tell you. It’s about Mother.”

    And then I woke up. Confused, but, that was typical of Dad, short and to the point. Oh, well, at least he visited.

    Four weeks later, Mother was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. She passed inside of four months later. When the doctor came with the news, I wasn’t surprised. I already knew because with those three little words, Dad had told me something was wrong.

    For that first year or so after losing them both, I went to sleep crying and I woke up crying. Every day. For all I know, I cried in my sleep all night. Then it stopped.

    Also, I dreamed about them CONSTANTLY. Being who I am, I’m not convinced those were dreams, because I do believe the essence or energy that was “us” continues in another form. Not a heaven like in the Bible, but just energy. Something of us is eternal.

    My dreams were and still are a lot like you’ve described. They’re ordinary. It’s my parents and me in our house, in the living room on the couch, with Dad in his chair, and them helping me solve problems. Warning me about things. Just having a general, boring chat. Dad was his typical wise man-of-few-words self, and Mother was her exasperated, critical, frustrating self.

    These dreams were nearly daily at first. After a few years, my dreams returned to being the bizarro world they usually are, and the Visits With Parents became more infrequent. Every now and then I’ll have one, but they’ve become more “weird” and less like “real”.

    Maybe it’s my mind, after almost 12 years, finally having adjusted to the grief and the loss, having gotten over the panic about forgetting them. Maybe my mind knows they’re permanently imprinted, and if they get fuzzy, a glance at a photo will flood it all back.

    Or, maybe *they’re* moving on. Moving away from this reality, detaching from their existence as “Them” in this time on this plane. Maybe they’re ready to let go and become whatever is next. Maybe they couldn’t do that, until I was ready to let them.

    Maybe they know I’m ready to let go. Even if I don’t know it yet. But I’m no longer afraid of this. I know it’s OK, and that they’ll stay imprinted on my psyche until it’s my turn.

    For now, enjoy every minute with her in your dreams. I fully believe she really is “there”, even if you don’t. 🙂 Whatever this phenomena is, it brings us healing amidst our grief, and eventually it leads us to peace.

  112. My mum and I used to joke that if there was any afterlife for her, a heaven of sorts, it would be New Mexico, where she had once gone for an idyllic pottery retreat back in the 70s. The night she died, I dreamt she called me. “Where are you?” I asked. “New Mexico,” she answered, “And it’s so warm and dry here.” (Man, did she hate Montreal’s humid summers.) This dream has sustained me for years now; like you, I don’t believe in a *real* afterlife — but I was then and remain so grateful now for dreams in which she appears to me. My beloved stepmother says she has never stopped speaking her mum, and dreaming of her, for 40 years now. She says it’s just another form of visit. Much love to you, this first hard year. It never goes away but it does get easier to bear.

  113. Wow. So very timely, Stephanie. Thank you.
    I dream about my mom on a regular basis – she figures in my dreams more than anyone ever has, including my husband and son. She has been gone from my life for over 20 years now, by her choice (long story, not anything I or my siblings did to alienate her) and I still miss her. When I dream of her it is totally normal and there is no indication that she is gone or it’s unusual that she’s actually there.
    It never occurred to be before that the dreams are part of the grief process, or my mind/heart trying to let her go, but in reality it is a constant grief. She wasn’t there for my wedding, or those of my brother and sister. She has three amazing grandchildren she has never known, and they will likely never know her – which makes me sad because she’d have been a wonderful grandma.
    Today is her birthday and it is hitting me especially hard, for some reason – probably because I’ve been thinking lately about how I’m the same age she was, and my son is the same age my brother was, when she left. So thank you for putting words to my feelings. You are incredible, as always.

  114. I am now several years older than my mother was when she passed away. I think of her a lot, and the older I get the more I marvel at the kind of life she made for my sister and I, a life out of not very much, they were so poor. How did she do it? Thanks for sharing, it’s very helpful.

  115. Thank you for being willing to share and being so honest Steph. I lost my mum a couple of years ago and I’m still processing. Big hugs to you.

  116. I had a similar sort of dream about my Dad. I don’t exactly remember the timing but I think it may have been about six months or so after he passed away. Without going into detail, he said something in the dream that led me to put aside some resentment I’d had towards one of my sisters and to consciously improve our relationship. Like you, I don’t believe that my Dad was really there but his presence in my dream had a tremendous impact on me. It will be three years this June that he passed away. I can tell you that it gets easier but it’s still not easy. I don’t think you can really understand what it means to lose a parent until it happens to you. Take care and treasure all of the lovely memories–we’re lucky to have them even if the one that we love is gone.

  117. If you hadn’t loved her as much as you did, you wouldn’t miss her like you do. It’s OK to be sad, and it’s OK to feel like this even years later. It’s how we know we’re alive, that we can feel love and pain and that we can share that love with those who are around us now. And as for the rest of it – love is just energy and why shouldn’t that stay with us forever? Sometimes, our dreams are the only time that our rational, non-believing minds will be quiet enough to let that love come back in a form that comforts us. One day we will all know the answer to the “is there anything on the other side?” question but whilst we’re here, I’m firmly in the “believe what makes you feel better” camp. After all, nobody can equivocally prove you right or wrong either way xx

  118. I don’t think I stopped dreaming when my dad died. I had a dream about him a few days after he died and 7 years later I still have dreams in which my dad is there. They are perfectly normal dreams where we chat or we’re sat in the car and it’s not weird that he’s there at all. It’s nice to understand that he isn’t completely gone yet, and never will be while I still remember him.

  119. I lost my mom to cancer just over a month and a half ago. I would love to stop dreaming – in my dreams, I always have to explain to my mom that she’s dead, and then I wake up having to relive her death. I’ve barely slept since she’s passed as a result. But this post gives me some hope that one day that will change, even though I know I’ll never stop missing her.

  120. Your writing about your mum and your experience with grief is so beautiful and honest and wise. It expresses the path through loss so keenly and brings me to tears every time. I hope someday you might consider collecting all of these posts in book form. It would be wonderful to be able to revisit them. My mum is still with me… but she is aging, and I know someday in the not so distant future I will have to walk this path as well. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us.

  121. Stephanie, We are traveling the same pathway (my mother died in September). It is such a comfort to read your entries cataloging the same process and similar feelings. Mom jokingly told me she would “hover” over me after she was gone. I’d give her the stink eye and reply “you may hover, just don’t haunt”. Grief is a fiercesome process.

  122. My mom’s been gone 14 years now…but I see her in my children’s faces (their smiles, especially) regularly…and in the way my daughter is built (same height and long lean body as a young woman) and stands.

    Mom died at almost-88 and would be 102 this year…in June…but was ill for most of her last year, and though I miss it, she is not the person I keen after. That person is my DH, who died at 53 in 2006, after 47 years of living with Type 1 Diabetes. He used to play his radio all night (he was in a hospital bed the last couple years of his life and I slept down the hall), as he slept poorly and it comforted him. A short while after he died, the room now empty of that bed and all medical accoutrements, I woke in the night to hear the radio. A talk show, as it always seemed to be in the wee hours. I padded down the hall to what had been his room, thinking perhaps I’d turned it on and left it on. No. It was off. But I heard it every night if I woke unexpectedly — every night for a good two weeks.

    Even now, almost 11 1/2 years later, in times of stress or worry or fear, if I wake in the night — in a house in a completely different place, a couple hundred km away from where we made our home together — I will hear it, very quietly. And as I return to sleep, comforted, it fades away.

    I never stopped dreaming after his death — and I never remember dream details — but he is generally part of them, hovering on the edges in his wheelchair (he lost both legs due to the disease), never standing, never speaking, never showing his face. But I know he is there, and am never afraid.

    This is a long comment, and for that I am sorry; but your post brought all this to the surface again…as posts and poems will do from time to time. Be not afraid of them; instead, try to take heart and healing and comfort and strength. Blessings for the next 6 months…

  123. Yesterday (March 2nd) was 17 years since my mom passed. There are certain things I can’t accurately remember, because I was just a scant 21 when she died. I just realized I can’t remember her laugh. It’s probably still in my head somewhere but I can’t bring it to the surface. There are other things I’ve forgotten, also, but even after 17 years, most of it is still there. And even after that long, I still have dreams about her. For some people, it just happens that way. This is probably 100% not helpful. That’s the story of my life. Oh well.

  124. Happy for you to have had that dream. What a wonderful few moments to feel again like you are with your mom just as it was. My mind helped me several times when I lost my dad. Normally not through dreams but through moments like driving behind a man in a small truck wearing a hat and looking just exactly like my dad. I just followed him for blocks until it got weird allowing myself to feel that it was him and boy was that a comfort. It also freshly exposed me to the chasm of hurt and loss but in a shorter burst. Grief is just an amazing thing. We are built to survive it. It can also deliver some rather astounding gifts. For me it helped me develop greater compassion and forgiveness in general. I hope you have more heart-mending dreams of your mom.

  125. For me, it is closing in on 4 years since I lost my Mom and my best friend. I still ask her questions, and still get answers. It is comforting to me! Warm thoughts to you, Stephanie.

  126. I feel so blessed when I dream of my loved ones who have passed. My heart is filled with joy upon waking, and it seems that I am uplifted for days by the intense memory.
    I could even smell my loved one.

  127. Thank you for sharing. After my auntie died I had a dream she came to me and told me she was fine and everything was ok. I know it was my brain, but it helped so very much.
    I’m glad your brain is helping you, too. <3

  128. Jeez. What I need here is a “like” button.

    And I need to hit it many, many times.
    Thank you for writing this.

  129. I lost my mom 32 years ago and I still miss her deeply. And she stays with me, like your mom will forever.

  130. I had a dream like this after my dad died. He was standing right beside me comforting me and saying he was ok. Weird because I was awake doing the dishes. I’ve never had another and I’ve never had one after my adored mum died but that presence was so real I no longer know what to believe.
    Thank you for your dream.

  131. “I know it wasn’t her. It was a memory of her, an idea of her, and I know that I wasn’t visited by my mother in ghost form, and it wasn’t her coming back to guide or help me, and I don’t believe in a great thereafter, and I know perfectly well that any advice she gave me was really just my subconscious trying to do a little problem solving … ”

    1. It felt good, and
    2. It helped.

    Fuck it, just take it. The universe tosses enough turds in our faces already. When it tosses a flower instead, just pick it up and enjoy it.

  132. I do believe in the afterlife and dreams as a way to visit it. I have had dreams of all my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles having a great time at parties too. I believe that is what heaven is all about. I am not afraid of death because I know I will be with them. I’m just not ready to go yet.

  133. I still dream of my parents and they have been gone for 2 years as well as my grandparents who have been gone for 20 years. Rest well, you will not forget. They keep popping back in when you least expect them.

  134. As you described your dreams, the first thing that came to mind was that in every one of them…….you were the responsible one, the caretaker, and the one who had to keep everyone safe.
    I know that when we were able to go home and our sons were young, I always slept so well because I knew that my parents were there and the boys would be safe.
    So difficult when that scenario changes.

  135. My parents and my husband are gone. I have dreams about them like that. I either wake up laughing or crying and wanting the dream back. I think I am very lucky. Keep moving, girl. You can do it.

  136. Today is my mother’s 90th birthday. She passed when she was 87 so I’ve been without her for almost 3 years. I plan on marking this occasion with some flowers (she loved flowers), I will buy some lottery tickets (she liked these in particular, it was a bit of a joke really) and have a lovely dinner, with some great red wine to toast her. I have gone further than you in the grief cycle, but I have to say there are challenges that come along even now. I am not so much grieving now as remembering with affection and love. Sending you lots of hugs.

  137. I don’t believe in a heaven or hell or any of that type of thing. But the 1st law of Thermodynamics says that energy is always conserved, it can’t be created or destroyed. My grandmother was such a bright spot of energy… and I believe that some of that has been reused in her great-great-granddaughters (otherwise how is it that my youngest laughs just like her?) but there’s still some waiting to be used… and it shows up when the barriers are down in my sleep and visits with me. Memory, energy, a ghost or an angel, what is the difference?
    They’re all words used to describe how important someone was to us and how we keep them alive in our hearts.

  138. Comforting, sad, real….lost my Mom in September. The first few months after were blank – I went through the motions of living. Now I dream about her and miss her, but feel that she’s pressing me to move on. I suppose we`ll make it, but some days are almost unbearable.

  139. When my maternal grandmother died (she taught me to knit), her daughters (my Mom and Aunt) and I were clearing her closets. I dreamed that we (Mom, Aunt, Aunt’s SIX daughters, and Grandma) were discussing birth control (unlikely topic of conversation for us in 1984), and Grandma announced that SHE was taking a pill to become pregnant?!?

    I related the dream to my Mom and Aunt, and learned that Grandma had always wanted more children (she’d had 3) – and in fact had hoped to adopt her own youngest nephew, after her sister had died. Sadly, that never happened, and that child died in a farm accident at a young age.

    Take comfort in the good dreams and happy memories.

  140. A compliment on your writing style is not exactly on point here, but you seem to encapsulate the feelings of losing a loved better than anyone else I’ve ever read.

    I started to bawl when your dream ended. Surely there is some resonance of the departed in the world, even if only inside our brains. It’s a blessing beyond all blessings to have a “visit” such as you had. Treasure it, even the pain. The best parts of life are the bittersweet parts.

  141. Never in my life has anyone I’ve read from afar made me laugh, cry, and nod in understanding more than you, Stephanie.

    I am with you, and I see you. From far away, and I venture to speak for others, but we really do.

    Thank you for sharing with me (us).

  142. Yeup, pretty much how grief goes along. Insights, saddness, memories, hope, and most of all … love.

    Hugs and Peace

  143. I treasure those times when my mom and dad are with me in my dreams, and especially back when they were healthy and vibrant and, well, alive. I wake up so happy to be able to still see and feel them, even just in my subconscious, and look forward to their next visit. Dreams are wonderful things

  144. These dreams are lovely, and I hope they will bring you great comfort and peace. My mum has been gone 25 years now. Once in a while, she is in a dream. I’ve learned to recognize it as such and to just enjoy the time together. I have also experienced lovely moments with my dearest friend, who has been gone for 18 years.

  145. My birthday is nearly 10 years after yours, but I’m a week older. I’d do the math but it’s too much. When your mom died I was sad for you, and I thought about my mom, and how much I would be sad when she died.

    And then she died in February.

    Like you, I have vivid dreams that I remember often, including a few where my subconscious has invited you in (Crayola festival in a park is the most memorable, several years ago). I am both glad and sorry that she came back like that. I guess I’m lucky, I never did quit dreaming, except for the few days she was dying in the hospital. A couple of weeks after she’d died I dreamed that she took us out to dinner for Labor Day, like she did when we were children, but my brain clearly set this dream in the early 90s (hello, TVs full of ACID WASHED DENIM), when I would have been in my early 20s, right around the first time we nearly lost her.

    Like your dream, my brain then recreated just who she was at that time of my life, and she told us some anecdote of trivia, because she always remembered weird bits of trivia. It was definitely a dream about processing that she was gone, because everyone close to me that has died before her turned up in the dream and then faded away before we went to the restaurant – and somehow she helped me say good bye to them, one by one before it ended just right, with this little bit of trivia:

    The inventor of the pancake had recently passed away. He was an Italian by the name of Colonel Bologna (fancy spelling, that’s how you know he was Italian). He’d invented pancakes while working for the Nazis in 1943.

    My subconscious just as subtle as yours – I’m sure his name was “Baloney” so that my brain knew the trivia wasn’t true – and it was processing that sometimes Mom’s trivia was right, and sometimes she got the details wrong, or made it up to tell a good story.

    I’ve been meaning to comment and tell you how sorry I was about your mom since I read that she was gone, but somehow I didn’t have the words until now. I’m so sorry. We both should still have our moms.

  146. A year and a half after my dad died, I had a hysterectomy. While I was under, I had the most wonderful dream of a long conversation with my dad. It was completely normal, yet we both knew he was dead. They had a hard time waking me up in recovery because I so badly didn’t want the dream to end.

  147. Not so much the dreaming bit, but there was one moment about 3 months after my husband died that I KNEW he was standing tight behind me, at the same time that I KNEW he absolutely was not. But for that split second, everything was right in my world and I felt so perfectly comfortable and as if his death had never happened.

  148. Stephanie, there is ordinary reality and there is extraordinary reality. Your experience is one of extraordinary reality. These incredible experiences are extremely precious and healing. I know of what you describe. Their impact is consequential in every wonderful way possible, even though there can be great sadness associated with our loss in the here and now. The loving spirits of great people are not extinguished. They stay with us forever. xoxo

  149. This is so beautiful and so true…I’ve had these dreams myself. Sending you a hug and wishing you peace for your heart.

  150. My mother died a year ago. We had a *very* different relationship to what you had, thanks to mental illness and such. So I didn’t exactly grieve for her, but it was of course still a Thing. And then I started dreaming of her. Which, in her life, was always really unpleasant. Huge, scary, horrible fights – like, she might literally try to kill me – that would leave me feeling just awful on waking. But the first time I dreamed of her after death, it was a small, sweet thing. She called me up for something, gave me a minor message, and I was so puzzled because I knew she was dead. “Ok mom, ok, but – where are you CALLING from?!” and she just laughed and hung up. Since then I’ve had a few more: small, sweet moments that feel like the best of her, and none of the tension and ugliness.

    Dreams are awesome.

  151. A good friend’s mother passed away yesterday, and in all the messages of love to her I learned that a traditional Jewish condolence is “May her memory be a blessing.” It’s such a beautifully nuanced sentiment, to first and foremost wish mourners ongoing comfort and strength in their memories of their loved ones, and that the beautiful things of that relationship stay with them.

    You have illustrated this experience so perfectly—her memory is truly a blessing.

  152. Bless you Steph. This is beautiful and so touching, and so hopeful. Your Mum sounds like a wonderful person and will never leave you x

  153. I’m reading this near the 8-month anniversary of my own mother’s passing. It reminds me of a dream I had about her after she died. We were hanging out laundry to dry and talking now about replacing old Tupperware. So ordinary, but so powerful in its ordinariness. I woke up aching for her more than ever.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m so sorry for your loss, and I speak from recent personal experience. Our mothers never leave us, and when we dream about them, it is because they have taught us everything we need to know, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Grief blindsides us sometimes, but I hope that, like me, you mostly smile at her memory.

    Love from a knitter in Germany

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