I Still Dream the Dreams of Grief…


At first the dreams were just awful.  Dreams that would make me feel depressed for a couple of days.  Maybe they were nightmares.  I usually dreamt about him being sick, being angry with me, being disappointed.  And then I would wake up and carry them around with me until I could shake the emotions. I didn’t dream all the time but when I did these dreams would dominate my waking emotions.  Once in a long while I would dream something sweet…something, I think, that was closer to reality but they were so infrequent that the other dreams tainted them.

After I remarried I would dream that he knew I was married and so would be there but would not want to interfere so would stay in the background of my dream and wait for me to talk to him but, always, still dying. Or, that we both knew I was remarried but he would still be sick and I would want to help but knew I couldn’t.  That I could no longer help him, as a wife, in these dreams would breed such a heaviness in me that I would always weep in my dream. Sometimes, I would wake up crying.

After some time I realized that I needed outside help.  I had loved my husband and I knew that he loved me.  Our marriage was tough sometimes, yes.  We used to say that we were like fire and ice.  The fact that my dreaming only consisted of negative emotions, though, was not healthy and I knew it.  I made an appointment with a Christian counselor I had seen once before.

This counselor listened as I tried to explain, as I cried, how I imagined that all of these dreams must be rooted in some kind of truth.  I obviously still had unresolved issues with hurt I had harbored towards this man I had loved and lost.  There was a part of me that carried, as though still real, his reactions towards me out of frustration or a short temper.  And then there was the issue of my remarriage.  Consciously, I knew that God had given me a new life with a new husband and that it was good.  Subconsciously, I must have taken ownership of what I imagined others opinions were of my remarriage and applied them to my dreams.  I don’t know.  This is certainly not an area where I have expertise.  I only know my own experience.  Desperately, I desired to either not dream at all or to have more dreams where I remembered him whole and happy.

When I left the office that day I had some tools.  The counselor said that I, quite possibly, had a form of PTSD – post traumatic stress syndrome – which is quite common for family caregivers.  I had never heard that before and it was something that brought me relief.  She encouraged me to talk to someone I trusted every single time I had a dream like that. Also, to journal it…to write it down.  Something about verbalizing and writing it was important to help my brain embrace the truth of him being gone.  That what my dreams were communicating was not reality.  So, I did that.  I prayed for healing and I did that.  It helped.  The first time.  The heaviness of those dreams in the first years don’t happen anymore.

I still dream, though.  Two dreams, of Cliff, in just the past week.  They can still throw me, a bit.  Not like before though.  I dream, usually, that he is healthy but somehow there is the tension of being married to someone else and also, usually, to Cliff.  Funny stuff, sometimes. Dreams are just dreams…this is the struggle – to be okay with my mind doing what it needs to do and remembering that it does not substantiate my reality.  It does not necessarily indicate what is true.  My memories can be loving and sweet in my dreams as well as my waking moments.  Sorrow lasts as long as it lasts. “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5.  My joy, increasingly, comes in the morning. Even as I still dream the dreams of grief.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Peter G
    Jul 22, 2015 @ 16:57:35

    Wendy,
    You’re still an inspiration to me and many others! Thank you for sharing!
    Peter

    Like

    Reply

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