When you dream of a deceased person, ie someone who have passed away, it can be an attempt to contact you from the other side. Dreams is the easiest way the deceased person can reach out to us. I would like to approach this article systematically using a FAQ format so that you can jump to parts that are relevant to you.
Do note that I would cover Buddhist explanation and approach in some parts of the article.
Q: What do I need to take note of when I dream of a person who have passed away?
A: First, take note of the surroundings in the dream. Is it dark, damp and gloomy or it is cheery and bright? How did the person appear to you- did he/she look happy, did not say anything or miserable? Also did the person just passed away recently or have been for a long time?
If the environment is gloomy, dark, mouldy eg like a cave, deserted town, or a lonely depressing place, it means the person is not in a good realm (it could be hungry ghost or underworld realm). Especially if the person also did not talk and you felt they are unhappy, sad or miserable.
In Buddhist and Taoist customs, within 49 days of passing away, some of them remained in the ‘bardo’ state which is similar to a spirit or ghost. They have yet to take rebirth. During this time, it is good if we perform meritorious deeds like giving alms, spiritual observance and prayers and charity, and then dedicate the merits to them to help them seek a better rebirth.
Q: Why is it that only I dream of that person while the rest of my family did not?
A: Generally, it is very hard for a being in spirit form to reach out to someone. It is not like they can pick up a phone and just call as the form and dimension have changed. Usually we dream or some people could see them because they have karmic affinity with the departed person. With karmic affinity, it is easier for them to ‘dial’ into the correct frequency to initiate a communication.
It could be also because the person who got the dream or vision is more spiritually developed.
Another possibility is that the person may be going through a bout of bad luck where the ‘life force’ energy is low. That would reduce the barrier of communication.
Q: My mother loves my grandmother very much. When my grandmother passed away, my mom was so sad and mourning. Whereas for me, I have not been really close to my grandmother. And yet, I dreamt of my grandma in more than 1 occasion whereas my mother never dream of her.
A: Sometimes, the more we love that person who have passed away, the more dense the barrier is produced by that grief that made them unable to reach out to us.
The same thing happened to me. My mom was very attached to her adopted mother who I call as my grandaunt. When my grandaunt passed away, my mother was very sad and was crying. Whereas for me, I am very sorry to admit that I was too young to know. I was 9 years old that time and suddenly my cousins were all here, there were food and many people. I thought it was a party and laughed and have fun with my cousins. I was too young to know what death meant. I did saw my grandaunt in a casket but thought she was sleeping and that she would wake up.
On the 7th day of her passing, I had a vivid dream of my grandaunt which I remember till this very day. I have written more in another blog post which you can read further. My mom on the other hand, seldom dream of my grandaunt.
Q: I dream of my departed parent/ grandparent/ancestor telling me that they are hungry and have nothing to eat. They are asking for help. What should I do?
A: I strongly urge that if you dream of a deceased parent or family member that come in a sad condition and come to ask for help, please help them if you can especially if they are your parent, grandparent, ancestors, sibling or other family member. If the dream happen within 49 days of their passing, please do as much good deeds as possible and then make a sincere wish to dedicate merits to them. During this duration, it is easier for the merits to reach them as they have still not moved on.
In Thailand, Buddhists may perform Sanghadana (offerings of alms and requisites to a number of monks and monastics) and dedicate the merits to the departed. Some may go to the temple to do observations such as temporary ordination or follow the Eight Precepts and use the merits from the spiritual practice to dedicate to the departed person.
If you are from other part of the world, you may explore teachings such as from the Guan Yin Citta where “Little Houses” is chanted to help the departed. There is a related FAQ in the Guan Yin Citta based in Singapore. The “Little Houses” is said to be an accepted currency in the spiritual world that can be used to help the deceased.
Q: In the dream, I receive a message. Should I help to pass the message to their family members?
A: It would be up to your comfort level. Sometimes, the family may not believe you especially if you are from another faith or is saying something totally contradictory from their understanding of that person when they were alive. After all, if you are the only one who have that dream or you are asking them to do something they don’t want (example give the inheritance to you or just one person), it may not go down well and no one may believe you. Sometimes when you go and pass the message, people may view you as talking nonsense or a busy body.
In cases if you feel you would be ridiculed for passing the message or you know very well no one would belief you, perhaps you may choose not to do so. In your daily practice, do tell the deceased to learn to let go and move on. Or just be honest and say you cannot help and usually if it is a friend or a distant relative, they would leave and not disturb you. But I also recommend out of compassion for that being, engage in some spiritual practice or do prayers for that being, dedicate the merits to them so that they can move on to a better place.
Q: If I dream of someone and helped, would more of these beings come and disturb me and expect me to be a messenger?
A: Yes, sometimes when you help one especially if you have some kind of intuition, psychic power or eye that can see the dead, word does get around and the next thing you know, the entire village of ghosts would after you asking for help and there would be no peace. I have a friend who could see the dead and she told me that sometimes the deceased come and ask her for help to pass message to their family. She had chosen to ignore them because she told me if ever she start to entertain one request, then more would come. She just wanted to live life like an ordinary person and do not wish to enter into this spiritual line.
But if you are just an ordinary person that is usually not ‘sensitive’, then it could be just a on off request as the being reached out probably due to a strong karmic affinity you have with them.