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Carol's Columns

Healing While Dreaming

When in a crisis one often dreams more intensely than usual. Freud speaks of dreams as being "the golden highway to the subconscious." They can help us to heal.

While grieving the loss of your child, keeping a dream journal can be helpful. Note all of your dreams. If they are vivid but do not make sense, record them anyway. At some point the symbolism may become clear. Always note repeated themes in dreams. Do these dreams change? If you cannot remember your dreams, try to remember the feelings they evoked. For instance, you might say, "I can't remember the dream but I awoke feeling so lost..."

Supposedly only 10% of our mind is conscious and the other 90% is subconscious. By accessing your dreams you can become in touch with a greater part of yourself. Doing so may give you a deeper understanding of how you are processing your pain.

After the death of my seven-year-old daughter Kristen, my dreams were often nightmares. Her body, found one week after her death, was so mutilated I was not allowed to see her. My nightmares were a result of not having closure.

While consciously I was grappling with her death, a nightmare in itself, subconsciously I was struggling to rescue her. Nightly I would bolt upright, soaked with perspiration from horrifying images of her drowning in the ocean and my not being able to reach her. Terrified, I would grab from my nightstand the only thing left of her to hold, a ring found on her finger. Holding tightly to her ring, I would try to calm myself by talking out loud and telling myself she was no longer in the ocean. I would repeat many times over that she was now at peace and I must also try to find peace in her death. When I returned to sleep, the dreams that followed were always comforting.