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Grief Dreams

Grief Dreams

by Chaplain Julia Rajtar, MAPS, BCC

The dream began… I had a dream from my deceased five-year old daughter.  She appeared to be floating near the ceiling of our bedroom.  She was healthy with curly hair(she had died from cancer and was almost bald and severely jaundiced and bloated before death.).  She was smiling and beaming at me.  


Joshua Black, PhD, is a grief dream researcher, speaker, author and host of the Grief Dreams Podcast.  His story, is also one of grief dreams. His father died suddenly, at age 52, and Joshua never had a chance to say goodbye.  Three months later, he had a dream wherein he had an opportunity to say good-bye and tell his father that he loved him. Joshua said he was pleased with this experience, but he never told anyone.  Why not? According to Dr. Black’s research, there are several reasons dreams are not shared. First, who would believe us? Second, who could we tell without someone placing their interpretation/judgment on our dream?  Third, sometimes we remember having a dream but not the details of the dream.

Many of Us Dream

Dr. Black’s research submits that a high percentage of us dream, but we still don’t talk about it.  We do not ask children after a death, if they had a dream about the deceased, and if the child starts talking about the dream, we usually don’t know how to respond.  Dr. Black suggests asking the child how they understand the dream. Sometimes we say we have not had a dream about the deceased, justifying it by saying things like, “they may not have crossed over yet, or they are mad at us, or they are waiting in purgatory.”  


Research suggests that we dream more than we recall or remember, which is why we don’t always remember we had a dream.  Some of the ways to improve that recall is to write down the dream immediately after it occurs, or voice record your thoughts right away of the dream.  Another way to recall the dream is to talk about it.  

Themes to Dreams

A common question Dr. Black is often asked includes, “Are there themes to the dreams?”  He proposes there are seven common themes which include: Rationalization,• Dead, dying, or ill • Discomfort • Comfort • Healthy and happy • Help-crossing-over • Separation.  For further information about these themes or other common questions about dreams, please go to this link: Common Grief Dream Questions Answered.


An ebook,  Dreaming of Owl,  written by Dr. Joshua Black and Deborah Stapleford, is a story for both children and adults, that creates awareness of grief dreams.  This book allows parents and caregivers to ask about those dreams and the emotions that come from them. There are special pages in this book for adults to learn how to have a discussion about dreams of the deceased with a child.

Learn More

If you are interested in further information and research on grief dreams, consider one of these ways to hear about Dr. Black and his team’s, work and research:   Grief Dreams web:, Grief Dreams Facebook group, Instagram@GriefDreams, Twitter@GriefDreams,,  Grief Dreams Podcast.



TAPS(Tragedy Assistance . for Survivors) Grief Dreams webinar, July 9, 2019, Joshua Black, PhD, grief dreams researcher, speaker, author, and host of the Grief Dreams Podcast. 


  • Ally Posted October 9, 2019 1:28 pm

    I’m looking to do a life story on my deceAsed son as his last son was born 2 months after he died. Any ideas

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