Our minds and subconscious seem to work of their own accord at times, and when we are most open or unaware, long forgotten events, memories, fears, worries or matters we have yet to cope with, bubble up to the surface. For me, like so many, it is in our dreams that buried thoughts, worries, feelings and emotions manifest themselves.
In my last post I spoke of PTSS (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) which can suddenly awaken long forgotten doubts and fears. It seems that recent events in my life have triggered off a series of waking images of Rachel in her last hours, as well as dreams. This past weekend my dreams were non-stop. It was a reoccurring dream, in it, Rachel was a young woman who suddenly needed medical attention. As my dream progressed, I found myself carrying Rachel as a child into the hospital, as she lay upon the stretcher, she seemed to get smaller in size. As I stroked her face, she kept telling me over and over, 'I love you, Mom.' Finally in what seemed like an eternity a doctor appeared, by then Rachel was about just over an inch in size; he picked her up, not knowing what this was, placed her in a tissue and put her in his pocket. I was perplexed and began screaming over and over, 'that's my daughter, that's my daughter.' His look was one of confusion as I followed him around as he saw other patients, repeating the same phrase, occasionally adding Rachel's name to it. Finally he handed the tissue over to a nurse as I kept telling them that it is my daughter. She finally placed her under a microscope and quickly announced that she was still breathing. The doctor began to apologize profusely, but said he didn't know what he could do, or how he could help at all. The nurse stopped his tyraid to inform us that she had disappeared, 'she's gone,' and looked up at both the doctor and I in disbelief. Now I began repeating her phrase, 'she's gone, she's gone' as tears rolled down my face. Throughout this dream sequence I would awaken, tossing and turning, at one point even my husband asked if I was okay, and each time I would fall asleep the dream would start again, ironically sometimes where I had left off. When the dream reached the final phase where I was saying 'she's gone,' I was awaken by the dampness on my pillow from the tears that began in my dreams.
I awoke Sunday morning exhausted and drained, made myself a cup of coffee, looked at my husband, and told him that I had dreamt of Rachel all night long. The dream was so vivid, so exacting, that I can still see some of the scenes if I just close my eyes.
So what does it all mean? That has been the haunting question for me since waking yesterday morning. I looked at what could have caused this dream, but like I said before, so many things have happened recently, that one or a combination of many could have triggered such a dream. The message however, was very clear, 'She's gone.' But what of the other imagery, the diminishing size of my daughter; it was as if the cycle was being reversed, she went from adulthood, to a child, an infant, and finally an embryo, and then nothing. It almost seems as if my subconscious wants to find a way to accept that my daughter is gone, to match up to what the brain and heart has already seemed to accept, or so I believed.
Since the dream has occurred, I find myself easily saddened, tears threatening, and a tiredness that is hard to explain. My lack of restful sleep explains the tiredness, but the raw emotions I experienced in my dream, refuse to let go.
Why do I share this with you? Because this is 'Living with Grief,' this is coping or attempts at coping, this is trying to find rational ways to understand what has happened and find acceptance. Nothing is as it seems with grief, one minute you appear to have fully accepted the death of a loved one, and the next you are in the grip of overwhelming sadness. When does it finally stop? Who knows, really. So many 'experts' will tell you that there is specific time frames for grief, but those who understand it best, are those who have been there, fully understand, and know the uncertainty of loss. Someone recently asked me if the pain ever goes away, to which I simply answered, 'No' but it does get less intense, easier to bear.
I have stated many times, there are no rules in grief, no guidebook, no step-by-step instructional manual, just life and the experience of others. As I shared my dream with you, I have also shared it with someone who has done grief counseling, and her comment was that sometimes the subconscious mind wants to come to grips with the reality of what is happening to us. She explained that our dreams do tell us something, and encouraged me to write it down, advice I had heard before when I was seeing my counselor after Rachel's death. And that when we dream, it is us we dream about, or a part of us.
What I have come to understand from my own dream is that Rachel is in fact gone. She is no longer visible to the human eye, but yet I know she is with me, now even more than ever. Her words 'I love you' mean so much to me, and yes 'she is my daughter' and will always be my daughter. I will forever be mom to three wonderful children, nothing has changed that fact, nothing can.
Do not let your dreams frighten you, embrace them, write them down, look to what their message might be. Share them with someone you trust, who you feel will understand, and maybe together you can decipher its meaning, or at least shed some light on your emotions and what may have triggered them.
Grief is a journey and its path may not always be clear, but know that you are not alone, someone has walked ahead of you and has found the way. And when the journey gets too hard, as it often will, stop, rest and allow yourself to deal with it one step at a time, one moment at a time, and definitely, one day at a time. I have seen what others have accomplished, and know that I too, will be okay, as you or someone you know, will be as well. So take it slow, be good to yourself, and know that we find ways to cope in the most unlikely of places, we just need to allow ourselves to be opened to the message.
Blessings! and until we meet again.