Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Resurrection of Don

Dreams about the departed are called visitation dreams. Whether or not the person we dream about lives on in some external realm, it's clear he lives on in our internal reality. 
The Dream: I am at Ruth’s house. The entry wall is wider than it is in waking life; it’s a room with a table, like a dining room. The staircase is in its normal place. Someone says that Don is upstairs. I feel concern, thinking that this person does not know that Don has died. 
“Don is dead,” I tell her. She goes upstairs to verify what I’ve said.
“No,” she says, when she returns. “He’s upstairs, and he wants to see you.”
“I’m not going up there,” I say.
Don comes down, naked from the waist up, radiant and glowing with health. He glows with something else besides. I am filled with joy to discover he is alive and healthy.

Interpretation: Visitation dreams are a way of grappling with the anxiety and loss we feel after a death. The dining table in the entry way tells me that the dream has come to provide some sustenance. Don is “upstairs,” in other words, he’s in my thoughts. I try to accept his death by telling myself (in the guise of the person who doesn’t know) that Don has died, but I don’t really believe it. I go upstairs to see for myself.  There I see that he does live—upstairs; in my mind he’s alive, while at the same time my down-to-earth self (the part who insists on remaining on the ground floor) refuses to accept it. I won’t go there. But Don gets the last word, as he often did: he won’t allow me to deny him life after death: he appears, transformed and radiant, and I am also transformed by joy when I see this new reality.


  1. Hello Carla. At the risk of being repetitious I will once again say thank you for sharing your dreams on such a regular basis. As I have only had access to my own dream record for the last forty years to compare notes with your unfolding dreamscape is a real privilege. Thank you. I am surprised that no one else has commented on this dream as if it were mine I think I might consider it to be more than a little significant.

    Taking this dream as my own I think I would be looking beyond the personal content to broader themes. I note that I am clearly meeting one who was dead but I see now that he is risen and comes in glory, radiant and bringing joy. I am no Christian but the parallels and symbology seem clear and I’m sure I don’t have to spell them out. From a Jungian perspective (and I cannot claim to be a Jungian analyst either) I would ask myself if “Don” were simply not my way of “clothing” the male principle in woman, in me. In other words is he not a dynamic and energetic personification of the animus? Here perhaps is my living link to the unconscious?

    Offered in good faith.

    Sincerely, Openfoot

  2. Thank you, Openfoot, for your kind reaction to the blog and for your interesting interpretation of the dream. This is intriguing because, while a man's anima if often envisioned in radiant spiritual splendor, I don't think I've ever heard of a woman's animus being depicted in a parallel fashion. And why not?! Your suggestion that it might be certainly gives us women something to think about.

  3. Hello again Carla - something else to add to the mix? From NYAAP Jung Lexicon, under animus: "in the fourth stage,(of animus development in a woman) the animus is the incarnation of spiritual meaning. On this highest level, like the anima as Sophia, the animus mediates between a woman’s conscious mind and the unconscious. In mythology this aspect of the animus appears as Hermes, messenger of the gods; in dreams he is a helpful guide".
    I hope that's helpfuL? Kind Regards, Openfoot

  4. Thanks again, Openfoot. I was not aware of the possible evolution of one's animus. I will try to learn more--

  5. Thanks to Openfoot for recommending the NYAAP Jung Lexicon.

    It's a well-informed, readable, and searchable collection of Jung's terminology.

  6. Thank you for this discussion. On, Susan Sims Smith has a 2008 podcast from a presentation she gave at the Haden Summer Dream Conference titled "Dreams and Life After Death". She has a Jungian/Christian background and now is going to India and experiencing their practices. Susan makes a point that some people have these dreams, while others don't - Susan's point is that some people have dreams like this for others. So, this can be a dream that extends beyond the dreamer - to bring comfort not only to the dreamer, but to the dreamer's family as well. I once led a dream group, and all 3 participants brought visitation dreams, and the experience brought me closer to a belief in life after death. Emily