When a loved one dies, the emotional devastation can leave us with a strong desire to see them one more time.  We want a second chance to say things we didn’t share. Regret can feel like a clamp around our hearts. What if we can still connect with our loved ones in visitation dreams? 

Visitation dreams are also known as dreams of the bereaved.1 Research by Canadian investigators of 76 bereaved individuals published in the International Journal of Dream Research2 found that 67.1 percent of the bereaved stated visitation dreams helped them believe more in an afterlife; 68.4 percent characterized their dreams of the deceased as actual “visitations” and 70.9 percent reported dreams of the dead helped them feel more connected with the deceased.

Radiologist Dr. Larry Burk of Duke University Medical Center researched dreams that diagnosed illnesses which were later validated by pathology reports. His published results stated many of the patients described having reassuring life-like visitation dreams.3 

Have you had a dream that made you sit up in bed and say, “Wow! That was what I needed. Seeing my love again healed my heart”?

Well, I had just such a dream. Before going to sleep, I had set an intention to see my best friend who had died of leukemia. We were tennis partners, our husbands played tennis together, and we vacationed in exotic places like the British West Indies between my cancer treatments. (Yes, I am a three-time breast cancer survivor whose dreams diagnosed her illness missed by medical tests.) I never believed I would outlive her. To protect her privacy, I named her Linda in this article.

When she died, a piece of me died, too. My grief was physically tangible and suffocated me like a heavy wet blanket.

 Months passed. I longed to see her again to know how she was doing. The idea, “she is in a better place with deceased loved ones,” left me empty. Was Linda happier now? Did she miss me, too? Heck, did she even remember me?

 So, I set my intention before bed to see Linda in my dreams. Yes, I was that desperate. During a dream, Linda walked up and said, “Wanna get a drink?” It felt so natural I didn’t wake from my sleep. We sat in a classy restaurant and ordered martinis, just like old times. But, when our drinks arrived, her martini only had thinly sliced carrots and celery in a glass with no liquid.  “Oh, I don’t drink anymore,” she said, “but I wanted to see you, too.” I awoke happy.

Linda’s husband later told me she had given up alcohol during her treatments. 

Was this a dream or reality? 

Setting a dream intention is easy. Write it on a piece of paper and place it under your pillow and “sleep on it.” When someone we love dies, it can feel like withdrawal. There is comfort in the knowledge they are only a dream away and that love never dies.  

Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos of Rancho Mirage is a survivor, author, dream expert, speaker, TV/radio host/producer and has been featured on Dr. Oz and The Doctors. For more visit www.KathleenOkeefeKanavos.com

1) Psychology Today; Visitation Dreams II: Dreams of the Bereaved https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dream-catcher/201806/visitation-dreams-ii-dreams-the-bereaved;
2) Black, DeCicco, Seeley, Murkar, Black, & Fox International Journal of Dream Research Volume 9, No. 2: 2016). https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/IJoDR/article/view/28117;
3) Warning Dreams Preceding the Diagnosis of Breast Cancer: A Survey of the Most Important Characteristics EXPLORE The Journal of Science and Healing 11(3) · February 2015, urk, Larry  DOI: 10.1016/j.explore.2015.02.008

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Comments (17)

  • Dear Kathleen,
    Thank you. It is so comforting to think that our loved ones never really leave us, and that they live restored and whole on the other side. They are as close as our dreams. Bless you for writing this article.

    • Lauren Del Sarto

      Thank you for reading, Lori! Glad you enjoyed. And yes, we will have more from Kathleen in future issues!

      Lauren Del Sarto

    • Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos

      Lori Sullivan, you are so right, there is such comfort in knowing our loved-ones never really leave us. They are love without a physical body, but their love is the key to the Sacred Dream Doors. Thank you for reading Desert Health News and commenting on Dream Visitations: Love Never Dies. Please watch for my article in the next issue (May/June) of Desert Health.

  • Wow. This is great information. And you paint such a clear picture. Thanks for the informative article.

    • Lauren Del Sarto

      Thank YOU for your note, Deli, and for reading Desert Health.

      With appreciation ~

      Lauren Del Sarto

    • Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos

      Hi Deli, I am so glad you enjoyed the article. Dreams are much like a picture because they also use signs and symbols. I encourage people who are not comfortable with writing words in a dream journal to paint or sketch their dreams. Dr. Bernie Siegel, who wrote the foreword in 2 of my books, had his young patients who were not proficient in language draw their dreams and nightmares before surgery to better understand their health issues. It turned their dreams into a clear picture that was beautiful. And, a picture is worth a thousand words. Thank you for your comment. Please watch for my article in the May/June issue of Desert Health.

  • Patricia Cagganello

    I love the idea of setting a dream intention. Thank you for sharing your story. Cheers to you and Linda!

    • Lauren Del Sarto

      Having just lost a loved one, I am practicing this too!
      Thank you for reading Desert Health, Patricia ~

      Lauren Del Sarto

      • What a wonderful and uplifting article about our loved ones that we miss so very much. I will definitely set an intention to chat. Thank you!

        • Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos

          Patricia Cagganello, a dream intention is a way of setting the stage for your dream or the table for your dream food-for-thought. It helps quiet the mind into “focus mode” for dream information. Our dreaming world is a microcosm of our waking world and if our thoughts are on a deceased loved one, what better way to deal with both life and grief than to connect with them through the Sacred Dream Doors. They miss us, too. Thank you for your time and comment. Watch for my article in the May/ June issue of Desert Health.

        • Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos

          DeVonne, I welcome you to set your intention to chat with a deceased loved one in your dreams, and then send me a comment in the May/June issue of Desert Health sharing your dream experience. Thank you for your comment.

  • What an amazing way to reach out to loved ones that have passed on! Having lost several family members in the last few years can’t wait to use this technique and feel the connections!! Would love to hear more!

    • Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos

      Colette, if we live long enough we all eventually bid farewell to family and friends. But, it is so reassuring to know that love keeps us connected through dreams until we meet, again. Watch for my article in the May/June issue of Desert Health News for more on dreams, and drop me another comment if you connect with family members in your dreams. Thank you for your comment.

  • I truly believe this! I have had vivid dreams of family members whom I haven’t seen in years and yet, I wake up with a to do list of things “we” are going to do that day?!?! Kathy, thank you for writing such a heartfelt story and one that truly touches so many of us, especially in these times.

    • Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos

      Cathy, it is always wonderful to meet other people who believe in the power of dreams. I love your to-do list. When we are in a dream with our loved-ones it is like time has stood still and we are right back in life with them. It is all so real. Thank you for your comment.

  • Lovely post, Kat!  I see dreams of my mother constantly – and some of them are a joint explorations to moments she did not know about in my life but was curious about. There is no doubt in my mind we continue to connect as before.

  • Karen D Maguire

    Everyone loves Kat. Your wisdom and experiences are inspirational to me and everyone. I enjoy all you share. I have so much appreciated our recent discussions regarding my dreams. I truly believe in the power of dreams and you continue to educate others to do the same.
    Very important! Thank you my friend


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