Ghosts Dreams: The Good and Bad of Ghostly Visitations in Our Sleep

By Dawn Colclasure

On the day I gave birth to my oldest child, something out of the ordinary happened: I saw the ghostly image of my grandmother sitting next to my hospital bed, smiling. For the first time since she’d passed away eight years previously, I was seeing her spirit right in the same room.

Up until then, following her death, I’d grown accustomed to seeing her in my dreams.

It’s not unusual for someone to see the ghost of a loved one in their dream. The dreamer knows they are dreaming, and they know the person who they see in their dream. It could be a departed loved one, a friend, or even a beloved pet. For years, people have been visited by ghosts in their dreams, and, often, the dreams offer comfort during a time of grief.

For New Zealand resident Vanessa, however, the ghostly visitation in her dream was a little out of the ordinary. Her grandfather died suddenly several years ago, and she recently shared an experience that followed his passing. “For months afterwards, I had a number of dreams that he was talking to me, trying to tell me something,” she explains. “To this day I'm not quite sure what it was. It seemed like, in the dreams, I wasn't really listening. I think I was too freaked out with the thought that he was dead but talking to me! The dreams just stopped a few months after he died and I never had another one.”

Richard Hanf, who hails from New Jersey, also has a “ghost dream visitation” story to share. “My grandfather died, leaving my poor old grandmother alone.  Weeks go by turning into months, and she is still doing poorly, taking the loss of her husband very badly.  So one day she is sitting on a bench in front of her apartment building, when a friend of hers comes by.  They start talking about how badly she is feeling when her friend says that she will drop by later with a book to read that she is certain will help.  And so she does and my grandmother reads a little in the book each day.  Well, one day around a week later, my grandmother has almost finished the book, and falls asleep while reading it.  She dreams about my grandfather and he is talking to her.  He tells her that he is fine and not to worry about him any longer.  He says he no longer wants her to feel badly and says by the time it is her time to join him, he will have made a place ready for the both of them.  He promises to prove all this to her by promising to send her a present.
My grandmother is sleeping soundly in her chair with the book on her lap when she is awakened by a knock on the door.
It’s her friend who has come to take her book back.  My grandmother tells her friend that much to her surprise she actually does feel better, but says nothing about the dream.  As the friend turns to leave, she reaches down into the shopping bag she is carrying and pulls out a statue.  She hands it to my grandmother and says, ‘Here…take this…I want you to consider this a gift from your husband!’”

For some, the idea that a ghost can visit our dreams is hard to believe. We don’t exactly prepare for sleep hoping that we’ll see our dear lost Aunt Peggy or that we will be briefly reunited with a four-legged companion, but those dreams can and do happen. On the other hand, psychologists are well aware of how a person’s fears, regrets and pains can manifest in our dreams, and that they can appear to us as the “ghost” of a departed loved one. For this reason, it often happens that someone will look at a ghost dream and deduce that it is the dreamer’s regrets or fears taking the form of the ghost.

Still, believers are quick to point out that such “ghost dreams” have included information not previously known to the dreamer (such as a favorite article of clothing the lost loved one wore or a name), thereby cancelling out the suggestion skeptics like to give that “it’s all psychological.”

In fact, Martha Jette (,, author of the books Glimpses: True Stories of the Paranormal and Talking to My Angel, is aware of many stories involving ghostly activity in dreams. "When we sleep, our astral body/spirit often leaves our physical body,” she explains. “Sometimes, another person who is awake, may see that person's 'ghost,' so to speak, and think they have passed over."

In the July 13, 2008 issue of her newsletter, “Glimpses of the Paranormal”, Martha ran a story where a man dreamed he saw his sister, who'd died in a vehicle accident. This took place shortly after the family sat down to watch a commemorative DVD, which was made by the funeral home. According to the story, “Lisa came to me and told me it was a great family visit,” said Rick. “She was there the whole time and she especially enjoyed spending time with Tygue.”

Unfortunately, not every ghostly visitation in a dream has been a positive one. Some people have reported being "attacked" by ghosts in their dreams, or while in a sleep state. While skeptics are quick to term such episodes as "sleep paralysis" and prescribe due treatment, for some, this doesn't solve their problem. There are ways to deal with such situations:

1. Realize it is only a dream. You are able to make anything happen in your dream, including waking yourself up. If you are too distraught or weak to awaken yourself, try to do something in your dream that would normally attract someone else's attention. For example, if someone is sleeping in the bed with you, try waking them up in your dream.

2. Get a better handle on your dreams by reading the books Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge AND. These books are immensely helpful in understanding sleep and the dream state. They will give you methods to having better control over your dreams.

3. If possible, say, "In the name of Jesus Christ, leave me alone!" Some people have stopped their attackers when saying this and their dreams ended. Another thing to do is hang a crucifix on the wall near the bed. This, too, has proven to be helpful.

4. Try to reason with the attacker. If the attack is not too violent, try to confront them and ask them why they are trying to hurt you. Try to resolve the anger or fears in this dream to thwart the attack and bring the dream to an end.

5.     If all else fails, try seeking the help of a dream specialist. If you can't find one in your neighborhood, visit forums on the Internet and ask around.

As with all dreams, however, the true meaning behind the ghostly visit depends entirely upon the dreamer. If the ghostly visitation in the dream offers comfort or guidance, the best thing to do is to look past confusions and doubts and take the comfort for what it has been given. As Martha says, "Those who have passed over often come to us in dreams because it is a much less frightening experience for us than if they showed up standing beside our bed. They don't want to scare us that way, but simply want to pass on a message or let us know they are all right."

The Shadowlands Ghosts and Hauntings