It is not only possible and lawful, but an absolute duty on the part of mortals to keep up a loving intercourse with the loved ones who have gone before.
W. T. Stead, Preface to After Death, or Letters from Julia (1909)
The dead come calling for all the reasons that we visit each other in ordinary life--and for a few more interesting reasons. They come to deal with their unfinished business and pay off their debts. They come seeking forgiveness, or revenge. They come to tell us they’re okay, or that they are lost and afraid, or struggling with addictions, and need help. They come for closure and mutual forgiveness and blessing.
They come to give us counsel and information, which is sometimes reliable and sometimes not. They may come to give us an urgent warning, or a health advisory, or to alert us to the location of a missing document. When our dead are fully alert to their new condition--and the gifts of seeing across time and space that go with it--they may be able to function as very accurate and helpful psychic advisers, if our channels are clear and we can receive their messages without too much static on the line. They may now want to give us early warning of events that may take place in the future--in the circumstances of our personal lives, or on the stage of the world. A visitation by the departed is often a hallmark of a precognitive dream, one that previews an event that will be played out at some point in the future.
Where there is continuing love, as well as clarity, our dead may function as family angels, looking out for our best interests and those of our loved ones and family members.
Our dead may come to us to make us aware that the soul has a life beyond the body. They may come to help us get ready for our own journeys beyond death.
The Appearance of the Dead in Dreams
In most dreams, the departed appear to be living, and very often the dreamer is unaware that the person he or she encounters is “dead” until after waking. The reason is that the departed are indeed alive, although no longer in the physical realm.
The departed may appear as the dreamer remembers them from their last days of physical life, especially in the first dream encounters.
We don’t change all at once after death. Sometimes we carry on as if we are in the same bodies and suffering the same limitations as before we died. Eventually we wake up to the fact that we have better options--change our ways, take on new bodies, and find our way to places of healing, growth, and higher educations.
A man I’ll call Jim was anguished when he first started seeing his beloved sister, who died at twenty-nine, in his dreams. She had been paralyzed for twelve years prior to her death. In his initial dreams, he found her confined to bed, still unable to move around. He asked her if she was being healed, and she told him, “No.”
I encouraged him to try to go back inside his dream--through the Active Dreaming technique called Dream Reentry--talk to his sister, lend her the full support of his love and strength, and encourage her to get up from her bed and experiment with walking in her new body. He felt uneasy about trying this. I suggested that his first step might be to imagine his sister was walking. “Just make it up. Picture her healthy and well, walking and running and dancing. Then carry those happy pictures with you when you go visit her, wide awake and conscious, inside the dream where you last saw her.” Jim remained skeptical, at first, reluctant--in the way of so many grownups whose inner child has been crushed by adults hostile to wonder--to turn his imagination loose. But when he was able to do this, his own little boy came back, the part of him that was open to wonder. And he was eventually able to take that wonder-maker with him to visit his dead sister in the space of a dream, and to take her hands and gently pull her from her bed, and to walk and skip and dance with her.
I believe real healing was accomplished in this dream visit, for both the dead sister and the surviving brother.
As a general point, this case reminds us to be aware that our dead appear to us not only as they are, or suppose themselves to be, but as we conceive them to be. By adjusting our own thoughts and expectations, we can not only see our departed loved ones in a new way but actually help them develop the ability to shapeshift their own forms and environments in fabulous ways on planes of reality where thoughts are things and imagination makes worlds.