My son died over six years ago and one thing my wife and I have in common with our grief is that Oliver never appears in our dreams. I would love to see Oliver in a dream, getting a ride from brother Dov in the little Jeep, doing his happy dance, flapping his hands with excitement over something, or just seeing him doing anything — even sleeping (especially sleeping). This past week I dreamt about Oliver’s death and, again, Oliver was not there which is just as well. I don’t want to see him dead again. But all the pain of his absence was there.
The details are fuzzy but I remember knowing that Oliver had just died and the pain of the loss was intense. Perhaps more intense than when he actually died since then I was busy worrying about my wife and other children in the midst of the grief. This time, I just cried and I seemed to be alone. Deep, heaving sobs and my heart literally hurt. And then, because it was a dream, I was suddenly at work. Someone asked how Oliver was and I said he was dead and the sobbing started all over. “I can’t do this” I said and I remember someone saying “of course” and I left to go home. End of dream.
I don’t know what that all means and I’m not going to try and figure it out. I happened to see my counselor this week who noted that something in my unconcious was trying to get out. Maybe it was the chance to grieve without responsibility for anyone else. Maybe I was just missing him a lot. For the next couple of nights getting sleep was tough; I was probably afraid that I would have the dream again. I guess you could call it a nightmare in the same sense that watching your six-year-old son die is a nightmare.
In the Bible we find many instances of dreams serving as visions or sending a message. Saul running to Samuel, Joseph and Daniel interpreting dreams, and St. Joseph being told when to take Jesus to Egypt and when to leave. But my dream is no warning since Oliver is already dead — perhaps it is just my attempt to make sense of the incomprehensible. Or better stated, it is trying to make sense of the comprehensible since people die. Even children die. I just wish they could be included in the list of this poem.
Things That Cannot Die
by Paige Riehl (website)
A spoon in a cup of tea.
Letters in yellow envelopes,
the way a hand pushed lines
into the soft paper.
A white shirt draped
over her chair.
An open window. The air.
Call of one blackbird.
Silence of another.
My love for you, I say.
My love for you infinity
times a million, my son says.
Sounds of piano notes
as they rest in treetops.
The road from here to there.
Grief, that floating, lost swan.
6 thoughts on “I Dreamt About My Son”
As a parent and grandparent, I cannot imagine. I hope you get your dream of little Oliver one day.
Thank you! I hope I do.
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My prayer is that you get a dream with a Happy Dance and that precious smile to go with it. He touched many in his short life here on earth.
Thank you for those caring words!
My name is Dee. I lost my husband May 2019. Like you and your wife, I do not see my husband in my dreams. I have one time and that dream is so vivid that it holds a pain so deep it is hard to even describe. What I do experience is the feeling of him in my dreams. I dream of odd things when I actually dream, and in some of them, I know he is standing next to me can feel him there I just don’t see him. In a way, since my loss is so recent I am almost relieved that I do not see him often. I don’t know that I am ready to talk to him yet, I was not with him when he passed but my children were. They dream of that night often, and for them it is a nightmare. I have them in counseling to help cope with this. As time has passed their dreams have lessened. I just want to say thank you for sharing your experiences with the loss of your son. I am so sorry for that loss, while the loss of a spouse is difficult I can’t even imagine the pain there is for losing a child. May God be with you and your family.
Dee, I’m so sorry for your loss. Although different than losing a child, loss is loss and grief is grief. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Prayers are sent for you and your family.