After my mother passed, I dreamed she visited me, and was becoming an angel.

Cathy1 asked...

When my mother died of lung cancer I had taken care of her for 6 months. I knew she was not ready to die but accepted it. She was very sad those months but was very brave and did not complain. I became almost obsessed with wondering if she was at peace and happy after her death, even though I really don't believe in an afterlife. One night about six months after she died I dreamed she was on the phone with me sounding happy and healthy. I was so glad to hear from her. Suddenly a woman with a gentle voice came on and said Mom had to hang up. I asked why and she told me because she was studying to be an angel. This calmed me, but I wonder why I had such a religious quality to my dream. It has been three years and I still grieve her at the most unexpected times.

Expert Answer

Shelly Beach, MRE, is a seminary graduate; instructor at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan; author of seven books; and contributor to The NIV Stewardship Study Bible. She speaks nationally on faith, writing, and caregiving and is a host on the website Help for My Life in roundtable discussions on care issues. Beach's most recent release is Ambushed by Grace: Help and Hope on the Caregiving Journey.

Dreaming about passed loved ones visiting us is a fairly common experience, whether or not we may believe in an afterlife. No matter our theological view, we all long to know those we love are at peace and have been released from the pain, sorrow, and suffering of this world after death. Dreaming is one way our minds sort through and process information and life experiences in order to make meaning and find closure.

Many people who do not believe in an afterlife discover that they are concerned about the welfare of their loved ones after their death. The Bible tells us that an awareness of the eternal nature of life and of God Himself are planted in the hearts of humanity (Romans 1:20). When God designed the universe, He crafted it in such a way that people throughout history would recognize His power in creation "“ power that reaches beyond scientific explanation to our very souls. He also designed us with an innate sense that we are eternal creatures. We mourn the thought of permanent separation from our loved ones because we were "wired" to live in community; it is because of this that we experience wrenching pain when we are separated from those we love most "“ especially when we believe we will never see them again. Most of us find the thought of eternal separation from those we love to be an agonizing thought. Our love and concern for family and friends continues far beyond their passing.

It sounds as if you shared a close bond with your mother. In one way or another, you will grieve her loss for the remainder of your life. This is to be expected because she was an important part of your life. Your dream is one manifestation of your love for her. Take comfort in the fact that the love and care you shared with your mother is a both a gift of memory to you, as well as a gift that will remain with her forever.