My day job requires me to be a voracious reader. Over the past few months I’ve read a spate of articles on why increasingly technological and science-minded societies cannot shake off spirituality. There are many reasons for that, but one is visitation dreams.

If you don’t believe your friendly neighborhood Catholic blogger, then perhaps you’ll listen to Patrick McNamara Ph.D., of Psychology Today.

Dr. McNamara wrote in October 2011.

My father and mother died over a decade ago and about one year apart. Approximately 6 months after each death, I had at least one vivid dream with one or both of them in it. In both cases the dream did not feel like the typical run of the mill dream.

Instead the dream had a kind of hyper-real intensity to it. I felt that I had been touched or visited or communicated with. I could not easily shake the conviction that my father and my mother had communicated with me from beyond the grave. Now if I, an individual who studied dreams with a skeptical scientific cast of mind, could not shake the conviction that I had just communicated with my dead parents, how much stronger must be the conviction of someone with a less skeptical approach to dreams than me?

The general rule of thumb about a visitation dream is that if you have to ask yourself if your were visited by a deceased relative, then you probably were not. Regardless, here are a few signs that someone was trying to communicate with you:

  1. Visitation dreams are like dreams in high-definition.
  2. The deceased relative does not look sickly or old. If they are old, they will have a glow to them.
  3. The deceased relative will be direct and to the point. They have a message to get across and a short amount of time to communicate.
  4. You will wake up with a sense of relief.
  5. You will wake up and know in your gut that you were visited.

Since it would be rather rude to say “This is real” and then not share an example from my own life, I will do so now.

My grandmother died four years ago. We were extremely close. When she was in the hospital with a blood clot, I remember staying with her and brushing her teeth. When she was sick in her late 90s, I remember sleeping on the floor next to her bed so I could be there to help her get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. She moved in with our family when I was born and always said, “We came here together, Douglas!”

She was, for all intents and purposes, a second mother to me.

Prior to my grandmother’s death, my mom called and said I should buy a plane ticket as soon as possible. I secured a flight home that night, but sadly I did not make it from Washington, D.C. to Chicago in time. My grandmother visited me in a dream within a few days.

In my dream — my “high-definition dream” — I was standing over my grandmother’s bed. She was “dying” again in a way where I was allowed to be there, but she looked at peace. I told her I was sorry that I couldn’t be there in time. She told me not to worry and that she was okay. She said she had to leave and that she loved me. I told her I loved her and kissed her on the forehead and she disappeared. I woke up and my lips felt like electrical currents were running through them. I was crying tears of joy because I knew in my heart it wasn’t a dream — and my “official” grieving process ended. I knew she was at peace, and there is nothing anyone on earth can say to make me believe otherwise.

There are other ways the dead sometimes communicate with the living, which I am happy to talk about, but the five points above are tell-tale signs of a visitation dream.

If you’ve had a visitation dream, feel free to share it below. I’d love to hear about your experience. Or, if you just have questions about dreams in general, then I’m happy to talk about that. Regular readers know that I am a lucid dreamer.




  1. I used to put it down to coincidence but I am frequently visited by my Mother in dreams when I have a big or difficult decision in real life.

    I used to think it was my subconscious but I am becoming more convinced that it is her spirit visiting me

    1. I would say that on some occasions, that may very well be the case. I’ve had two dreams with my grandmother where I know it was her (those were very early on after she died), and then one where it was a coin flip. All the others seemed like just random dreams to me.

      The best way to really be sure is to gauge how vivid the dream was, and how you felt when you woke up.

      I’m not sure how all of that stuff works, but my guess is that a person’s openness to something like that happening probably has a lot to do with whether or not it does happen. Obviously there are instances where even a skeptic can be shaken, such as the doctor in the Psychology Today article I referenced, but having receptivity to a visitation dream has to make it easier for the person trying to communicate. I don’t visit psychics, but I’m willing to bet they would agree with me.

      It’s unrelated to this post, but there is a very good book by Gerard J.M. Van Den Aardweg titled “Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory” that I may review. These are much rarer than dream visitations…but still incredibly fascinating.

    2. I have had dreams over the years of close friends, and relatives that have passed. In two instances, there was no possible way I could know they were gone, until inquiry after the dream. The dreams are always very real, and emotional. In one dream I was even given the date through imagery of the particular persons passing though in reality, I had no way of knowing that information. I was even told the year I would pass on from a nun who stood at the foot of my bed when I was a young boy. I attended a young nuns funeral as a boy, and can only speculate that this was her speaking to me. It terrified me at the time which is probably why after over 50 years, I still recall it like it was yesterday. Any thoughts?

    3. Very interesting, Jay. Thanks for taking the time to share your story. What I always find fascinating about stories like yours is that so many people would dismiss them. If you have a clean bill of mental health and you’re a stand-up guy with no reason to lie, why would people dismiss the stories? It’s bizarre — particularly since so many people experience the supernatural.

      I think the key take-away of experiences like yours is for the person to essentially get right with God. It’s a message that translate: “Yep. One day you’re going to step into eternity and it’s a good idea to live life with that in mind.”

      I hope you’re around for many years to come, but it sounds like you’ve been given a few blessings in terms of forewarnings about the afterlife — it clearly exists and we should all have that in mind with each breath. Tomorrow is never promised.

      Thanks again for stopping in and sharing your stories. I do appreciate it.

  2. I had a dream on scottish referendum night about a spirit who came to my bed and whispered something uplifting in my ear…no audible words passed from her lips, but I felt reassured regardless. Mind you, next morning I woke to find we hadn’t achieved independence, so maybe the message was to stay calm and certain in a period of uncertainty.

    1. Hmmm. Well, I can speak on dead relatives and guardian angels, but I don’t think I could comment on that one. Tell the spirit that whispering isn’t allowed if you can’t understand what she’s saying. 😉

    2. My reading, based on what little I know of the details, is that it was probably just a really weird dream. There seems to be too much confusion as to who or what it was, there wasn’t a clear message, and you didn’t come away with it with a profound psychological or spiritual change.

      Was it a “high-definition” dream? My own, and from what I’ve gathered from others with similar experiences, is that such dreams also seem more real than reality…if that’s possible. I think that’s because everything is so crisp and clear and you’re hyper-aware of what’s going on around you.

  3. A few months after my father died I had a dream where he appeared to me. Sounds really corny but he did have a white light behind him. He had his best suit on and looked really well and healthy and happy. He simply hugged me and said goodbye. It was so real. Anyway there is more. Before he died, the last time I saw him I said goodbye and drove away back to where I lived. I had driven quite a few miles when I got stuck in traffic on M25. I had this “feeling” to turn around and go and see him again to talk to him. I turned his doorstep again with my father looking surprised. I then proceeded to tell him how I loved him and I would be there for him. My father had suffered from a mental health problems most of his adult life. He also was a Christian and his faith gave him much strength and hope I’m certain. I believe now it was God that told me to visit him again the last time and it was for this reason my father visited me in a dream to say good bye and let me know something very important. There is an afterlife and there is a heaven.

    This is still not the end of my account of dreams of deceased family members. After my father died my brother in law got sick with cancer. Very dangerous form of cancer. He was only in his forties and was not ready to go. Anyway he fought the illness very bravely but sad lost his battle for life and died at home after only a few months. After he had passed away I dreamt he visited me is but this dream was very different. It was very dark and he looked very sick! He was shouting at me and was very angry. I was terrified. I was a grown man in my 30’s but I was scared I was calling out for my mother. He was in a place of absolute terror and fear and absolutely no hope. My conclusion of this the dead really do visit the living in dreams and what choices we make in this life is very important for the next.

    1. Thanks you for taking the time to share your stories with me, David. I really appreciate it!

      “I believe now it was God that told me to visit him again the last time and it was for this reason my father visited me in a dream to say good bye and let me know something very important. There is an afterlife and there is a heaven.”

      I’m a tad biased, but I think you are spot-on with your conclusion. 🙂

      One book that you may be interested in, given your second story, is “Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory,” by Gerard J.M. Van Den Aardweg. I was pretty impressed with the author’s work. I will pray for your brother-in-law’s soul tonight.

  4. My lovely grandad died nearly 3 years ago. Within a couple of weeks of his death, I had a visitation dream, Iv no doubt about it – once and once only and Iv NEVER experienced anything like it. I can remember the visit from start to finish – I walked straight into this room, full of white light, exuding everywhere, it felt and looked so peaceful. I looked over to my right and my grandad was sitting there, playing a board game, moving the pieces around the board. He himself was exuding of this white energy and it was everywhere. I walked towards him & he looked straight into my face. We locked eyes, intensely for only a few seconds, I can see his face so clearly, he looked great. He died at 84 from cancer. He gave me his usual grandad smile then disappeared. It was short but direct and I woke up knowing I was with him, Just for those moments. My mind has expanded ever since.

  5. I would like your opinion on my experience…well I live in europe and have been away from america for many years….my very close aunt who I had a bond that cant be replaced passed recently…..i wanted to know what was after death…..and so a few days ago prior to going to sleep…i said a prayer asking my aunt to appear in any shape or form that evening…even in my dream and if she would do so on that specific night I would never doubt that she is around me….as I slept I had a dream of being in a plane….and just then my aunts voice told me…dont go that way…go to (city name withheld)….thats where you will find your fortune and prosperity….suddenly I was at a beach looking at sea with rocks inside the calm clear water….i then saw her walking with my wife up a narrow sidewalk going up a hill with btight lights….and then we all entered a shoe store…she wanted a specific pair of shoes….which were sold out….i woke up…and was later told by my brother that the city she mentioned has ties to her ancestors roots and that the seas there are full of rocks…something I wasnt aware of….what does this all mean
    Thank you…

    1. Hi Angelo,

      Thanks for sharing your story. It’s tough to say exactly without knowing much about you, but I would say that perhaps the “fortune and prosperity” she was talking about wasn’t material in nature due to the location’s ties to your ancestral roots. Perhaps she was talking about historical, intellectual and spiritual treasures that come from knowing your family’s heritage…where they came from, etc. When someone knows where they’ve come from — truly knows at a deep level — that in many ways gives them a very important point of reference as it pertains to moving forward into the future.

      People who do not know who they are and where they came from our often like lost satellites drifting in space. If you know the circumstances that made your aunt so special to you, then it will help you to recreate and expand on those conditions in your own life.

      That’s my quick take. Again, I don’t know all the details of your life and relationship with your aunt, but that’s my knee-jerk reaction to the dream.

      Side note: I’m not exactly sure what to make of the shoes, but given the context of this dream I’d note the importance of having the right pair of shoes for any journey. If you take the wrong pair of shoes into the mountains, for instance, your feet are going to get torn up…frost bite, etc. If you take the wrong pair of shoes onto a trek through the city, then you’re going to get blisters and things will get very painful in short order. To me, I think the shoes stress the importance of being prepared for whatever endeavors your undertake in the months and years ahead. Again, I would be open to the idea that the “treasures” your aunt spoke of were not material in nature.

  6. I have had 2 “spiritual” events but had never had a visitation dream. I’m also the person who thinks she could connect to spirits but doesn’t really want to — and I’m also convinced most psychics are con artists who are preying on people who are vulnerable. So I’m a bit of a skeptic!

    A few years ago, my husband had brain surgery & a few months before surgery, the neurosurgeon’s father passed away. I had never met the docs dad but the neurosurgeon & I have become rather close as my husband’s care has become complicated.

    A few weeks ago, I had a visitation dream BY THE FATHER OF THE NEUROSURGEON. It was spectacularly vivid; detailed; vibrant. He never spoke a word but somehow imparted so much! He was younger than when he passed; glowed brilliantly with health (not a glow from “light” but from pure health); and was 100% calm/accepting/peaceful.
    He wanted me to understand his complete love for his son. I said I understood & used a board to show with a crayon/marker. He insisted it was more than what I knew so I expanded to the entire screen/board. He was impatient (?) and took me and “showed” me because he knew my understanding was limited by this world so he couldn’t explain. Quickly, he showed me the vast infinity of his love — forward then backward, then left to right in a dessert. When I tried to respond with astonished understanding, he didn’t stop — he added “AND to here”, showing me brilliant particles/cells from his extended hand.
    So, in a flash, he showed me his spectrum of love for his son: large to small.
    I wanted to say “but aren’t you deceased?” AND I wanted to tell him what a great doctor & man his son was. I knew, somehow, that he was fully aware of this but I was going to tell him anyway. I took 3-4 steps toward him & I vanished into another dream. But I was not upset that I wasn’t able to tell him — he already knew. And he was there to communicate TO me, not to hear from me. And as soon as he could make his point, POOF, he was gone! I almost felt like he was on a timer — that he could only hold the communication port open so long so time was of the essence.

    I’m 1000% convinced I was visited. I can tell you about tiny details: his tan, eyes, arms, hair on his arms, buttons on his shirt, etc. It was TOTALLLLLLLY wild.
    So — knowing the doc may very well think I’ve gone crazy — I told the doc about the dream & he wasn’t surprised! Actually, I’m not the first person he’s visited…I’m at least the 3rd!

    So why me???? I never met him!
    And why him — why wouldn’t it be my mom, dad, or brother?
    I did feel like I HAD to tell the doc — I think it was a gift meant for HIM. But, truth be told, I wish my own family would get busy cuz this guy has figured it out!!!

    The dad of the neurosurgeon was a neurosurgeon, too. I find it intriguing that he’s found a way to pry open the sleeping psyche & communicate past the veil.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Kelly. I really appreciate it. The fact that your dream was so vivid and unlike any other dreams you normally experience is a tell to me that something more was at work — even if we don’t get how it all works. 🙂 If someone doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t have a drinking problem, has no psychological problems, etc., and then they have this high-definition dream that lasts with them for years…it’s bizarre to me how others can just shrug it off and say, “Eh. Who knows?!”

      You asked: “So why me???? I never met him!”

      Answer: Excellent question, but you obviously were a.) open to such a dream happening, and b.) literally followed through by contacting his son. So…we can’t argue with the dad’s results if we’re operating under the premise that this was actually his dad in spirit. I have family members who are religious, but for some reason when it comes to supernatural experiences they’re not really too interested in hearing about them. There’s always the “he’s just imagining things” vibe. My guess is that if God is going to allow such a special grace, the relative is not going to waste it on someone who would say, “Huh. Weird dream. Zzzzzzzz.” Heh. I can see the father on the other side of the veil with a Charlie Brown scream: “Arrrrrrgh!”

      You also asked: “And why him — why wouldn’t it be my mom, dad, or brother?”

      Answer: Again, if the mission objective was to make sure that the message got to its intended target, then it appears as if the father knew exactly what he was doing. That’s kind of cool that you would be entrusted with such a special message.

      Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to read and comment! I really appreciate it. God bless! 🙂

  7. I am certain I had a visitation dream recently. I am convinced it had all the characteristics of the visitation dreams you described. I am a devout Catholic, and I believe in the communion of saints. And I firmly believe this visitation is proof of that.

    My mother passed away five months ago, of an unexpected heart attack. She was just a few weeks shy of her 88th birthday, and although he used walker for balance, and had become stooped and bent over from osteoarthritis, she was otherwise in good health. I was always close to her and have missed her greatly.

    My dream was that I was in the kitchen of my house; my mother was an amazing cook and spent a lot of time in my kitchen, especially during the holidays. I was on the floor on my hands and knees trying to scrub something that had spilled on the floor. I heard my mom’s voice say something along the lines of “If you try [can’t remember what she said the product was], that should work better.” I looked up and she was standing there. But in my dream, she was no longer bent over – she was standing straight, and looked much younger. She was smiling and I had the sense of a white light shining from behind her. I exclaimed, “Mom!”, got up off the floor and moved toward her to hug her. But she held her hand out to stop me, signalling that I should not touch her.

    “I just wanted to tell you that everything is fine,” she said. I waited for her to say more, and when she did not, I somehow understood that was all she could say. I also understood that having delivered her message, she was now going to leave. I asked her: “Mom, will you come and visit me like this again?” She replied, “No, I can’t do that.” “Well, will I ever see you again?” I asked. “Oh, yes,” she replied, “but not for awhile.” She was then gone – and so was the light.

    I was so happy and relieved to know she was well and happy. And, yes, I have never had a dream that was in such high-definition. I know it was her. I know I was visited. And I know Heaven is real.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Tom! That is truly beautiful and I’m so happy for you that you were able to see your mother again. What a blessing! Indeed, Heaven is real. 🙂 Again, thank you.

  8. Hello Douglas,
    Carol, my passed on 11/06/2020. Today, 11/13/2020, her funeral service was held. I am writing about what happened last night. I heard Carol’s voice say loudly (she had to wake me): “Chip! I vanished.” When I heard her say my name , I was aware of being in that state just between sleep and awake. After I called to the point that I could try to return to sleep, I rolled into my right side then:
    – I swung my left arm over and it landed on Carol.;
    – I then reached down to her side and felt her arm. Then,
    – I checked and made sure it was neither the pillow not one of the dogs.

    I am interested in learning your take on this.

  9. Hello Douglas,
    Carol, my wife, passed on 11/06/2020. Today, 11/13/2020, her funeral service was held. I am writing about what happened last night. I heard Carol’s voice say loudly (she had to wake me): “Chip!” I responded ” What? ” then she said “I vanished.” When I heard her say my name , I was aware of being in that state just between sleep and awake. After I calmed to the point that I could try to return to sleep, I rolled into my right side then:
    – I swung my left arm over and it landed on Carol.;
    – I then reached down to her side and felt her arm. Then,
    – I checked and made sure it was neither the pillow nor one of the dogs.
    I do not recall dreaming for the rest of the night.

    I am interested in learning your take on this.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Charles. That strange state between sleep and full-consciousness is a tough one. It’s difficult to explain, but I think that it’s almost the moment in time where we can notice the veil between the spiritual world and the physical world. I’ve had some very beautiful and very scary experiences there.

      If you believe your wife was really talking to you, then I’d suggest the key takeaway is that consciousness doesn’t end with the death of your physical body. That’s incredibly calming for anyone who hopes to see their loved ones again on the other side.

      I’m a little confused by the “I vanished” statement. If God allowed your loved one the grace of reaching out to you for a brief moment, then I would expect a different message. I’m also extremely hesitant to Monday Morning Quarterback someone who has passed away. It could be incredibly difficult for a soul to utter anything that is heard on this plane of reality, let alone organize a string of coherent thoughts.

      I hate to be negative, but it’s also within the realm of possibility that demons could exploit a man’s grieving process to confuse him, lead him to fortune tellers, etc. That’s not a road to ever go down. It’s very dangerous.

      Regardless, God permitted you to have the experience and there’s a lesson to be had in it somewhere. I’m inclined to think a good lesson is that Carol as you know her still exists and that there is a high probability that you will see her again when God calls you home.

  10. In may of 2016 we lost our daughter to a tragic car accident. The grief that has come from this has been in many ways more than what I can take, but a few weeks after our oldest daughter death I had a visit, I had been on a bike ride with a friend in the dream and we had stopped for a break, we entered in to a gift shop, The shop had things like t-shirts and mugs and the walls were covered in really pretty dark walnut paneling. As i walked around through the shop a Older lady appeared and motioned for me to follow her so i did and we walked down a hallway to a waiting room, as we rounded the corner in to the waiting room the lady turned to look at me befor exiting outside she was my mother who had passed years before. she pointed to a chair to my left and seated in the chair was my daughter, she was dressed in a white pant suit and was holding a blond hair girl. The baby we had lost 5 years before. She was letting me know she was ok and was with her sister and grandma.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Stephen. I really appreciate it, and I’m sure future readers of this blog will also be thankful as well. 🙂

  11. When my grandma died, I felt a presence in my room. I felt someone pull the covers over me. When I opened my eyes and looked around, there was no one there.

    I know I didn’t do it. I know my mom didn’t do it; she came downstairs to tell me the news after this happened. I believe it was my grandma tucking me in one last time, like she used to do when I was a little kid.

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