search discussions

glow in the woods

front page
the archives
what is this place?
the contributors
comment policy

Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > Grief dreams

Hi everyone my name is Tania. I lost my 23 day old daughter a few weeks ago following heart surgery. Deep down I never expected her to live, since finding out at the 12 week scan, but I always had hope. I hope to get to know you all over time - I'm still at the beginning of this journey and a lot of things I haven't felt yet. I expected a very raw and painful grief, the first day I cried a lot but I was also really busy making plenty of memories to carry with me forever - I sort of planned my grieving and tried to make it easier for myself. I then thought that maybe I was numb or in denial so tried to force myself through that stage by drinking the first few nights after she passed away... But no luck, it seems my mind has decided to let me grieve slowly and gently. It turned out it wasn't numbness, there was no 'waking up' I'm just slowly processing it and feeling everything as and when it comes. I had a couple of nights where I felt my heart was breaking but I pulled myself up and went to bed.
What I notice now is that the past few nights I've had strange dreams, like my mind is trying to process the pain while I'm asleep. In my dream last night I was telling a bartender (while lying on the floor sobbing in the arms of another NICU mum) that 'my baby died'. It was the first time I've been shown that truly awful heartbreaking pain that is inside me. My husband said the last time I miscarried I spent 6 weeks saying the exact same thing in my sleep every night, I would wake up with tears on my face not knowing why, I felt ok during the day - the same as now.

Has anyone had these kind of dreams instead of feeling it during waking hours? Did things get better in time it was it just the tip of the iceberg?
January 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTania
Hi Tania,

I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter. Poor little thing. My daughter died of a heart condition as well, though her death happened while I was giving birth to her.

One thing I've learned is that grief is a force of nature, something that can't be tamed or contained. It has its own pace, and trying to change that only results in distress. It will come when it comes, and we have to learn to work in into our lives.

As for dreams, I seem to be on the opposite side of the same coin. My Nadia died almost 15 months ago, and until very recently, I haven't had a single even slightly unpleasant dream. I generally don't have nightmares, but I do dream of embarrassing or sad situations. Nothing. And then I started working through some tension with my husband now during the Christmas holidays, we started reconnecting (it's hard to stay connected when you're consumed by grief), I started relaxing, feeling loved and safe... and then I started having bad dreams. Three in two weeks. Silly things, like getting zero points on an exam (I guess I'll never outgrow that one), but it made me wonder if there is some check and balance process going on, and if I'm allowing myself some normal fears suddenly. I yet have to see how this develops.

Please keep us posted on how you are doing. The early days can be horrific once it hits you.
January 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAna
Thank you for your reply - I'm so sorry for your loss, I can't imagine how traumatic it must have been. I had a huge fear in pregnancy that my daughter wouldn't make it through the birth, I knew that if I could just get to meet her I would be ok. you're right grief has its own pace, and your mind protects you and drip feeds the grief if it's too much to face in the beginning. A couple of days after she passed away I was speaking to a military guy, ex special forces and he told me I need to go with whatever happens - to ride the waves of grief like a ship on the ocean. I had been so stressed believing that I was not grieving, or was numb, when in reality I had grieved a lot during the pregnancy. In a sense now I'm fighting depression, I refuse to let it happen, but I'm not fighting grief. Let's see what happens I suppose!
It makes a lot of sense that your recent dreams have been because you felt loved and safe again, your mind feels capable of processing normal fears again and not just the overwhelming thoughts you have with grief.
January 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTania
Hi Tania, I am so, so sorry for your loss. It's good that you aren't fighting grief, but that you are fighting depression. I believe that when you fight grief, it turns into depression. And I like the analogy that you got of riding the waves of grief like a ship on an ocean. That is what I am trying to do, too. My dreams haven't been unpleasant, because I think I have consciously been grieving hard and feeling those raw, awful emotions. But, I have noticed that my dreams have become strange and more vivid lately, and I have started to feel more content and calm in everyday life. So I'm not having full on nightmares, but I am having weird dreams. I did have some sad ones here and there of holding my dead son in the hospital (although I didn't actually hold him, I was too deep in shock when he died and I really regret that).

I think when you are consciously feeling grief, your subconscious spares you and you don't have the bad dreams. Because you are having those feelings while awake. Then, on the flip side, once you start feeling better consciously...grief appears subconsciously. Either way, it's sort of a good thing, because you aren't smothering it. We have to feel it, awake or dreaming, as shitty as it is, for it to resolve. :)
January 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNada
Hi Tania, really sorry to hear about your daughter. I lost my son Brandon 3 weeks ago, he was 5 weeks old. I had lots of nightmares, sometimes 2 a night, the first week, and now thank goodness I have some stressful dreams but not really nightmares, a couple of nights ago I dreamt of going back to work, something I am dreading big time, as I am still on maternity leave. I had 2 miscarriages as well prior to Brandon so it feels extra cruel to me how when I finally become a mom we lose our son like that...I am sorry we have that in common as well. Best wishes to you.
January 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCristiane
Hi ladies!
Nada you're right about grief turning into depression if you fight it - that was actually my fear, I thought I was subconsciously fighting it and I was freaking out big time thinking this is going to be delayed and hit me hard, but the reality is it has gotten easier each day and I feel lighter as each day passes. I hope that is healing, but I have no idea as that big overwhelming grief hasn't really hit me. It's just slowly faded and turned into missing her and thinking of her without crying. The only way I can tell that I feel a bit lost is that I'm literally non stop trying to plan escape ideas - starting a company, volunteering in Asia again, that kind of thing - I always do this when I feel lost. On another note the dreams are really having a fine time now - last night I dreamt that I was trying to save a little Syrian refugee girl that was turned down for surgery, I actually laughed when I woke because my baby was half Syrian so not a huge leap to know the meaning there!

Christiane - I'm sorry you lost your little boy Brandon, how are you feeling about it all now? The first few weeks is the strangest really, like it's all new and you don't know what to say... People ask how I am and I reply automatically that I'm fine etc, habit? Or maybe I am.... The toughest is when people ask how many children I have - when will I ever feel comfortable telling a total stranger that I lost a daughter? Seeing other peoples babies - so many painful unchartered territories lately but hoping the first time is the hardest! I totally get you about going back to work - we were supposed to be enjoying this time and suddenly there is an emptiness where before we felt so complete. I have to do my medical internship in September after a year off - I wanted to be an Obgyn but I can't think of anything more painful right now than delivering babies all day. I'm seriously stalling now.
January 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTania