Sleep Grieving – Seriously?!

November 18, 2016

Yesterday, Gman woke up sobbing. He had a dream that he ran into his Daddy’s arms. In the dream, his Dad asked him “Do you want to play?” The dream was so real to him, and so was the harsh reality he awoke to after the dream. All I could do was hold him and cry with him. I tried to reassure him about being able to see his Dad again for real one day. I tried to comfort him, knowing it’s an impossible task. I noticed later that day he had glued this photo into his school planner. Sweet, precious boy.


Unlike Gman, I haven’t had any good dreams about my husband since he passed away. Nearly eight months and not one stinking good dream? Unacceptable. To be honest, I was slightly jealous of Gman’s dream. Or was I? I long to see and hear a healthy version of my husband in my dreams, and yet that is also such a painful thing – to be fooled in sleep only to wake up to realize it was all, well, just a dream.

The only dreams I’ve had involve the horrific scenes from the day he died. Although he had been sick with a degenerative neurological disease, it was actually a freak accident that took his life. Merciful for him, but shocking and terrible too. I wrestle with the irony of it all. Here we were trying to emotionally prepare for his eventual death, thinking we had more time. But God said, enough, my faithful servant. Come home. I’ve got you now. No more sadness. No more suffering. You are home.

I’m grateful for that…for the end to my husband’s suffering. But I’m also profoundly sad he left in such an unexpected way. I guess we would’ve been unprepared regardless of how or when he died, because no matter how you lose the person you love, you’re not ready. How can you ever be ready?  It hurts. It feels cruel and untimely.

Anyway, my dreams aren’t like the one Gman had. My dreams consist of my husband’s last words to me. He wasn’t able to audibly tell me he loved me or pass on any parting vote of confidence in my abilities to handle what was ahead. He didn’t speak any lasting words of reassurance and comfort. They were matter of fact words concerning what had just happened to him. Had he known it would be his last day on earth, I know he would’ve had a lot to say to me. But we didn’t know what the hours ahead would bring.

In my dreams I see his face, hear those matter of fact words. It’s not comforting at all. It’s terrible and traumatic, really. I wish we could control our dreams, select from a list like we do from the TV. Delete the scenes we aren’t interested in storing or replaying and save the memories we want to recall whenever we need them. Is M.I.T. working on that? I hope so.

I’m hoping with more time, we will appreciate good dreams more and that they’ll begin to hurt less. I’m also praying we experience the bad dreams less because grievers need their sleep! Grieving is exhausting work, after all. And apparently it isn’t just day work. I’m going to call it sleep grieving. (Shaking my fists at grief because, seriously?! It’s hard enough when we’re awake)!

I keep looking at the picture Gman glued into his school planner. It’s interesting that my husband’s face isn’t in the picture, and yet the sentiment is so accurately captured. Fear…comfort. See how he’s clinging to his father in the picture? I can’t help but think that’s exactly what we need to do right now, my fellow sleep grievers – and you too, day grievers. We need to cling to our Heavenly Father because there’s nothing we can do on our own to find true comfort as we battle the fears that come with grief, and the pains that come with loss.

I can’t help but think of all of you each time we encounter some new grief thing. So, how are you sleeping? Are your dreams bringing you what you want? If your dreams are affecting you too, let’s cling to our Father and rest in these words He gave for us:

Psalm 4:8 (NIV)

 In peace I will lie down and sleep,

    for you alone, Lord,

    make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 91:5 (NIV)

 You will not fear the terror of night,

nor the arrow that flies by day

 And our ultimate comfort in every situation:

 John 3:16-17 ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not

perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but

in order that the world might be saved through him.


Sweet dreams, my friends.

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  • Reply Tammy November 18, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Beautiful and heartbreaking! Shivers when I read about Gman!

    • Reply Extra Grace Required November 18, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      thank you for continuing to read, Tammy. Please share with any sleep grievers you know.

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