By Luellen Hoffman
This is the journey that led me to write my book, Special Dream.
In 1994, my husband Michael died suddenly when he was 43 years old, following gallbladder surgery. He knew he needed his gallbladder out, but like most men he didn’t want to see a doctor, go to the hospital or interrupt his busy work schedule for surgery, until it became an emergency and he had no choice.
Mike was a pretty tough guy and could tolerate high amounts of pain or discomfort. He was also someone who hardly ever took medicine, even a Tylenol because he was always very healthy. The surgery itself was a success, but during the process he received too much anesthesia. The result was Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).
In the first 48 hours after the surgery, we frantically looked for anything to reverse the damage to his lungs, but there was nothing we could do. Eventually, the doctors put him back into a drug-induced coma where he lingered for several days until his heart gave out. It is a very sad story about the demise of a wonderful man. To repeat the story, even now, is hard but I have reached a point where I can share it now without crying.
Shortly after the funeral I was at home sleeping in my bed when I suddenly saw Mike standing on the left side of the bed. The encounter did not feel like a dream or anything I had ever experienced before. He looked right at me and was beaming with happiness. I knew he wanted to tell me something, something important, but I was angry at him for dying. So, with my mind, I told him to just go away, and he immediately did.
I didn’t spend much time reflecting on this strange dream, because I was too busy dealing with a high level of stress due to his sudden death. My two sons were only ten and eight at the time and were in shock.
My family and my in-laws were all grieving too, and one sister-in-law was taking his death especially hard. It seemed like nothing or no one could console her. A couple days after I had my dream about Mike, this sister-in-law called me from her home in Michigan and said she just had a dream about Mike and he appeared to her and talked to her in the dream. She told me he said everything would be okay and that he didn’t want to leave us, but not to worry about him.
I was amazed not so much at her story, but at the sound of her voice! She sounded fine, even happy and excited.
Over the next ten years I searched through dream books to identify this type of experience, but discovered there wasn’t anything written on it. This type of dream didn’t even have a name. All the dream books I found covered the “meaning of dreams,” the “interpretation of dreams,” how to have “lucid dreams,” or how to “remember your dreams.” There was nothing about this particular type of dream experience.
Then I moved my search into psychology books and spiritual books, including the Bible. I also searched the internet to find anything I could that would help me figure out what this dream experience was, yet I could not find a single concrete answer.
In 2006, 12 years after Mike’s death, the idea of writing a book explaining this dream experience came to me. I didn’t care if anyone thought I was crazy, because I knew what I had seen; this dream experience is one that you never forget. That fall I bounced my book idea off a few friends, and to my surprise they liked it. So I began to map out my research and placed small ads in community papers across the nation, searching for anyone who had this type of dream experience. During the next 15 months, I collected over 119 dream stories. The book, Special Dream, was born.
What has fascinated me most about the work is seeing the final collection of everyone’s dream stories together as a group, and how the total collection clearly shows patterns or repetition of certain elements. For instance, several people described how they too saw the person standing at the left side of their bed, just like I had seen Mike in my dream. Another common theme the book brings out is the simple word “okay,” which is the most repeated word to the dreamers.
Intrigued by this fact, I looked up in the dictionary meaning of the word “okay” and it includes being safe and good. So while we may still have many questions about life-after-death and we do not know where our loved ones go after they die, it seems from the dream experiences listed in this book that our loved ones or friends are in a place that is both safe and good – and that is very comforting to know.
For more information about Luellen Hoffman’s work, visit her website at http://www.specialdream.org/.Tags: grief, hope