Crossing Over: Grief to Lucidity

Photo Copyright 2017: Christine Bradley

I suppose it’s only appropriate that I’ve had two scream dreams in the past week. Grief is apparently an incredible catalyst for shadow work.

I recently lost my Kitter cat after 17 years.

This void in my life, this hole in my heart cannot be healed by time or space or change. It can only be accepted as life cruelly moves forward with no regard for my mourning. I don’t think I am quite to the acceptance phase. I still don’t understand how he could be gone after we spent all of my adult life together. He seemed perfectly healthy just a couple of months ago. I still think I hear his little collar bell as he runs around the house. I woke up a couple nights ago from a dead sleep thinking that I heard him meowing.

He has visited me a few times in my dreams since passing. I get to scratch his sweet, little head again. And I know that his spirit is somehow watching over me and my partner and his sister, Cleo. But at the same time, nothing stings more than his epic absence on Earth.

My biggest wish is that he is at peace now, pain-free and on the path to what is next for him.

My first recent scream dream occurred about a week ago as the Moon was freshly new. It was actually a scream dream within a scream dream (first time for everything). In the dream, I am asleep upstairs at the Big House. I am dreaming (in the dream) about a very old wooden cabin. Inside, there is an old wooden table with old wooden chairs. An old woman, like a grandmother, is there. The cabin is being haunted by a known spirit. I begin screaming loudly, “Get out! F*ck you!” And I wake myself up (still in the dream).

I am still in the Big House, and I go downstairs. I sit at a table in the sun parlor with my mother. Suddenly, there is an ambulance with bright flashing lights pulling up in front of the house. I was screaming so loudly that the neighbors heard me and called for help. So, my mother gets up to go outside and talk to them.

I walk into the library, and I am looking up at the top of the stairs. Cleo is standing there.

Then, I am holding Cleo in my arms.

She jumps down, and I begin screaming at nothing at the top of the stairs. “Get out! F*ck you!”

I wake myself up, fully out of the dream. I’m back in waking life. It’s exactly 1:44 a.m.

After I wake up, I practice the Wake-Back-To-Bed technique to induce lucid dreaming with the intention of re-entering the dream and exploring more. I turn a light on. I write down all the details of the dream. I get up and go to the bathroom.

The goal here is to activate/wake up the prefrontal cortex of the brain (which is responsible for lucidity in dreams) while not staying up too long so that you must go through multiple sleep stages before getting back to REM.

I lie back down and repeat over and over and over, “I am dreaming. I am dreaming. I am dreaming.”

As I go through the hypnogogic phase, I try not to get distracted…though it’s difficult. I hear a woman’s voice say, “Do something! Please!”

But I keep going and stay focused. “I am dreaming. I am dreaming. I am dreaming.”

I do not re-enter the previous dream, but I achieve lucidity rather quickly in a new dream. I speak with a young dream guide who appears. We discuss lucid dreams. When my awareness begins to fade in the dream, I remember to shout, “Increase lucidity now!!” And it works. I anchor myself back into awareness.

I remember that you can fly in lucid dreams. I attempt it, but for some reason I cannot quite master the technique. I make a note to come back and try again later.

I shout again, “Increase lucidity now!!” And I anchor back in.

Since I couldn’t quite get flying, I decide that I want to make Kitter or my Papaw appear because I would like to see them.

I shift the scene. I am walking down the hallway in the Little House. It’s super cluttered with stuff, so I am navigating around all the obstacles. Cleo is walking in front of me. She morphs into a full-size, majestic panther. I’m elated! She is so beautiful! A man walks in front of her, leading us both. I never see his front side, but I see that he has long, black hair. We stop in the hall, and I say, “I want to see Kitter! I want to know he is ok!”

He doesn’t appear right away, so I begin crying.

And I wake up.

Despite the sad ending to this dream, I actually wake up with an overwhelming sense of peace. Something about the lucidity is very healing for me. I imagine I could have kept the dream going if I had not gotten so emotional in the moment and woke myself up. So, I definitely plan to explore this practice more.

The second scream dream this past week occurred just a couple nights ago. I’ve been sleeping with my lodalite (shaman dream stone) crystal under my pillow to encourage the dreams to keep going.

I dream that I am in a cabin in the middle of the woods, in the middle of nowhere. A friend from waking life who is also grieving the recent loss of a pet is there as well.

A spirit is haunting the cabin, so I am filming it: a little fireball in the kitchen, moving objects, etc.

I am sitting on the floor in the bedroom with my hands under some bed covers. The spirit’s hands come through the covers and grab onto my hands. Its nails sink deep into my knuckles, easily slicing through my skin. I can literally feel this in my dream, and it hurts.

In a super low, super creepy voice, I wake myself up clearly screaming, “Take them out!”

I check my phone, and it’s exactly 4:01 a.m. My hands hurt so badly that I can barely move them.

It’s interesting to note the theme of the cabin that surfaces during this period of grief: this small, lonely, isolated place. And, of course, a spirit haunts the cabin–I cannot escape the pain of grief. The pain is palpable. I feel it deep inside, through and below the skin.

My shadow wants me to take the time to really feel my pain. It’s important not to suppress what I’m feeling, even and especially if other’s do not understand.

Although I really, really, really do not like this…I am grateful to the support of the process, no matter how much it hurts and how much it terrifies me.

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