My mother spent her last months in a palliative care suite in a long term care facility. I spent many hours at her bedside. This time together was a privilege and a gift. It afforded an immense opportunity for spiritual growth. I took full advantage. Although my mother was conscious and orientated to all three spheres (time, place, and person) to the end of her life, she spent many hours in a trance-like, rapid eye movement state, a state of wakeful dreaming. After wakening from one such dream I said, “Mom, are you dreaming?” She nodded. “I am having the most incredible dreams.” I asked her to tell me of them.
In the beginning her dreams seemed life review–like. She related dreaming of things and events in her life that she was trying to work through and resolve. As she shared the dreams I was able to help her to recognize that some of the dreams were encouraging her to see some events in new ways.
As her illness progressed, the dreams provided a bigger view, an overview as it were, of her life. In one of these dreams she saw herself as a young woman dressed in a beautiful red dress. My dad came to pick her up to take her dancing. The plan was that they were to be driven to the dance. The car never arrived, but my mother kept her red dress on anyway and danced and danced and danced all around the farm.
My parents were married at the start of the depression. My mom was young and beautiful, as symbolized by the beautiful red dress (the color of life and vitality). There was much promise, I am sure, of a life that would be full of music and dancing, but somehow it never happened. Life on the farm was hard, but my mother never stopped hearing the music. She danced and danced and danced all around the farm, for 50 years of marriage. Her dream was, I believe, affirming a job well done.
During her final days the dreams seemed to be more connected to the future that she was seeing than to the life she had lived. She related that her brother Joey, who had died a number of years previously, had come to take her for a ride in an airplane. She expressed immense joy and happiness as she described the fun that they had: “He took me all over. He showed me the most wonderful sights. But then he told me it was not my time yet and that I had to come back.” My mother was being guided gently in and out of her body. When the final time came, she would know the route.
The shift in my mother’s dream life paralleled a shift in her interests. I was cognizant that she no longer desired to discuss the past or to hear about the day-to-day events. The spiritual aspects of her dying had become her singular focus. As we chatted and prayed, it was obvious that, although her gaze was in my direction, I was not the object of her attention. Even though my mother was fully orientated and conscious, she appeared to be intently listening to someone whom I could not see or hear. She would frequently smile and nod as though taking directions, perhaps those that she needed for her immediate future. On one such occasion I dared ask, “Mom, is Daddy here?” She smiled. I asked whether my son Billy was present. She nodded and chided me for my lack of trust in what I already knew to be true.
The assurance that my son and father were present and offering assistance helped me to help my mother to be fully engaged in preparing for her time of transition. They were there to meet her needs, but their presence added another dimension to my own healing. After my son’s death I had an intense longing to mend my family circle. For years my life felt broken, and my family seemed incomplete. Someone was always missing; nothing, it seemed, could fill the void. My father’s and son’s presence at my mother’s side and her sharing of dreams of other family members who came to offer support as she crossed over proved to be the glue that my soul needed to weld generational bonds and mend our family circle.
I offer my mother’s dream narratives and the spiritual transformation that occurred for both of us as we journeyed side by side during her dying as a gift of hope to those who are preparing to leave this dimension. I also trust that in the relating of the sacred moments that my mother and I shared, others will find the courage to be more fully present to the dream life and other spiritual experiences that are unfolding before them when loved ones is brining closure to life.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Jane A. Simington, Ph. D., is the owner of Taking Flight International Corporation and the developer of both the Trauma Recovery Certification Program and the Grief Support Certification Program. She is the president of the Canadian Association of Trauma recovery Providers. Dr. Simington compliments her academic background in both Nursing and Psychology, with an extensive knowledge of alternative and complimentary methods of healing, including the uses of energy-transfer-healing, dream interpretation, art and guided imagery.
Dr. Simington is adjunct faculty at Union Institute and University in Cincinnati Ohio, and St. Stephen’s College at the University of Alberta. She regularly facilitates programs and training sessions for a variety of other colleges and institutes, including Nechi Institute for Training and Health Promotion for Aboriginal Peoples in St. Albert, AB. and Grant Mac Ewan College, in Edmonton, AB. Dr. Simington is a frequent conference presenter, and workshop facilitator. Her numerous professional publications focus on her research and clinical interests in wholistic health, personal empowerment, spiritual well-being, dying, grief and trauma. Her work is featured in her books Journey to the Sacred: Mending a Fractured Soul, and Setting the Captive Free, the booklet, Responding Soul to Soul, the award winning films, Listening to Soul Pain and Healing Soul Pain and on CD’s Journey to Healing, Releasing Ties That Bind, and Retrieving Lost Soul Parts.