When I dream of a loved one in Spirit, how do I know if it is really them or just my imagination?

QandADear Melanie,

I had a dream of a family member who has recently passed away.  How do I know whether it is really him or just wishful thinking?

This is a great question! Here are some of the ways you can distinguish a “normal” dream from having a visitation from a loved one in Spirit.

Does it feel real? 
When we are being visited by a loved one (often called “a visitation”), the dream feels more real than a normal dream. There is an otherworldly quality or a “realness” that sets it apart from a typical dream. Compared to a visitation, a normal dream feels flat.

Were you aware that you were dreaming?
Instead of being caught up in the story and watching it unfold, you might have had an awareness that you are dreaming and that your body is asleep. That kind of awareness is not typical for a normal dream.

Did you consciously choose how to behave or what to say in the dream?
In most dreams, we watch the story unfold and don’t seem to have conscious power to change what is happening or what we are saying. However, when a loved one visits us, we may find that we are consciously choosing what to communicate with them. We choose what to say and respond to what they are saying, just like in a normal conversation.

Were they a character in your dream, or were they talking directly to you?
Sometimes our loved ones might show up as random characters in our dreams. I don’t count those as visitations. In a visitation, they often seem to be standing in front of us, talking directly to us and giving us meaningful messages.

Did it feel meaningful to you?
It’s very important to trust your intuition. Visitations feel very meaningful. They stay with us when we wake up, whereas normal dreams may be easily forgotten. Visitations may also make us feel emotional – strong feelings of love or connection, for example.


Your loved one may show up in dreams that aren’t visitations, but when they are visiting you, it will feel very different from a typical dream. You will know in your heart that you were given a special visit from them. Also, they visit with a sense of peace. They want you to know they are okay. If you have a dream that your loved one is scared, upset, or unhappy, that is usually showing you a fear you have about your loved one. On the other side, everyone is okay. Your loved one is free from pain and worry. They are doing well.

It is common for people to have visitations in dreams because our minds are often more open to receiving messages while we are sleeping. I recommend keeping a journal of the visitations so you will always have a record of them.

I hope this helps you in distinguishing normal dreams from visitations from your loved ones in Spirit.

Many blessings to you,


P.S. To learn more about how to remember your dreams, check out my article, Dreams: Remembering and Interpreting.

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