Siblings wrecked my sleep last night

I had an intense dream where I was at a family reunion, and everyone was there, including my dead father and dead sister, and weirdly, they’d aged an additional 20 or 30 years as if I’d been totally mistaken about attending their funerals, and they’d been just living their lives while I was oblivious and unaware. Then my baby sister Lisa, who died in her 30s but was now a gray-haired and healthy 52, took offense at my joy at seeing her again and started punching me, battered me to the ground, and was kicking me to death. My father, who was also looking strong, glanced my way and said, “You deserve it”, and then all my brothers and sisters joined in.

That’s when I woke up, totally bewildered by what is going on in my brain. I got to lie there for a few hours wondering what sick guilt was lurking deep in the rotting core of my mind, and what it was trying to tell me, and wondering why I was such a horrible person. Now I’ve got a lot of work to do today, and this worry is going to prey on me all day long. Is there an oneirologist in the house?


  1. blf says

    Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff… now in an alternative Universe, or perhaps a miniscope. Look for a 1960s(-ish) blue British police box.

  2. hemidactylus says

    I often have dreams about my long passed parents. Quite confusing in the manner of how are they there yet recalling they passed. I think I had an argument with my dad over something just last night. Weird. My still alive dog sometimes makes a cameo appearance.

    Recalling LTP literature I read long ago on place memory in rodents, many dreams are place oriented. My wakeful memories are often place oriented. Some technical books or concepts evoke certain places. Maybe I burned through my cortex to the point that only place related neurons remain or place context serves a mnemonic function. Weird stuff.

    I recall having vague feeling tones (sensu Jung) for certain periods of my life. Not so much anymore.

  3. cartomancer says

    I’m not sure this one needs much onierocriticism. Sublimated survivor’s guilt is about all that needs to be said there.

    I often get the same dream, where my friends and I are Robin Hood and his Merry Men. They’re all different characters each time – one time Simon will be Robin, another time he’ll be Little John, another time Friar Tuck etc. Except for me. I’m always “Merry Man 2”. I don’t even get to be a named character in my own dream. What then happens is I have to move out of the hideout and go back to civilisation, because Marian is moving in and there isn’t enough room for everyone (so as a non-named character I have to go). Also, there aren’t enough longbows to go round, so I have to fight with a big floppy branch that can’t hurt anyone.

  4. says

    I’ve remembered my dreams all my life so, of course, I spent a lot of time trying to analyze them. I’ve thrown out the books that say things like: ‘If you dream of ravens it means death’

    Generally, dreams are a reflection of what’s on your mind translated into symbols. I start with the overall feeling of the dream. I’d characterize what you described as an anxiety dream as the overall feeling you mentioned is rejection, guilt, and sublimated happiness. Then I look at the symbols. You had family members who have died return and reject you.

    Using what’s going on in your life – specifically the return to university – I would guess this dream is about your students and colleagues many of whom comprise part of your ‘extended family’. Perhaps this is your mind’s way of working through your anxiety about the upcoming semester; the return of your colleagues from a longer than usual absence. The return of your students and anxiety about how mad they might be about the changes you are required to make all under the umbrella of living in a pandemic; you want to please your students and you may have concerns about whether or not they’ll understand how much you care/worry about them.

    I’m not a professional, but if this was my dream, I’d wake up in the morning and say: ‘Ah, naturally’ then sigh and go about doing what needs to be done. Sending an inet hug if you are amenable; anxiety dreams suck.

  5. stroppy says

    I occasionally still have dreams about my parents — disorienting, usually either wishful in some way or trying to resolve something stressful that has left it’s mark.

    FWIW, I’d go with a oenologist instead.

  6. says

    I seldom remember my dreams in any detail, but it seems I have a penchant for setting them in drastic revisions of reality. During grad school I had a nice basement room near the campus; in dreams I recall it as a garret (how Bohemian!). And the piano was out on the landing instead of in the living room. The math department where I had my office gets melded with Sloan Lab at my undergraduate school, with a disconcerting reconfiguration. The one-story home where I lived my junior year gets confused with the two-story home where I resided my senior year.

    Reality is clearly not welcome in my dreams unless severely edited. But I doubt any “explanation” is required.

  7. KG says

    I often have dreams about my long passed parents. Quite confusing in the manner of how are they there yet recalling they passed. – hemidactylus@3

    That, or similar (where I discovered that they hadn’t died yet, but were in a kind of neither-dead-nor-alive state), was common in my dreams during the first few years after their deaths. Now, nearly 20 years on, when they appear it’s always without any awareness that they are actually dead, and generally I (and siblings if present) are of ages we were when they were still alive. The same is true of two close friends who died.

    My father-in-law, then in his late 80s, had a dream in which he realised he had neglected to visit his mother (naturally, long dead) for years, and felt terribly guilty.

  8. christoph says

    Do you ever have that dream where you’re a donut being chased by a giant banana?

  9. KG says

    Of course you mean the one where you’re a giant banana being chased by a donut!

  10. sdeinbinder says

    Seems like it was a guilt dream. You get to live, but they all died and they are mad at you for outliving them.

  11. bmatchick says

    The person who said that dreams often have to do with places reflect my experience, too. Does anyone take the drug Trazodone as a sleeping aid? It’s an old anti-depressant and taken at low doses it works for me and isn’t addictive like Ambien. But one of the big side effect is that every night I remember (as far as I can tell) everything that I dream. Literally like 5 act movies. Every day is like the director cut of Inception. When I have good dreams I wake up and feel like I’ve been to the planet Pandora from Avitar. If I have bad dreams or nightmares it screws up my whole morning. If I ever stop taking it I may be relieved not to remember everything.

  12. says


    I take Trazadone but, even without it, I remember dream cycles and can recall when dream exchanges happen. I’ve been like that all my life. Unfortunately, I also suffer from PTSD so I occasionally, under medical supervision, take Ambien and alprazolam because I suffer from night terrors. The good news is that I’m in the process to get medical cannabis which is the best thing I’ve found for the PTSD night terror problem. Ambien and alprazolam is the mild elephant sedative setting when the night terrors flare up so badly my mind actively refuses to sleep for fear of the dreams I might have. Down that path lies a spiral into serious mental imbalances; fortunately, I’ve been in constant treatment for over a decade so it’s much more safe and manageable now.

  13. says

    Well, I guess the message is :having been dead for 20 years is better than living through 2020.

    Yeah, I often have dead relatives show up in my dreams. It’s never weird, like thinking “but you’re dead”, and I quite like those dreams. It’s a bit like cheating death and spending some more time with them.

  14. unclefrogy says

    seeing how it is you that was having the dreams I would recommend seeing a orneryologist
    uncle frogy

  15. says

    @#15, Giliell:

    Only provided that they’re pleasant. I had a dream a month or two back about my poor, deceased mother, in which at one point we all realized that this was somehow taking place in the past because she was still present, and from that point onward the tone of the dream changed because she knew, and was resentful of, all the suffering which awaited her, with only death to look forward to at the end. It was the grimmest dream I can remember, nightmares included.

  16. Nomad says

    I’d simply say that this was a Covid dream. I’ve been having them, many vivid, long dreams that sometimes leave me exhausted when I wake up. I’ve heard this from a lot of people. It’s easy to find news stories about it too.

    Sometimes they’re disturbingly violent. One dream involved a room that looked like something out of the most gory horror movie imaginable. I’m talking walls caked with gore, blood pooled on the floor, and most bizarre of all, forced back alley abortions. I have no idea why my subconscious went with that. There was even a racial component that I don’t care to get into, save to say that it felt downright racist, but it was a construct of my brain. And the thing is I didn’t wake up screaming or anything. I woke up and as I came back to reality I realized how messed up that dream was in retrospect.

    All I can say is I think the biological horror of the virus was materializing in my dreams as ultra violence. I’ve mostly stopped having those kinds of dreams, but I still sometimes have long vivid dreams, and I’m still waking up tired. Sometimes the dreams feel fun, they can be exciting adventures, once I was using telekinesis powers to fight attacking evil robots. It may have been fun, but I still didn’t wake up feeling rested. I’ll definitely take that over the violent dreams though. At least it’s not making me fear the inner workings of my own mind.

  17. hemidactylus says

    I don’t know if I’m having COVID dreams. I must say the most disturbing dreams I ever had were after watching Will Smith’s I Am Legend. His dog dying really messed me up. I had a dream arc where I recall not only dealing with scary rabid creature type monsters but trying to protect my dog. Whatever COVID dreams I am having now pale in comparison.

    The dead parent dreams are sometimes weird but so typical that they are background noise that fits some plot like me working with my dad and whatever drama that entailed. Seems many dreams involve driving with my dad on a long trip or being on a cruise ship (odd!!!) or working in some new construction building (place memory???).

    I would rather have those parent still alive (wait what?) dreams than class on my schedule I can’t find until I am late for a test I didn’t study for dreams. Those are less common now.

  18. KG says

    I would rather have those parent still alive (wait what?) dreams than class on my schedule I can’t find until I am late for a test I didn’t study for dreams. Those are less common now. – hemidactylus@22

    I got my PhD in 1988. I still get dreams about having to get my thesis in next week and I’ve hardly started writing… I also, havign retired in 2012, kept getting dreams about being back in work. Oddly enough – I’m now back in work.