Near Death Experiences / Afterlife Studies/Death, Dreams, & Family Members
My sister's first-born daughter died 11 hours after she was born. It was devastating. Not long after, my sister told me our (also previously deceased) grandmother came to her in a dream, although she said it seemed real and not like a dream. My sister said my grandmother looked young and perfect, not at all how she looked when she died. My grandmother gently touched my sister's face, said the name of my sister's deceased daughter, and told her that she (the baby) was there (presumably heaven) with her (our grandmother), and that everything was okay. My sister was somewhat comforted by the "dream." Is it possible that this was not really a dream but a "visit" from my dead grandmother in an effort to comfort my grief-stricken sister? I have heard that some people believe that in heaven, we are young and perfect, so this would make sense if it were not a dream. Also, my sister and I never saw my grandmother as young as when she appeared in the dream. But somehow my sister knew it was her. Any thoughts?
Thank you for writing to me at All Experts / Near Death Experiences / Afterlife Studies with your question. Let me offer my condolences to your sister and all of whom have been touched by this sad event. My heart is with you. I often walk thorough cemeteries, especially the older ones, because of the sense of peace and serenity that I feel there. But I never feel comfortable when in the children's section. As long as I have been studying this subject I can never get over the emptiness nor find an answer to the question, "Why?'.
When I answer concerns such as yours my usual approach is to offer more than one possibility regarding the phenomena at question. Ethics will not allow me to answer from a biased point of view, hence I have to put my personal beliefs on the back burner, for a while anyway. My first approach to your questions will be from a more scientific perspective.
The lose of a child has a severe emotional, psychological and physical impact on the family, in particular the mother. The stress is tremendous. She will take awhile to come to terms with the passing, and may never completely "get over" it. Along side this is the possibility that she is suffering from PPD [Postpartum Depression] big time. There is a chance that your sister may become depressed to the point of hospital care. Watch for signs of manic symptoms such as losing sleep, changes in habits and changes in eating patterns for example. It is known that bereaved mothers have an 80% chance of developing some sort of psychological condition within the first year of the child's passing.
Looking at the stress involved one can not rule out parasomnia sleep disturbances as a factor of the vision. Stress, and loss of a child is a major one, can cause havoc with the sleep cycle. This is usually the case when a person tells me that they had an experience in bed, such as, "I woke up and saw...". The cause is most likely a hypnopompic hallucination. These can be extremely vivid and usually are visual in effect, with faces and people being the most common hallucination. Another possibility of the occurrence may have been due to a phenomena known as a false awakening, where one is awake physically and aware of their surroundings, but are mentally still having a vivid dream. People have even been know to go about their daily routine while in this state of consciousness.
So removing my actual viewpoint from the back burner, I personally feel that your sister was in fact visited by the spirit of her grandmother. To be honest, during your sisters's lifetime she has likely heard, read about or watched something relating to such phenomena and that may have played a subconscious role if she had been hallucination. However those antidotes are based on actual occurrences, and in my expert opinion, that is what had happened to your sister, she actually had a 'paranormal' experience. In fact, a common one when one has lost a loved one. [To the cynics, yes, blah, blah, blah... that is why I answered with the leading 'normal and rational" "scientific" reasons.] Spirits, that is to say deceased people who have made the journey into the light and have evolved into spiritual beings [as opposed to ghosts] will often make their presence known to a person in tragedy, despair and grief. These comforting beings are allowed to be given the rare chance to visit the living. If your sister thinks back it is likely that the apparition had a inner "glow" to her. And yes, by all means, she could appear younger as spirits on a norm prefer to appear as they where when they were happiest, bearing in mind that they can change appearance at will. Appearing as youthful, healthy and vigorous, more alive than when they were alive is common in these types of visitations. I recently read in a book about a child's Near Death Experience that where he went everyone was young and nobody wore glasses. I had to smile for in his innocence he spoke the bare truth.
Your sister's daughter was greeted by her spirit guide and predecease family when she died. They took her into the light with them and in doing so prevented her from becoming an earthbound ghost. But this also has another vital and important implication. If you learn anything from this response it should be this. The fact that she was greeted by loved ones and escorted into the light implies that her passing was expected; that her pending death was already known to the spirits. The astral beings of the light would not have been so prepared otherwise.
Your sisters daughter is in the light. There she will be taken care of, learn, grow and evolve. Your sister will eventually see her again, not prematurely I hope. Not only was your grandmother's visitation to sprove that all is fine and well, but to let your sister know that it is okay to heal and to move on with her life. The message is that there is an afterlife so she need not despair, and that your sister is meant to lead her life to the fullest. And that she, as her daughter, is being watched over by guardians, a spirit guide and yes, angels. Incidentally, the light is holy in that it is special and pure, but it also secular. It's open to all.
Your grandmother will not be "hanging around". A spirits intention is not to haunt, harm or frighten. They are pure love and compassion. But every once in a while, one might "feel" there presence. That is nothing to be alarmed at. You can expect her and your sisters daughter to be around at Christmas or other special events, though is is unlikely that they will make themselves obvious. Afterward they will return to the light, as that is their home now.
I honestly hope that I have helped in some way help you see the situation for what it is, something beautiful in the face of grief. I wish you, your sister and family all the best. I'm here if you need more answers or have other concerns.
Director of Parapsychology, Paranormal and Afterlife Studies,
Eidolon Project Canada