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Goodnight, Sleep Tight: A Grief Relief Column

As he settled into the bed and nestled the covers around him, he attempted to focus on relaxing and blocking out all of the painful and intrusive thoughts that seemed to pummel his mind every time he tried to go to sleep.  His wife’s death occupied his every waking moment and even though he stayed busy most of the day, there were times when the quiet would just blast through his defense mechanisms and leave him feeling discouraged and heartbroken.  The night time- it was the worst and he was finding it more and more difficult to rest, awaking every morning feeling more exhausted than the day before.

And, even though he tried and he would squeeze his eyes extra tight, he couldn’t conjure up her face or his voice.  In vain, he welcomed dreams to invite themselves in so that he could at least envision dancing with her one more time or smelling the sweet fragrance of her hair as she brushed by him, but they were absent and as elusive as the soothing balm of restful sleep.  Missing her was so painful, but even though it hurt him terribly to not have her physically present with him, he knew how much she had suffered and he had stood helplessly by and watched as she grew frail, weakened by the disease that riddled her body.  He would be selfish for wanting her back in that condition, for hoping that she was still here, and yet, he understood that feeling these things was a normal part of grieving.

Friends told him that she was “better off” and that she was “no longer in pain”, and even though he knew this and it did provide some level of comfort, he wished that he could at least dream about her and be encompassed in the memories of the happy times they shared together.  He didn’t think this was too much to ask, this small request, and he hoped with all of his heart that tonight would be different, that she would appear and take his open wounds and close them with her love.

And then the miracle of all miracles happened as he saw her walk into the room.  She was standing tall and upright, her gait strong and body filled with confidence as she approached him.  Reaching down, she gently took his hand and held it firmly in hers, her blue eyes imploring him to understand that she was still here with him, that she was healthy and whole without a single ailment- and her smile lit up the room.  It was at this moment that he understood that he was healing, that she had appeared in his dreams to help him understand that he was going to be ok, and his heart burst with the ever conflicting emotions of joy and sadness at the same time.  He missed her so much, and yet, here she was giving him this most precious gift- the gift of knowing that she would always be with him, even if it was only in his dreams. And, as she kissed him sweetly, he awoke with his heart unburdened and lighter, his grief still a significant part of him, but his strength returning, his mind and body receiving the reboot that he so desperately needed.  Turning back the covers, he faced the day with a smile knowing that dreams really do come true.