Los Angeles Times

Exorcising her dreams

- Email questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: When I was in my early 20s, I dated a guy and fell in love. He broke up with me abruptly and I was brokenhear­ted.

For years I felt like we had unfinished business. The rational part of my brain told me that actions speak louder than words — he broke up with me and he never made any real attempt to initiate a reconcilia­tion. We moved to different cities, I met and fell in love with my now-husband, and, for over a decade, my ex has not been in my life at all.

My problem? Every six months or so, he appears in my dreams. There are usually powerful feelings of love and longing in these dreams, and I wake up feeling sad and wistful. I love my husband and have a pretty great life, so I don’t understand why this person haunts me.

Surely the dreams and the feelings are not really about this guy, right? How can I get rid of him for good? Stop Haunting

My Dreams

Dear Stop Haunting: The rational side of your brain understand­s these long-ago events. But your subconscio­us is trying to tell you something — and it will continue until you turn the dream inside out and decode its meaning.

Look for patterns occurring around when you have this dream. Are moments of stress in your marriage (or other relationsh­ips) bringing this on? Write down a detailed account of the waking period preceding the dream.

Also write a detailed descriptio­n and script of the dream. (Writing helps to open your mind, prompting thoughts and memories).

My theory is that this dream is about the unrealized possibilit­ies of youth. Your first love might represent other relationsh­ips or opportunit­ies that in your mind remain unfinished or unfulfille­d. Because of the abruptness of this breakup, you might have been left blaming yourself. Let yourself off the hook. Facing and accepting unmet goals or unfinished relationsh­ips, and forgiving yourself for your actions or reactions, should help you to write a new ending for this dream.

Dear Amy: My dear grandma recently passed in a rather traumatic way. This has been devastatin­g for our family (I’m an adult.)

One of my best friends attended the funeral, which meant a lote. Another friend didn’t attend, and expressed her sympathy via text.

My sister thinks it’s unnecessar­y for a friend to attend a service if they didn’t know the relative who died.

Am I old-fashioned?


Dear N: You’re not oldfashion­ed; you’re grieving.

Experienci­ng a loss like yours is often the primary way that any of us learn how important it is to show up for a funeral. People are weird about funerals. Either they don’t know, don’t understand or are averse to attending a funeral.

After a traumatic loss, survivors may fixate on those who don’t show up. Now that you’ve been through this, you understand that funerals honor the deceased but are for the survivors.

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