I Dream Of My Late Ex-husband

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I got married 30 years ago. It was not a great marriage in that he never really respected me and could be verbally unpleasant. However, we had many wonderful times together and I do not regret the marriage at all.

After eight years, we separated (his choice, I was devastated) but kept spending time together. He was diagnosed with cancer and I still went to medical appointments with him, which he welcomed, and he kept asking me for help with various things (for example, doing his laundry, which I did happily). He divorced me nonetheless and died several months later. It’s been more than 20 years and I still have dreams, fairly often, in which we are about to get married again. Sometimes there are very elaborate wedding preparations, and I try to think I am happy about it, but in my mind I am thinking “NO! Not a good idea.”

I live now with my cats and never want to marry again, so why do I dream that I am remarrying my dead husband?

– These Dreams


Dreams are chaotic and I will not pretend to understand them. I still have a lot of dreams about my late mother, where we are in familiar places (mostly department stores or my former apartments) and have strange conversations. I like these dreams, even when they’re stressful and about her illness, because it’s a way to remember her – and to remind myself that grief is not linear. If someone is in our lives for a very long time, they don’t go away.

My mom dreams have been more frequent since 2020. Maybe it’s because I see less people. It could be because these years have made me think about important moments in my past. Perhaps all of that has been a contributing factor for you.

I know your marriage was complicated, and clearly there’s resentment about how it all went down at the end. Maybe the wedding symbolizes stress, grief, or a moment when you could have taken another path. Again, I can’t interpret. But you seem to be haunted by these dreams – specifically the wedding piece of it. I wonder, this many years later, if it might be worth joining a bereavement group where you can meet people who’ve lost spouses and understand the complicated ways grief can creep up over time.

Your marriage was unique in that it was over by the time you lost him, but I’ve been to support groups for caregivers and was reminded that even married people who adore each other have complicated relationships. There’s always a nuance. I doubt you’d be the only person who had trouble in your marriage.

You could also talk this through with one mental health professional. I bring up the group setting because it can be healthy – and revealing – to be around others. Do a google search to see what’s available. You can also ask your primary care physician for ideas (assuming you’re not already in therapy).

– Meredith

Readers? Interpret or advise.

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