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  • Writer's pictureBryan Williams

A Mother's Warning from Beyond the Grave?

It has been said that "love knows no bounds," particularly when it comes to the loving bond that a mother shares with her children. One might even be led to wonder: Could there be times when that love is even capable of exceeding the boundary between life and death? As one consideration of this, there have been a number of accounts people have given in which they claim to have received communication from a deceased loved one (such as a parent) [see, e.g., 1 - 3], and in some of these, guiding information was seemingly conveyed by the deceased loved one that later turned out to be useful in saving someone from danger. One example comes from Louisa Rhine's extensive collection of reports of ostensible psychic experiences, in which a young soldier seemingly received a warning of danger from his deceased mother during a wartime situation. The account, which appeared in Rhine's classic 1961 book Hidden Channels of the Mind, went as follows: A young American in the Air Force during World War II....had entered the service several years after his mother's death, and was now a tail gunner in a B-29. He had been flying on missions over Europe, and one night he and his crew were returning to their base after completing a bombing mission. All the crew except the pilots were asleep when in a dream the gunner saw his mother standing on the tip of one wing of his plane. She was dressed in white flowing robes and calling his name, warning him of danger. She begged him to awake, that danger was very near.

Illustration of the young Air Force gunner's dream experience of seeing his deceased mother on the wing of his plane, uttering a warning of danger. [Image source: Ref. 4, p. 18; illustration by Jael.]

Her voice was far away and echoed in his dream - yet it was so realistic he find a German fighter plane flying directly above their B-29 and out of vision of the pilot or copilot. With the rest of the crew asleep, no one had known the enemy was there. The gunner wakened his companions and they were able to fight off the plane before any damage was done. He felt that had it not been for his mother's warning, neither he nor his crew members would have escaped. [2, p. 230] Although they don't seem to be very common, seeing deceased individuals in one's dreams isn't really too unusual. One survey study of this phenomenon [5] seems to indicate that there tends to be four themes to such dreams: 1.) The deceased individual seems to come back to life in the dream and may express a desire to discuss the circumstances surrounding his/her death with the dreamer; 2.) The deceased individual seems to convey a parting sign or message to the dreamer (as a means of saying "good-bye"); 3.) The deceased individual seems to offer vague hints to the dreamer regarding the condition of the death state (such as what heaven or the afterlife is supposedly like); 4.) The deceased individual seems to offer some advice to the dreamer. It's possible that these themes may often stem from any lingering, unresolved grief the dreamer may have regarding the deceased individual's loss, and/or certain troubling circumstances occurring in the dreamer's life which may be preoccupying his/her mind. In such a case, the dream may simply be a consoling construct of the dreamer's imagination. However, what is unusual is when the dreamer seems to receive information from the deceased individual in the dream that he or she is personally unaware of, and which is later verified as being accurate. This is much harder to account for in terms of simple imagination, and perhaps in those instances, something more intriguing may be at work. It seems that such instances are still occasionally being reported today - for instance, Dr. Stanley Krippner has recently reported on a series of dreams in which a woman seemingly obtained details relating to deceased soldiers that were later verified by a friend of hers (a military chaplain who'd known & served with those deceased soldiers) as being accurate [6 - 7]. Apart from ostensible communication with the deceased on "the other side," it's also possible that the accurate information which the dreamer receives in these kinds of unusual dreams could've come about through extrasensory perception (ESP) of the living realm. For instance, the young soldier may have become aware of the impending danger to his plane through his own clairvoyant awareness of the approaching German fighter. The information regarding the deceased soldiers that the woman acquired in her dreams could've possibly been received through a telepathic link with her friend (the military chaplain who'd known them). Alternate viewpoints such as these would seem to be equally worthy of consideration in light of the extensive amount of experimental evidence which seems to point toward the possibility that ESP can occur in the dream state [8]. And so while it currently isn't easy to tell which of these two possibilities (communication with the dead on "the other side" vs. ESP of the living realm) is more likely, unusual dreams like those experienced by the gunner and the woman would seem to pose intriguing anomalies, in any case. ********* References: [1] Arcangel, D. (2005). Afterlife Experiences: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Experiences. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc. [2] Rhine, L. E. (1961). Hidden Channels of the Mind. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc. (See Chapter 15) [3] Feather, S. R., & Schmicker, M. (2005). The Gift: ESP, the Extraordinary Experiences of Ordinary People. New York: St. Martin's Press. (See Chapter 11) [4] Emert, P. R. (1992). Ghosts, Hauntings, and Mysterious Happenings. New York: Tor Books/Tom Doherty Associates. [5] Barrett, D. (1991-92). Through a glass darkly: Images of the dead in dreams. Omega: Journal of Death & Dying, 24, 97 - 108. [6] Krippner, S. (2015). Dreams from another dimension? Journal of Near-Death Studies, 34, 108 - 123. [7] Krippner, S. (2017). A unique partnership: Examining information in dreams about deceased veterans. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 81, 180 - 193. [8] Storm, L., Sherwood, S. J., Roe, C. A., Tressoldi, P. E., Rock, A. J., & Di Risio, L. (2017). On the correspondence between dream content and target material under laboratory conditions: A meta-analysis of dream-ESP studies, 1966 - 2016. International Journal of Dream Research, 10, 120 - 140.

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