Honour Your Mother and Father

Dreamer, Phillip, 48, North American

I had a dream that I have never had before and have looked for its meaning for some time. I'm hoping that you can help me as this one is so unique to me:

My mother had called me to Germany, to a genetic lab. I, of course, went to see what was so important. When I get there I meet my mother and my father, who has been dead for 16 years. I loved my father with all my worth and his death still to this day hurts me, yet there he was, smiling at me as I remember him. I couldn't believe my eyes. He told me that he was proud of me and that he loved me, those are the only words that I can recall in this dream. The scientist at his lab wanted something from me to keep him alive.

I could not bring myself to give them what they wanted. Because I had lost him once, I didn't want them to take him away again. I have never dreamt of my father before, especially in this manner. He was very dear to me and I will always love him even though I may have told him that, I don't clearly remember it. I always wanted to tell him, and more importantly, I always wanted him to tell me that. When I woke up, I was very disoriented because the dream was so vivid. I wanted to believe that I had reached a point in my life that my father thought that it was time for him to pay me a visit.

Any help that you can give me would be greatly appreciated...

Mr. Hagen's Reply: Honour your Mother and Father

On many grave stones we find written, "In loving memory". Our loved ones never really die as long as we keep them alive in our memory. I am not certain how to interpret the aspect of your dream involving your mother calling you to a genetic lab in Germany... these thoughts must have some personal associations?

You state that in your dream you "couldn't believe [your] eyes." Perhaps your mind is too scientific and rational to be able to keep his memory alive, an emotional ingredient is always necessary. Love is not a scientifically quantifiable construct. Does it grow and develop? Is it a generically important aspect of life and living? You are afraid to give... and therefore cannot receive what you desire the most. Emotion and intuition are based on faith not science and rationality.

When loved ones die, the narrative structures which invariably emerge are the "Eulogy" which is a composition praising the character or life of a person and the "Elegy" a type of lyric poetry which expresses the sense of loss and grief. Freud saw these narratives as being caused by the individual's and the community's "griefwork".

Your defences against loss and emotional pain seem to have led you to protect yourself against such feelings. There is a rhyme... no pain - no gain. Pain (i.e. loss) helps us to grow; we must however look it in its face and realize that it exists for everyone and may be the foundation for all empathy, sympathy and apathy (for those that do not care about others suffering i.e. psychopaths). Pathos, as the Greeks understood, rules our lives if we are unable to rule it.

Your dream seems to end for you on a positive note, in that you are perhaps beginning to honour his memory. A religious way of reading your dream could be applied. In your dream your mother calls you to Germany, and you obey her call, "to see what was so important." The Fifth Commandment God gave to Moses was "Honor your father and you mother." This belief in family still holds true whether you are devoid of religion or a devout believer.

Perhaps one final note, from a popular culture perspective the song Dance With My Father Again by Luther Vandross fits the sentiment of your dream.

To understand more see Peter Homans' "The Ability to Mourn".

Hope these thoughts are of help and provide some insight,
Mark H.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.