Who dreams of the deceased? The roles of dream recall, grief intensity, attachment, and openness to experience.

This research addressed the question of why some bereaved individuals dream of the deceased whereas others do not. Two studies were conducted. In one, participants were 268 U.S. residents (150 men, 116 women, 1 other, and 1 undisclosed), with an age range of 20 to 70 (M = 33.8), who had lost a romantic partner or spouse in the previous 12 to 24 months. The second study had 162 U.S. residents (88 men and 74 women), aged 18 to 63 (M = 32.1), whose dog or cat had died in the previous 6 months. In both studies, participants completed online questionnaires assessing frequency of dreams of the deceased, general dream recall, consistency of dream recall, themes in dreams of the deceased, grief intensity, attachment to the deceased, and the personality variable of openness to experience. Path analyses found that in both studies frequency of dream recall showed direct effects on dreaming of the deceased, and in the pet loss study, grief intensity and openness to experience also showed direct effects. However, in both studies, grief intensity, openness to experience, and attachment all showed indirect effects either through dream recall (in the case of grief and openness to experience) or through grief intensity and dream recall (in the case of attachment). It is also noteworthy that, in both studies, those who recalled dreams of the deceased endorsed more positive themed dreams of the deceased, which contrasts both with “ordinary” dreaming and with posttraumatic dreams. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)