Grandmother’s Goodbye

Genre: Folk Narrative – Ghost Story


“My dad once told me a story about an experience he had with a ghost. My dad was really close with his grandparents; he spent a lot of time over at their house when he was younger and as a child, he had these really weird dreams where his grandmother would appear to him. In the dreams, she was just sitting on a stool beside his bed and talking to him.

“When I was around ten years old, my great-grandmother, his grandmother, passed away. But my dad told me he had one of those dreams the night she died: in his dream, he was a child again as he was looking at her, and just as she always did in the dreams, she was sitting on a stool and talking to him. But he had a feeling that this dream was different. Although he doesn’t remember the details of the conversation he had in the dream, when he woke up, he felt a visceral change and later discovered that that was the night she passed away.”


“My great-grandparents on my dad’s side, around when I was ten years old or so, were dying of Alzheimer’s and they needed a caretaker. It was a really big burden on my family, and I remember my dad talking about them a lot during that time because he had a really deep connection with his grandparents. He spent a lot of time with them growing up, and he even ended up remodeling their house and turning it into his parents’ house, which is where my grandparents live now. I think my dad’s dreaming of them was a representation of the deep emotional connection they shared. I think he really felt a change in that connection the night his grandmother died, and I like to think of that dream as her way of saying goodbye.”


Although I am skeptical about the idea of a truly prophetic dream, I think this is an example of how dreams can sometimes help someone process an ongoing trauma or complicated emotions. The informant explained that his great-grandparents were dying of Alzheimer’s, which is a slow end. It is possible that the informant’s father dreamed about conversations with his grandmother as a way of processing this difficult mental condition, and only after hearing news of his grandmother’s death did he feel that, at the time of the dream, he felt that he knew she had died at the time. Memories are notoriously faulty and dreams even more so, which is why I personally believe that this was not a ghost the informant’s father envisioned the night his grandmother died, but merely a way of his brain processing the difficulty of losing a loved one.

Another idea to consider is the fact that the informant’s paternal family is Mexican. Ghosts are prevalent in Mexican culture, particularly the ghosts of loved ones (as seen in holidays such as Día de los Muertos). It is possible that this cultural background influenced the informant’s father to be more inclined to believe in a supernatural explanation for his dream/ghost rather than a scientific one.