Relatives in Dreams

Main Piece: Interviewer: When I was little, I lived with my grandparents. One day at breakfast, my grandfather told me that his mother, who has been dead for years, came to his dream last night. In the dream, she complained to her son that her feet were cold. In the beginning, my grandfather did not understand what she meant, so he decided to visit his mother’s grave. The grave was in the cornfield and the coffin should be covered by straw. When my grandfather arrived, he discovered that the straw at the end of the coffin was shoveled away by someone unknown. Then, he suddenly understood the meaning of the dream, so he put the straw back to the top of the coffin. After that, my grandfather has never received any complaints from his mother.

Background: There are lots of ghost stories in rural China. Many people there state that their dead relatives have come to their dreams to inform their living conditions in the underworld. Then, according to dead relatives’ needs, people burn some money or clothes for their relatives so they could live more comfortably in the other world.

Context: I have heard this story from this interviewer in the past, so this time I just ask her directly when we were having supper together. She was quite convinced and confident about this story because there were some similar dreams happened to her relatives as well.

Thoughts: My aunt used to tell me a similar story of her great grandfather in her dreams asking her to burn some clothes for him. In fact, I did not feel frightened when I first heard these stories. Instead, I thought they were very warm. These stories embody people’s yearning for their dead relatives. We all hope that our loved ones can go to another wonderful world and still communicate with us after death. Therefore, those stories actually comfort a lot of people by making them feel less afraid of death.