This interesting book, Finding Meaning in Dreams: A Quantitative Approach, by G. William Domhoff, is available to read at no cost and without registration on this UCSC website.
In Chapter 9, in the section “Dreams of Deceased Loved Ones”, the author describes the results of a 1992 study by D. Barrett that found there are four main types of such dreams: 1) back-to-life dreams, 2) advice dreams, 3) leavetaking or resolution dreams, and 4) philosophic dreams about the nature of death.
As an example of a resolution dream, the author shares this story from the study:
After my grandmother died, I felt terrible because I had visited her when she was in the hospital but I never went to see her in the hospice. I thought she would be coming home; she died suddenly just when we thought things were getting better. The first thing I thought of when I was told of her death was that I didn’t get to say good-bye or tell her that I loved her. For two months after her death I was tormented by guilt and anger over not saying how I felt to her. However, one night I dreamed that I was awakened by a phone ringing in the hallway upstairs in my house. I got up out of bed and went to answer the phone. As I picked up the phone, the dark hallway I was standing in became fully illuminated. I said “hello” and my grandmother’s voice said “Hello, Sally, this is grandma.” I said “Hi, how are you.” We spoke for about 10 minutes until we were ready to hang up (I can’t recall what we spoke about). Finally, my grandmother said she had to go. I said, “OK Gram, take care, I love you.” She said “I love you too, good-bye.” I said “good-bye.” As I hung up the phone, the illuminated hallway became dark again. I walked back to bed and fell asleep. When I awoke (for real this time) the next morning, and ever since then, I have been at peace with my grandmother’s death.
Domhoff writes: “One striking contingency of these ‘philosophic’ death dreams is the frequent utilization of a telephone as the medium of interaction with the deceased person. Fifty-three percent of the dreams in this category involved telephone calls from the deceased person.”
Rupert Sheldrake: “If, when we’re dreaming while we’re alive, we enter a dream realm which is one where the normal rules don’t apply — the rules of dreaming apply but not the rules of physical life — and if the dead are in a kind of dream world then these dream worlds could overlap. They’re not in the normal space-time continuum. So it may be that in our dreams we can actually meet ancestors who are now dead and we can actually have communications with them. And it may be that they’re not just projections of our own waking life or our subconscious mind but they have an autonomous existence in the dream world that we can actually encounter and interact with.”
“Mediums and out of body explorers tell us that our astral body lifts out of our physical body when we sleep and we actually visit with our loved ones in the afterlife. It is a world just as solid as ours but on a different frequency. Some contact dreams are fragments of memory of those visits.”
“… 5. People report meeting with relatives they did not know were dead. In all cases they are correct.
“Maggie Callanan and Patrica Kelley in their book Final Gifts tell of an elderly Chinese woman who had a NDE in which she saw her sister. The sister had died but her family had not told her (Callanan and Kelley 1997).
“Dr. Kübler-Ross talked of a girl who was injured in a car accident. No-one had told her that her mother and brother had died in the same accident. When the girl was having her NDE she saw them in the afterlife. Even Dr. Kübler-Ross didn’t know that the brother had died only ten minutes before the girl had her NDE (Kübler-Ross 1997).
“Ian Stevenson (1959) published a similar case. A man’s cousin in England had died without anyone in the United States knowing about it. During this man’s NDE, he saw his cousin. It was some time before he received a telegram announcing his cousin’s death (Stevenson 1959).
“P.M.H. Atwater reports a case of a woman who talked with her father during her NDE. Neither she nor anyone in her family was aware that the father had died only five minutes before the woman had her car/truck accident (Atwater 2007:164).”
It’s fun to read this admission from Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, that on his wedding day he seemingly experienced communication from the dead. “Often I am asked if I have ever encountered something that I could not explain. What my interlocutors have in mind are not bewildering enigmas such as consciousness or U.S. foreign policy but anomalous and mystifying events that suggest the existence of the paranormal or supernatural. My answer is: yes, now I have.”