Images of the Dead in Grief Dreams: A Jungian View of Mourning, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Images of the Dead in Grief Dreams

A Jungian View of Mourning, 2nd Edition

By Susan Olson


176 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2020-07-13
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While in training at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich in 1988, Susan Olson suffered the loss of her daughter in an auto accident. In this intimate and personal exploration, Olson uses C. G. Jung’s psychological framework of mourning todescribe her journey through tragedy, guided by a series of vivid dreams.

In Images of the Dead in Grief Dreams: A Jungian View of Mourning, Jung's definition of the dream as a "harbinger of fate, a portent and comforter, a messenger of the gods" evolves from theory into embodied insight as Olson describes her encounter with the transforming power of grief. Drawing from personal experience as well as theoretical and clinical material, Olson presents premonitory dreams, which occur before the loss of a loved one, and grief dreams, which follow a loved one’s death, and analyzes both according to Jung’s method of dream interpretation. Sharing her own dreams as well as those of other mourners, Olson asserts that such dreams play a crucial role in the dreamer’s emotional recovery and psychological development, otherwise known as the process of individuation. She sensitively offers an assessment of the stages of grief and draws on the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone, Jung’s memoirs, and other literature to amplify her experience of mourning. In this unique combination of grief therapy practice and dreamwork, Images of the Dead in Grief Dreams is both an emotional grief memoir and an extensive study of C. G. Jung’s view of the mourning process.

This fully updated revised edition will be of immense interest to Jungian analysts in practice and in training, academics, psychologists, students of Jungian thought and dream analysis, as well as to all who have suffered loss.


‘C. G. Jung characterized his psychology and as an attempt, "ever renewed, to give an answer to the question of the interplay between ‘here’ and ‘hereafter.’" Inspired by her own bereavement, Susan Olson soulfully engages the same interplay. Grappling now with the starkness of loss, now with the richness of death, she gives her answer to the "here" and "hereafter" question. A book of love and mystery. Highly recommended!’ — Greg Mogenson, Jungian analyst, author of Greeting the Angels: An Imaginal view of the Mourning Process

‘A truly psychological work. Grounded in personal experiences, and armed with wide-ranging knowledge and sensitivity, the author explores grief, transformation, and dreams of the dead in human psychology. This remarkable book can help us, professionally and personally, face the loss of a loved one and the legacy for the dead.’ — Paul Kugler, Jungian analyst, author of Raids on the Unthinkable: Freudian and Jungian Psychoanalysis

‘Susan Olson follows the unconscious currents that shape and channel mourning. Her book is a generous, deeply moving, and personal gift to all whose hearts will never be unbroken after the loss of a child. Hearts may mend through a journey in the symbolic landscapes of dreams, where the beloved one lives on in a form scarcely recognized by our limited consciousness.’ — Kathrin Asper, Jungian analyst, author of The Inner Child in Dreams

Table of Contents

Preface; 1. The Open Door; 2. Running with the Horses; 3. Incomprehensible Things; 4. "Let Your Tears Fertilize My Ground"; 5. "Touch Me"; 6. The Cure of Souls; 7. The Wound that Heals; 8. "Remember Me!"; 9. Descent to the Underworld; 10. "You Can Visit Them in Their Dreams!"; 11. The Food of the Deep; 12. "I Have a Gift for You"; Epilogue: "I Have a New Name"

About the Author

Susan Olson, M.A., L.C.S.W., graduated from the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland and is now a Jungian analyst in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She is on the faculty of the Memphis-Atlanta Jungian Seminar, an affiliate of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health