Encountering my grandma’s ghost allowed me to grieve her absence

When I tell my mum about my dream, she’s relieved, saying that she’s done everything to invite my grandma’s ghost into our home. For my mum, ghosts are not necessarily a bad thing – they can be, but that’s just like real life, she tells me. The afterlife is just an extension of our reality, separated by a gauze-like boundary; it’s unstable, allowing different worlds to coalesce in a series of brief encounters.

In China, the dead are never far off from the living. Our dreams are a soft site for them to land, plush and warm, a space of possibility. Chinese culture believes that in the first three years after a loved one dies, they exist between this life and the next in a spectral liminal space. When my grandma first passed, my mum saw her in dreams composed of childhood memories and fragmentary conversations. The idea that they could still talk and visit each other offered her a sail to tide over the tragic inexplicability of loss.

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