"Dreaming Of The Dead: Personal Stories Of Comfort & Hope" by Marilou Trask-Curtin is, in my opinion, is the most solid discussion of the subject that I've read, and I've read quite a few. I won't try to deconstruct or summarize the book--my advice is to just read it, even if you're only remotely interested in the subject.
Amazon.com doesn't seem to be promoting the book--it never appeared in the crawl of "recommended books" by James Van Praagh and others of that ilk that Amazon thinks I ought to read--so most readers will have to find it serendipitously, like I did.
I can vouch for this book because I've personally experienced much of what Ms. Trask-Curtin has (but not as dramatically), and so have most of you. In fact, dream (and other) contact with the "dead" is probably the most common human experience involving the supernatural. It is a universal human experience that is rarely discussed or studied. While doctrinaire materialists argue that there's "no scientific proof" for conscious survival of physical death, practically *everyone* can truthfully say, "Well, that may be true, but let me tell you about this vivid dream that I had after my parent / friend / partner passed..."
One of the hidden strengths of Ms. Trask-Curtin's book is that she never falls into the trap of trying to "explain" or rationalize her experiences; she doesn't speculate on what they might "mean"; nor does she digress into lengthy ponderings on what the afterlife is or isn't (all of which I would have done, had I written it). She simply tells her story.
This, of course, does not prevent *me* from making some observations, because I had quite a few "ah ha!" moments throughout the book.
For example: Ms. Trask-Curtin coins the term "youthening"--the opposite of "aging"--to describe the phenomenon where spirits progressively grow younger and younger during the encounter. While many researchers argue that "spirits" (I dislike the term, but can't think of a better one) can choose to display themselves of any chronological age (usually the prime age of the mid-thirties), I don't think that anyone else has quite made this specific observation. But I had such a dream, and for years, I never understood what it meant. In the dream, my grandfather appeared and discussed the afterlife with me (because, he said, I was "interested in the subject"). At the end of the discussion, I watched as my grandfather quickly morphed from an elderly man, all the way back to a young boy of about age seven. Why this happens--and why spirits appear this way--is unknown, but this observational tidbit is impressive.
Practically all dream encounters with spirit beings that Ms. Trask-Curtin describes take place in what seem to be quasi-physical environments that look very much like our physical world. These environments are described as actual locations "somewhere" (though not on our physical plane)... And it's understood that both the spirit and the physical experiencer can return to these locations, at will, later. I think that this is quite interesting. It seems that what is being described is a mid-plane that operates as a transit point and meeting place between the "dead" and those still physically incarnated... This location is apparently a well-known landmark. Is this the so-called "astral plane" (another term I dislike)? Or is it, simply, another "world," like our physical one, operating at a different frequency, making it invisible to the physical? And if this is the case, "where" are the dead? In a realm so far removed from the physical that it would be impossible for us to interact with them? Of course, none of this is neither here nor there--but it's the sort of thing I enjoy speculating about.
More completely irrelevant speculations to follow...