In most dreams, the departed appear to be living, and very often the dreamer is unaware that the person he or she encounters is “dead” until after waking. The reason is that the departed are indeed alive, though no longer in the physical realm.
The departed may appear as the dreamer remembers them from their last days of physical life, especially in the first dream encounters.
Over time, it is quite common for the departed to alter their appearance, to shrug off signs of age and bodily ailments, and to present themselves as healthy and attractive. People who died in later years frequently reappear looking around 30 years old. In the west of Ireland and in Scotland, it is widely believed by country folk that the departed grow upwards or downwards in their apparent age until they look 30 years old. This is also the experience of many contemporary dreamers. I was amazed and delighted when my own deceased mother displayed herself, some years after her death, as a stunning 29-year-old blonde in a swimsuit on a beach.
The departed may change their appearance and personal style even more radically, as they evolve in understanding and come to realize that they are now living in energy bodies that are quite malleable.
Jung dreamed of the two central women in his life, his wife and his “junior wife” and life companion Toni Wolff, after their deaths. Toni appeared looking much taller and younger than she had been when she died, and exceedingly beautiful, wearing a lovely multi-colored dress in which the wonderful blue of the kingfisher was the dominant hue. After Emma’s death, Jung saw her in a vivid dream in which she appeared in her prime, “perhaps about thirty” but with a depth of wisdom beyond youth or age. Jung concluded that his wife’s dream persona was “a portrait she had made or commissioned” for him. “It contained the beginning of our relationship, the events of fifty-three years of marriage, and the end of her life also. Face to face with such wholeness one remains speechless.”