What Do Dreams about Death Mean?

Death DreamDEATH DREAM Psychological Meaning:

These are symbolic dreams and are unlikely to forecast an actual event. If the dead person is someone you know, consider what aspect of yourself that person represents. For example, if you dream of your mother dying could it represent the ‘death’ of the motherly side of your own nature. Perhaps you should try to be more caring and maternal or perhaps plans you have should be nurtured rather than killed off.

Alternatively, you may also be expressing your hidden feelings about the person shown. Do you have a secret resentment towards them or desire to be independent of them? Dead animals may also represent aspects of yourself. They indicate that you may be rejecting or repressing your instinctive side.

Freud believed that everyone has two contending basic drives: Eros, which is the drive towards pleasure and life and Thanatos the drive towards death.

Some classical death dream themes and meanings:

  • Dreams of dead animals represent instinctive aspects of yourself that are not finding expression. The type of animal can represent various aspects of yourself. For example a dead dog can represent the death of loyalty, a dead bird can show the death of your sense of freedom, a dead horse may show the death of your health and strength, a dead cow can represent the death of your motherly feelings and the need to nurture. In each case the symbol may represent something that has a specific meaning for you personally.
  • Dreams about a dead family member may show aspects of your emotions that have ‘died’. A dead mother may show that your own motherly feelings are repressed (like the cow symbol above) a dead father may show your loss of authority. Remember to look for symbolic meanings before you worry yourself thinking that all these types of dreams are premonitions.
  • The death of a loved one may show that you are lacking their qualities.
  • To see someone dying in your dream can sometimes reveal feelings of resentment towards that person.
  • To dream that you die or are dying shows inner changes, transformation within you. In real life you may have worries about embarking on a new course of self-discovery and positive development.
  • Sometimes dreams about death can symbolize the fact that you have very painful and troubling relationships and can represent your feelings of despair and depression.


To dream of meeting the dead people you once knew is part of the grieving process. Sometimes the feeling of loss is symbolized by being rejected, divorced or attacked by the person you loved. You may dream that they ignore you or have traveled far away. This is all part of the process of coming to terms with the death of a loved one.

However, there are some dreams that cannot be explained as symbolism, allegory or metaphor. From the many casebooks I have collected, it appears that occasionally the ‘dead’ can communicate to us through dreams. I have cases on file where information has been given to the dreamer that could not have been known other than by paranormal means. For example, one woman wrote to say that her ‘dead’ husband told her exactly where to find the missing will and I have many instances recorded where the ‘dead’ person has announced their passing via a dream.

Dreaming Of The Dead – A Spiritual Explanation

Ruby Gradidge-Zanner left her career as a doctor to become a clairvoyant. She does personal readings and emotional healing, teaches meditation and development courses and conducts self-realization workshops.

Ruby says she has also had a reoccurring dream that began when she was a child and possibly relates to a past life. “In my dream I’m a little Jewish girl of about three years. I live with my parents and older sister in a split level apartment. My mom tells us to hide underneath a flight of stairs. I look up and see someone wearing brown boots walking down the stairs. The man wearing the boots takes my father away. The dream changes and I’m standing with my mom at a train station, waiting to board. A man a few steps away wearing a soldier’s uniform calls me over and I tell him where my mom and I are going. I shouldn’t have told him.

The scene changes again and I’m surrounded by grey mud accompanied by a strange old woman. I’m cold, hungry and scared and then everything goes black. For years I was troubled by the dream until I realized I actually lived in that era and was the little girl in the dream who’d actually died in a concentration camp. I was finally able to understand why I act the way I do in this lifetime. I hate wasting food; I have Jewish features according to the stereotype, even though I’m not; I married a German man whose father refused to believe the Holocast even happened; I’m scared of saying the wrong thing in case I get other people into trouble.”

As a practicing medium Ruby also believes that the spirit world can contact us through dreams. “I believe that every night when you sleep your soul leaves your physical body and depending on your level of consciousness it goes somewhere. Sometimes it just hovers around the physical plane but most of the time it returns back ‘home’ to reconnect to a loved one in spirit, or a guide, in order to get advice, work through problems, or sometimes just to be with someone who you loved very much in life,” says Ruby. “Many people feel a jerking sensation while sleeping, that’s when your soul comes back into the body into a state of wakefulness.

Sometimes dreams are difficult to make sense of because when awake we are bombarded by a million different stimuli and input. So in addition to the physical body resting and going through physiological changes and the soul leaving the body our conscious mind also sifts through all the stuff we haven’t dealt with during the day and mixes it into the dream. That’s why you’ll often remember being with your dead loved but also experiencing things that happened during your waking state. It’s important to keep in mind that there may be unresolved emotions with the person past and that dreaming of them can brings these emotions to light. It’s common to dream that your past loved one is angry with you but most of the time the emotion stems from yourself – you’re angry because they’ve past on. Some times those people in mourning become frustrated because they say they never dream of their loved ones. The truth is that the majority of times they just don’t remember. Another reason could be that the person’s human belief system prevents them from believing that there is a possibility of connecting to their past loved one and so the channel of communication through dreams becomes harder.”

Dreaming Of The Dead: A Scientific Explanation

Scientists say that dreaming of the dead indicates that you miss them and are trying to relive your old experiences you had with them. In trying to keep up with the pace of your daily waking life, you dreams may serve as your only outlet in coping and coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.

What Does It Mean?

Angels: Since earliest times, angels have been known as messengers from God. In a psychological sense, this may be a message from parts of yourself which could lead to greater fulfillment and happiness. Its wings suggest flight and transcendence. If the angel is sinister, recognize it as something in your life that may cause trouble. Pay attention to these things and give them expression in your life. If you dream of the angel of death, it may not necessarily be an omen of death. It may symbolize your anxiety looking for a way to express itself.” More

Funerals: The person being buried may represent an aspect of yourself that you are trying to repress. Is there something that you want removed from your life? Perhaps you have feelings, desires or thoughts that scare you. You may be worrying too much about your health or perhaps you want to bury the past. The only constant in life is change. The past is dead and buried so now embrace the present and look forward to the future. Who is being buried? Do you feel resentment towards this person or do they symbolize something happening in your life or something about yourself? If it is you that is being buried in the dream then you may have a fear about being overwhelmed by your emotional troubles or unconscious forces. First, you must to get in touch with these hidden feelings and find out what they are. What has happened recently or a long ago to give rise to these emotions? Don’t keep burring them. Start by examining them, then accept them, and finally start to control them. The problems you try to bury are probably not as bad as you think. Occasionally dreams of funerals do foretell the future. Abraham Lincoln dreamt of his own death just days before he was assassinated. However, in the vast majority of cases dreams of funerals are a metaphor for your own state of mind.

Bad Dreams And Nightmares “Almost everyone has experienced one or more dreams that contain anxiety or outright fear. For some, unpleasant dreams or nightmares recur repeatedly; for others, the content may change while the theme remains the same, such as scenes of falling, or of being pursued or attacked, late or unprepared for a presentation or an exam, stuck in slow motion, unable to move or scream, or naked in public, to name a few common themes.

This type of experience, when unpleasant, is usually associated with lack of progress by the dreamer to recognize and solve conflicts in life,” says Craig Webb, Executive Director of The Dreams Foundation. “The majority of nightmares represent opportunities for personal healing through much-needed emotional release. They are often indirectly warning us about current behaviour patterns or psychological imbalances that we need to remedy if we don’t want such unpleasant dreams to repeat, or worsen. Sometimes, such imbalances or patterns resolve themselves as the dream percolates into waking thought and we unknowingly respond and make adjustments in our life.

But if we block, deny or ignore such messages from the subconscious for too long, then it usually speaks ‘louder’ to get our attention often by bringing related events, which I call Daymares, into our waking hours. These Daymares show up as sickness, accidents, relationship difficulties or other unfortunate personal circumstances that force us outright to deal with the issue at hand.”

Craig continues to say that renown psychologist Carl Jung observed that portions of our whole personality are frequently projected outward in dreams, taking the form of aggressors, devils, monsters, intimidating animals or natural events (such as tidal waves, fires, earthquakes and so on). “Jung referred to these symbolic figures as ‘the shadow’. Whether we become aware of such elements of our shadow through nightmares or Daymares, re-accepting these judged and disowned portions of ourselves is the message and the awaiting gift.

So, we truly are lucky to have such nightmares, since they provide a natural ‘pressure-release’ therapy for the psyche, and especially since they may even provide what amounts to an early cure if we listen to, make an effort to understand and then act upon the valuable insight that dreams try to bring us. The goal is still to put an end to nightmares and recurring dreams, but by evolving them into more beneficial scenarios, and not by blocking, ignoring or denying them.

“It has been extensively demonstrated that various nightmare and recurring dream themes are quite universal, even cross-culturally, and that such situations can be transformed into positive and even pleasant experiences. The key to such evolution is a change of perspective, often accompanied by a new emotional response to the situation such as taking on an attitude of acceptance, curiosity and exploration to replace the existing reaction of fear or judgement (as in the dream example above).

When these types of dream are connected with deep traumatic waking events, such as abuse, war and death the evolution of the dream into a more positive form may understandably take longer and require more waking attention and focus. Though there is no unerring rule as to what any given dream might be about, a good rule of thumb is to re-experience the feeling of the dream and find out where this same feeling shows up in our waking life. This is the rule of associative logic – the dream associates to our life, and sometimes to our past, by a specific feeling.”


9 comments… add one
  • Sydney Oct 27, 2013, 5:01 am

    Okay well quick question, my friend had this friend named Emma and Emma died in a car accident years ago, to this day she still has a repeating dream reliving the day she died, she then wakes up crying, feeling numb and heartbroken, what does this mean? Is there anyway to stop her from having this over and over?

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Sep 12, 2014, 10:13 pm

      The dream is not the cause of the problem but does show how your friend is more deeply upset that she may show in waking life. There are clearly bereavement issues here that need resolving. Your friend could seek counselling though as a medium I would suggest she/he look into Spiritualism to discover the certain truth that there is no such thing as death.We are all eternal beings.

  • Aileen Chandler Dec 4, 2014, 6:21 pm

    I have finally realized after 31 years that I have a strange gift. I think it has to do with people that have passed away/ wrongful deaths. Like they are trying to use me to get through what really happened, through my dreams and other strange ways that most people would just think was crazy. So really until now, I’ve been afraid to speak out about it. I do remember a man at an antique shop saying that some people make money for having a gift that is odd. It scares me.

  • Jessica Weekes Jun 14, 2015, 1:35 am

    I have been having dreams that my children were being killed by my ex-husband girlfriend and they have died and there was nothing I can do for them.

  • alice Jul 23, 2015, 12:28 pm

    I always have dreams about people close to me passing until they do pass than the dreams stops. I have not had one of these dreams for years until last night, I dream my sister pass. The dreams always start 6 months before the person pass, than after they pass the dreams stops. The dream about my sister last night was so real I had to get up. Why do I have these dreams?

  • Casey Nov 9, 2015, 8:11 am

    I had a dream that my father, who is still alive despite what could be very serious health issues if he doesn’t change his eating habits, died. I attended his funeral and while there another funeral was being held for an older lady. The name isn’t familiar at all, although in the dream I was very upset about her passing. But, during the funeral my father woke up from death. He seemed very confused about why everyone seemed so scared he tried to call me over to him. But, I was so afraid. I moved seats and just stared at him scared.

  • stephanie Apr 7, 2016, 9:28 am

    I have a question and it has been bothering me quite a while now. I don’t know if you will be able to interpret this dream for me or not, but if you have resources to help answer it, I would appreciate the information. A few nights ago, I had this dream where my soul left my body and traveled to a friend. My soul whispered to that friend to murder the female laying beside him and then injure his own self, and without hesitation, he did. the thing about it, is that it felt so real and I woke up as my soul came back to my body, and also now my friend is hearing things and having bad dreams himself. I’ve been looking online at explanations, but can’t seem to find none.

  • Sara May 22, 2016, 9:26 am

    So I just had what I would consider the worst nightmare that I have ever had. It was more vivid than I feel it should have been and I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping and a lot of anxiety since. So about a month ago, I was considering leaving my husband after I caught him having an affair. I was very angry and resentful of him and I wanted a divorce although he didn’t. I decided to give it another chance but I was still pretty mad and it was very much apparent through my behavior and actions towards him (I would be very sarcastic and condescending about every little thing.) Now, not even an entire week ago is when my nightmare took place, and I will say that it was by far both the most vivid and worst nightmare I have ever had. OK, so here it goes. In my dream I was just sitting in the living room just as I would any other day. I got a call, and it was a police officer calling me to tell me there has been an accident and I needed to identify a body.

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Dec 15, 2016, 6:56 pm

      You spoke too soon asking for a divorce which the dream identifies as an accident. You need to identify what it is that has killed the marriage symbolized by the body.

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