What Does Dreaming of Death Mean? Death Dreams Interpreted

Death dreams interpreted

Death Dreams Interpreted: What Does Dreaming of Death Mean?

Death dreams are often distressing and can even make you wonder if the Reaper is coming. In dreams, though, death has a variety of interpretations, expanding on the idea to include figurative meanings. So to interpret a death dream, look beyond literal definitions.

Have you ever felt like you could “die from embarrassment?” Or an opportunity “died?” These are figurative ways death can be shown in dreams as, well, stone cold, dramatic, bloody or violent death. When used this way as symbolism, death is a figurative representation of a personal situation. It’s exaggeration, a dramatic way of expressing an idea.

Death dreams interpretedDeath dreams are distressing because the thought of death is distressing for most people, but with dreams, what you see is rarely what you get. The distress you feel is actually caused by subconscious knowledge of the underlying symbolism. In other words, while dreaming about death you subconsciously know what it means. And whatever it symbolizes distresses you.

Just the idea of death can be distressing. Someday your heart will stop beating, that’s a fact, so of course your dreams are going to prepare you. When you can accept death in a dream, you are empowered to live life more fully or pass away more easily. But dreaming about death is most likely to be symbolic.

Death in dreams can symbolize “loss” of something, for example, the loss or decline of a relationship. I’ve known college students to dream of a parent dying because that is what it feels like, in a way, to leave home and be away from a parent’s daily influence and care. Relationships that change can feel like “little deaths,” especially when they involve people you were once close to. Here is a dream that illustrates the comparison:

I dream that a friend calls and tells me that my ex boyfriend died. I feel sorry for him, but realize I don’t really feel anything for him anymore.

A relationship that ends is said to “die,” and related feelings that linger are said to “die slowly.” The dreamer’s ex-boyfriend is not about to literally die, but her feelings for him finally have. We can instantly fall in love, but falling out of it is anything but quick and easy, usually. This dream says that the feelings the dreamer once had for her boyfriend are finally “dead.” She is totally over him.

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I interpreted a death dream involving someone’s mother hanging herself during an imminent apocalypse, then being found alive. It is a way of illustrating a threat to the relationship between the dreamer and his mother. The dreamer is doing something in his waking life (involved with illegal drugs) that could lead to badly damaging the relationship. Hanging is a way of saying that what she taught him (don’t do drugs) isn’t getting through to his head, and he fears what could happen if he gets busted: their relationship could die. Hanging is appropriate symbolism because it cuts off blood circulation and airflow to the head.

Extend the idea and you can see why the apparent death of a father in this dream symbolizes disregarding their advice about premarital sex.

Another way dreams use death is for illustrating the phrase “dead to the world,” as in this dream (summarized):

I dream that I am in a coma for an entire year. When I wake from it, I read the Facebook conversations of my friends who thought I was dead.

Coma is a way of symbolizing social isolation. The friends think the dreamer is “dead to the world.” I (user name “RadOwl” in that thread) told the dreamer that the dream is a sign to really live again, to engage socially and come out of his funk.

You can go through transitions in life that are comparable in dreams to death. The transition from childhood to teen and teen adulthood involves the “passing away” of immature parts of oneself. Entering the professional world and losing the freedom to party all night can feel like death to someone used to having plenty of time for recreation.

Dreams about animals dying can connect with something about yourself that feels like it’s under threat or receding. I helped to interpret a dream about trying to save kittens from drowning in a pool. The young man who had the dream felt like he was losing his innocent and playful side, traits commonly found in kittens.

Dreams can foretell death – your own or someone else

The symbolic interpretations of death should be considered first, but sometimes dreams about death are all too real. Just before Abe Lincoln was assassinated he dreamed about seeing himself in a casket, dead, in the White House. Boxer Sugar Ray Robinson dreamed before a fight that he accidentally killed his opponent. He tried to back out of the fight but was convinced it was “only a dream” and ended up killing his opponent, Jimmy Doyle. Weezer guitarist Mikey Welsh dreamed he would die of a heart attack in two weeks and died two weeks later of a heart attack.

Sugar Ray knocked out Doyle in the 8th round. Doyle died that night.

Dreams with literal interpretations are much less common than dreams with symbolic interpretations, and to know the difference you begin by eliminating the symbolic ones as possibilities. If I was called to counsel Sugar Ray about his dream, I’d begin by asking him if he felt like he wanted to kill his opponent, even in the sense of, “God, I could kill that guy.” Was there bad blood between them? Or did he fear that killing an opponent was a possibility? In which case, the dream can be interpreted as bringing up a fear to confront it. He might hesitate to “go in for the kill,” making him a less effective boxer.

Read more about Sugar Ray’s dream and my way of interpreting it.

Stories about dreams warning against imminent danger are widely known, so it’s natural to wonder if a dream about death or tragedy is prophetic. The answer is, most likely, no. A guy once asked me about a dream of being in a plane crash. He was scheduled to take a flight the next morning and wondered if he should cancel it. I thought the plane crash symbolized something related to fear of flying or feelings about his personal life “crashing.” I don’t know if he took the flight, but I checked the news and no commercial flights crashed on the day he was scheduled to fly.

This guy dreamed about mocking the Grim Reaper and it related to drinking and driving. He knew he was taking a big risk and being too casual about it.

This girl dreamed a couple of times that her mom died. It’s symbolism.

People commonly dream about loved ones who have passed away. Usually, the purpose is to grieve and process the loss. But sometimes these dreams can facilitate contact with loved ones in the next life by working through emotional issues first, then opening lines of communication. The interpretation of a death dream is tricky when strong emotions like grief are involved. Dreams are known to fulfill wishes, and if something is wished for strongly, like the wish to see a deceased parent again, it is likely to pop up in some form while dreaming.

Follow this link to the original discussion of that dream about a deceased father. It’s a powerful story that deserves space of its own.

Along this line, dreams about the afterlife have many interesting possibilities for symbolism.

Death in dreams is most likely to be a symbolic representation, not an actual warning or literal representation. The difference is intuited by making associations with aspects of the dream: the settings, characters, actions, and your feelings. Bottom line is there is nothing to fear, even if a dream foretells death, but there is probably something that needs your attention. Dreams don’t tell you what you already know, so if you dream about death, ask what it is trying to tell you that you don’t know already.

34 Responses

  1. Katherine says:

    Hi! I recently had a dream that my boyfriend of 30 years old died of a heart attack. His father actually died 3 years ago of a heart attack at 45 years old, unexpectedly. Last night my boyfriends twin brother dreamt that my boyfriends heart just stopped. Called him at 3am to make sure he’s ok. My boyfriend suffers from anxiety since his dad passed away & these dreams are worrying him a lot. Is there more to this? Thank you so much. I need to help him because he’s really scared.

    • RadOwl says:

      The first thing to know is, even if dreams show the future, it’s only a possibility. You have the power to decide that you want a different outcome.

      I highly recommend that you watch “The Edge of Dreaming” by Amy Hardie. She had a dream where she was told very bluntly that she was going to die, and it almost happened. But she went on a personal journey and found in the end that she could live by making that choice and realizing her own power to determine her fate.

      For two people close to a person to have a dream about that person dying… it’s not unheard of, but it does give you pause. Just looking at the odds you can bet that it’s coincidence. However, I know how anxieties can worm into the mind and become self-fulfilling prophecies. I think it would be wise for your boyfriend to confront his fears and come to terms with himself.

      A friend of mine is doing an online Q&A about unusual dream experiences. Drop by. [Ian Wilson Reddit Dreams AMA](https://redd.it/75qwvc). He might be able to give insights beyond what I offer here. But my hunch is, the documentary I linked to above is going to give you the answers you seek.

  2. Rachel says:

    My husband has had nightmares since adolescence where it ends with him being shot in the face, usually by a shotgun. Sometimes it’s his father being shot and one time it was his dog. There is typically some unknown man coming after him and it happens in multiple locations, in the city, in his home, etc. He wakes up knowing he died in the dream and is shaken. We are at the point now where he smokes marijuana every night just to prevent dreaming because they have happened so frequent and for at least twenty years.

    No significant trauma in his life, a very average childhood and no gun violence that he’s ever witnessed. Just want to help him.

    • RadOwl says:

      Hi Rachel,

      I hope he gets the help to understand his dreams and use them to settle whatever deep inner conflict is driving these nightmares.

      Shot in the face… begin decoding it by considering possibilities for what the face can symbolize. It’s the seat for personal identity. It’s a person’s most recognizable feature. It’s the primary body part associated with attractiveness. So what does it mean to be shot in the face?

      It could show a deep conflict over personal identity. A very low opinion of oneself. Self-abnegation. The feeling of being attacked very personally. A shotgun is a powerful blast. It’s also rather indiscriminate compared to, say, a rifle, which is precise. It could be a way of saying that many attacks (shotgun pellets) come at him at once, or that the attack is powerful.

      Dad and dog shot too… very close and personal sort of attack. I’m picturing him being close to his dad and his dog, and dreams can use that association to mean “personal attack.” Keep in mind, the attack could be something he’s doing to himself. It’s in his head or heart. Like, an attack on his self-esteem. Since you say he had a normal upbringing, the likelihood is the attack is not from an external source that’s closely linked to him (like a parent or friend). Instead, let’s go back to the time of life when the dreams began.

      Teenage years. Ug. I wonder if he experienced bullying or personal attacks. I’m willing to help him explore this dream theme. Give me feedback on what I’ve said so far and we’ll explore further.

  3. co says:

    I had a dream of being on the computer playing with my friends, as this troller comes in the chat room that seems like a Minecraft font, we were telling him to go out and I told him “kys”. After a while, we all hanged out and I was with one of my online friends. We were on some kind of mission ( I dont remember ) and said to text him when he finds the “thing”. He checked the back door if there was something there, and he didn’t come back. I texted him that I found the thing ( it was a cat ), and he texted back “oh really?” I heard a twisting knob from the opposite side of the back door, as I hid behind a refrigerator, but it didn’t cover enough of me because i was in the corner. I tried covering myself up as much as I can, but it was the troller in the chat room. She dragged me out of the refrigerator, made me sit, telling me how she remembers what I’ve said. She stabbed me, as I was slowly dying. She kept on ranting how I should’ve never did that. I figured all my friends were dead because there was silence at the last second. What could this mean? I keep having dreams of being killed, at least one a month or two.

    • RadOwl says:

      Dreams can create scenarios that trigger feelings and reactions, and in this case you feel scared and your reaction is you want to hide, presumably because you’ve done something wrong. Begin there. When a person says that they want to hide and they mean it figuratively, it means they’ve done something they’re ashamed of.

      Next, look at the scenario. Did you, or do you, troll? Or maybe your reaction to trolling is out of kilter? Telling someone to kys is pretty harsh. Some people actually take that shit to heart. Trollers are sometimes just looking for attention. Imagine if you got all harsh with someone in a chat room and told them they should kys and they went and did it? Then you find out it’s like some ten-year old kid?

      To be killed in a dream can mean there’s something about yourself that you want to change. You want to “kill off” a personality or character trait. There are many other possibilities for symbolism of being killed, but start there. Does the idea of “desire to change” ring a bell with you?

  4. Isabelle Martinez says:

    I had a a nightmare that the grim reaper fell from the sky through a meteorite (there was an alien invasion going on) and I just got home from school. My mom was waiting outside for me, she was normal absolutely nothing weird about her. But then the Grim reaper shows up next to the two cars that were in the drive way. He hasn’t seen me and my mom yet so I hide behind the car and grab my mom. But as I look at her, she is smiles like nothing is going on, she something but I couldn’t hear it.(There were black clouds too.) The Reaper is getting closer to our hiding spot. So I drop my mom (unintentionally) and run to the other side of the the car, then I notice that my mom isn’t with me. I see the grim reaper punching her. I climb on top of the cars in the way and I start shouting, ” GET THE HELL AWAY FROM MY MOM” I was about to jump at him but as I was shouting he cuts her head off with a his scythe. I stand there in shock as he says, “The movie is about to end…” And I asked ” Is this the movie?” ( because I didn’t want it to be real. Then I remember this a dream and finally wake up from that nightmare. I felt like I had just exited hell.

    • RadOwl says:

      I’ve helped to understand other dreams with this theme of mom in danger combined with an apocalypse theme. First time out of thousands of dreams, though, that I’ve ever heard about one where the Reaper cuts off your mom’s head!

      First, understand that the dream is vividly portraying something that’s happening in your life. Most dreams about mom dying relate back to the idea of something changing in your relationship. In your dream, consider expressions that use “cut off,” like “my parents cut off my support.” A dream could show that idea as chopping of their heads. Why their heads? Because they were in charge, but after you’re cut off, you’re in charge. Follow me? It’s all symbolism.

      Your dream has a few clues along this line of meaning, expect think in general terms of a big change. It’s an apocalypse, which can be translated from dream-speak as “big change.” Death also means “major change,” or “the end.” Think of it in terms of the end of a stage of your relationship or stage of life. Your mom’s role in your life is changing. That’s OK, but it’s hard. For the child inside you it can feel like you’re losing her. You’re not, but you do have to let go and allow the change to happen. The goal is to eventually relate to her as one adult to another, not as child to parent.

      Another indicator of change is in the detail about dropping your mom when you’re next to the car. A car can symbolize the daily progression and activity of your life. Dropping your mom can mean “I can’t take her with me.” You’re not completely on your own (mom’s still “in the scene”), but you are about to embark on a solo journey. In other words, “this movie is about to end,” meaning “this stage of the movie of my life.”

      I hope my ideas help you understand your dream. And keep in mind, only you know what the dream really means.

  5. I work on high machines, I dreamed my co-worker fell off the top and hit the ground dieing. In my dream I turned my head not to see but since her hitting her head and body folding. Why would I dream this I have no conflict with her in anyway and she is a nice person.

    • RadOwl says:

      You could have this imagery appear in your dream could express fear of an accident. Does your co-worker take risks that would make you fear for her? The co-worker could be a projection of you at your work, so you’re actually telling yourself to be extra careful. There could be a metaphor here for sacrificing yourself for your job. Most likely, the dream has less to do with the co-worker and more to do with how you feel.

  6. CAROLINE FRITZ says:

    i saw the grand ripper in a egg i rubbed on me and Put under my bed the next day i took the picture i still have the picture and seen 3 dark shadows in my room that night with a cold air that came up on me

    • RadOwl says:

      A bed is a place where you are alone with your thoughts, and an egg is something that’s nursed. Look at what’s in the egg in your dream, put together the clues, and the dream imagery suggests that you are nursing dark or fatalistic thoughts.

  7. Chris says:

    Ive been having this wierd dream for like 3-4 years, no matter what i do i can run away from the waves but igotta drown to wake up and every time i wake up my heart is beating hella fast. Wierd af

    • RadOwl says:

      Consider the obvious metaphor here. Drowning figuratively in something you can’t escape. Could be debt, emotions, responsibilities or work. Many possibilities. Your feelings will tell you what the dream theme connects to in your life. And the next thing to consider is, what do you do about it?

  8. Laura says:

    I just dreamt my boyfriend’s parents died. He didn’t tell me about it and they had a memorial for it. Which he gave a speech at and I learned that they died from a friend. I was going to go pick up food for a friend but ended up going to his house instead. My friend got very mad but I decided to stay by his side.

    • RadOwl says:

      With a dream like this, the question that helps to understand it is, are you being pressured by your friends because of your relationship with your boyfriend? Do you feel that it’s an “us or them” situation? The scenario with the parents could point toward a reason why you feel bonded with him. Like, maybe his parents are minor figures in his life and you feel like you’re filling a void.

  9. Eliza says:

    I just had a dream that the angel of death was after a me and a handful of people and he got them by leaving gifts. If you touched the gift that person was next. The thing is, some of the gifts were really meant for other people. And others would touch it by mistake. And death was embarrassed because he was reading the wrong people. I was talking to my coworker and death left me a bag of crystals. And I touched them right as my coworker says, “I think your next.” And I replied with “I think you’re right.” But I didn’t feel any fear. And I felt that in my dream. And it was an actual gift from death to me, but he wasn’t trying to reap me. Life it was to protect me, but I woke up because I was unsure if it really meant I was next or not. And now I can’t sleep and I’m terrified.

    • RadOwl says:

      Most dreams about death are symbolism unrelated to actual death. Since your co-worker is in the dream, I wonder if the reference to death is somehow connected to a situation at work. Like, perhaps you fear a layoff or something. You’re hoping that you won’t be unlucky in this respect. Either way, I don’t think you have anything to fear.

  10. Danielle says:

    The first night I received a threat that death is coming. The second night I had a dream that I was with my husband and we recieved a threat that I was going to die. Me and my husband just went on with our day. I never died and woke up. This all occurred right before my husband left for a trip to visit his family and friends. All of whom want us divorced desperately.

    • RadOwl says:

      And the good news in the dream is your life with your husband goes on. It seems to presage that his relatives will not be successfully in coming between you.

  11. Jammie says:

    I had a dream last night that my husband died. He was in a fight of some sort with a guy maybe two. And when they fell to the ground his neck was broke. My dream was in color. And I could see faces of people but don’t know who they are. As my husband was falling to the ground I heard I am in trouble. Then I see my self there holding him cry out for help and no one would. Looking at him. Was horrible I had no idea what to do.all I know is when I woke up I couldn’t go back to sleep. Most times I can’t remember my dreams or I do but for a split second…#wokeupscared

    • RadOwl says:

      I think the first possibility to consider is the dream is an observation about him and you sense he’s headed for trouble. Maybe he needs help but isn’t asking for it, or doesn’t know where to get it. But also consider that it could be commentary about your relationship (you sense trouble brewing), or even a way of saying that something represented as your husband isn’t meshing well with you.

  12. Ashley says:

    I had this dream just now and it leas me here. I hope someone can help me understand. I had a dream I got into a car accident with someone I dont know driving. As the car is flipping over and over im praying not to die and praying that whoever I was with lives bc they had 6 kids. Everything stopped. I heard call 911! Somebody help! I remember me and the girl I was with running towards the scene. By then theres ambulances and cops. Lots of people standing around. I look in the stret and both me in this girl are dead and linked arm in arm. There were 2 white sheets on the ground in front of each of our bodies. I was crawling trying to get back in my body and pulled the sheet closer to me but I couldn’t get any closer to my body. The emt saw the sheet slide across the ground and just shock nhis head with a sad look on his face as if he knew what I was trying to do. I look around for my family. The girls family was there but mine wasnt. Then suddenly there was a street to the side and my mom, daughter and sister were walking down it. I ran to them. I told my mom she had 2 come with me because I had something to show her. I grabber her hand and tried to drag her. She looked me in the face and said we burried you years ago. God brought you back just to have your daughter. She is special and will do great things. As Im talking 2 her my daughter and sister are just walking away. The rest is a little 2 vivid but I can say I was in hell and I asked saten I guess, what was so special about my daughter? He said I should ask God. There was a prayer phone of sorts. He tried to jam my signal to heaven but I got through. I asked God and as I was getting an answer, my alarm clock went off. I dont know what the answer is. Im not very religious so I have no idea where this all came from but I am very scared. Can anybody help?

    • RadOwl says:

      This is a tough one. Start by assuming that everything in a dream is a reflection of you and the story of a dream describes something about recent events in your outer life, or something about your inner life. To me, your dream looks like a story about revisiting decisions you made in the past (like having a baby) and reminding yourself why you did it (she’s special and you know it). Perhaps it’s a way of reaching deeper within yourself to give her more. Of course, I assume you really do have a daughter. If you don’t, she might represent something about yourself that’s special and it needs you to take a more active role in tending to it.

  13. GM says:

    Hi
    I saw myself in dream as dead .But during my funeral process I got live again .What could be the interpretation ?
    Your valuable inputs highly appreciated.

    • RadOwl says:

      Something to consider is something about yourself receded down into your psyche and in turn allowed something new to emerge. Like a Phoenix rising out of the ashes of its former self, or a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Another way of looking at it is you have emerged from a period of feeling dead inside. Those are the two main possibilities to consider.

  14. Adzlin says:

    I had this dream a few days ago.There’s a guy but I dont remember if I know him.We are…different I think.We have done something and now we are dying.It not a quick death.I remember just feeling sicker and sicker.There are other people too.But I dont think I know any of them.I still doing the normal daily chores.This guy told me to do something so I will be cured but I dont want to do it.I dont remember but I think it is too late for him.I thought to myself if there is no other way to recovered just let me die too.oh,there are also a lot of white I cant remember what it is just white throughout this dream.

    • RadOwl says:

      EDIT – I noticed that I actually replied to your comment but for some reason it went through twice. Anyway, this reply approaches the subject from a different direction so maybe it will help.

      Hey, my website wasn’t telling me about new comments so I missed this one. My guess is the dream could be related to continuing to do something that’s wearing you down and the situation is getting chronic. The other man is probably a projection of something about yourself. Notice that you are doing chores as the emergency is going on. I know that feeling when it’s midnight and I’m just getting around to doing the dishes, or I watched my girlfriend handle her job, our home, her elderly mother, and still find time to help out a friend. So consider the possibility that you are overloaded and something inside of you knows it, but you soldier despite what you know it is doing to you.

  15. Adzlin says:

    I had this dream a few days ago.There’s a guy but I dont remember if I know him.We are…different I think.We have done something and now we are dying.It not a quick death.I remember just feeling sicker and sicker.There are other people too.But I dont think I know any of them.I still doing the normal daily chores.This guy told me to do something so I will be cured but I dont want to do it.I dont remember but I think it is too late for him.I thought to myself if there is no other way to recovered just let me die too.oh,there are also a lot of white I cant remember what it is just white throughout this dream.

    • RadOwl says:

      I think the key to understanding the dream is that dying means the figurative sense of the word, such as “die of embarrassment,” or “die to my old self.” It has nothing to do with actual physical death. My guess is the man you recognize is an aspect of yourself — a character or personality trait, perhaps — that is receding back into your mind. And that’s what the dream means by death.

      I used to be a helluva prankster, a real trickster. But at some point that personality trait receded back into my mind. The prankster had to “die.” It’s still part of me — I draw on that trickster part of me in my strategic thinking now because while immature, it’s also very clever. But at some point I grew up and realized the pranks and tricking people are for boys and now I’m a man. That’s an example of an aspect of oneself that recedes back into the mind and is portrayed in dreams as death.

  16. Bex says:

    I had the most scarest dream off my life that I’ve ever had before, The Grim Reaper him self appeared in my dream, I did not talk to him but he was walking round my Nan and Grandads house at that point everyone in my family was disappearing it scared the living shit out of me, now I don’t know if he is coming to visit me any time soon but when he does I’ll be offering him either a beer or a spliff, sayin fuck that shit, its not my time to go haha scary shit not even lying it really happened, I think he’s trying to tell me something I wonder what it is?? I will never know!! If he comes back into mydream again i will ask him

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