What Does Dreaming of Death Mean? 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.

As Dr. Frasier Crane says, I'm listening. Leave a comment.

  1. 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

    • 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?

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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.

    • 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.

  5. 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

    • 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.

  6. 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?

    • 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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.

    • 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.

  10. 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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