Dear Dreams 1-2-3:
In my dream about dad dying, I’m at a casino and my sister is a contestant in a pageant. My entire family is there. Afterward, I go off to get the car, and when I return to the front of the casino I can’t find them so I call my Dad. My sister answers and I can tell right away something is wrong. I go to the hotel room where they are staying. I see my Dad’s body lying on a bed covered by a sheet, and my sister next to him crying, but no blood or anything. After a moment, my Dad sits up and starts telling stories from when he was a kid. I’m crying as I think the dream over. What does it mean?
Signed, Worried Son
Dear Worried Son:
There is nothing to worry about. The dream about your dad dying and coming back to life is entirely symbolic and suggests that something in your sister’s relationship with him is changing.
Look first at the setting, a casino. It hints that the underlying subject is about taking risks or gambling with something, but think beyond the literal idea of gambling with money or fortune and consider other risks or gambles: with health, reputation, relationships, and so on. A pageant can symbolize display, choices, competition. A hotel room suggests that something is in transition, since hotels are places we go when not at home (unless you live in a hotel!).
Your dad and sister are the primary actors in this dream-story, but your entire family is there. So whatever underlies this dream affects all of you in some way. However, your sister appears to be the primary focus.
Now consider the actions in the dream. Your sister participates in a pageant, then you are separated from your family. Finally, you find your dad in a hotel room where he appears to be dead at first, but is actually all right.
All of these actions can be explained by a piece of information we discussed online: You suspect that your unmarried sister, who is away from home while attending a Christian college, is having sex with her boyfriend, a no-no in your family. You fear that it could cause a falling out, a separation in the family, which explains why you get separated from them in the dream. The risk she is taking explains the casino setting. The pageant is related to the idea of getting married as a process of putting yourself on display and being chosen, related back to sex before marriage. And the implication of your father’s death is actually symbolic of something dying in your sister’s relationship with him, since your father is the one who taught his children to not have sex before marriage, and by disobeying him she risks causing a rift.
The real kicker is the last part when your dad sits up and tells stories from when he was a kid. He told you that he had sex before marriage back when he was “a kid,” and the dream is cleverly reminding you that you know this already. The sheet that covers him symbolizes that your sister is not “countenancing” his advice, or perhaps can’t “face” the consequences of her actions if he found out. It’s a way of saying that she is ignoring his wishes. A body covered with a sheet is out of sight, the dream’s way of saying “out of mind.”
This dream is a great illustration of how external events in our lives become subjects for our dreams. Most dreams are about what is going on inside of you. In your dream, the details are drawn from your perceptions and feelings, but the underlying subject is about what’s going on with your sister. Since your father had sex before marriage too, his reaction to finding out that your sister is having sex before marriage might not be as bad as you expect.