It can be devastating when we dream of someone dying. We may mourn emotionally in the dream, but we may also wake up with a terrible sense of dread, of loss or a fear that this dream was a premonition and that we must some how warn the person or prevent the event that occurred in our dream. But other times, we may have a terribly sad dream of someone dying, only to wake and feel strangely calm, and surprised at how unemotional we feel given the events of the night. Yet other times the death in the dream may create a sense of peacefulness and calm in the dream, or of a strange kind of detachment. We may even feel joyful, celebrating someone’s departure.
All of these feelings are valid, and make a lot of sense when we remember that when we dream of other things or other people, we are only dreaming of a part of ourselves. We should apply the usual process of understanding what these people represent to us (see Dream Symbols: Other People, Dream Symbols: Loved Ones.) You may even feel it is your own death you dream of. So death in a dream might ask to look at what part of our selves, or what aspect of our life, is dying or has died? And how do we feel about that? It is not always a sad or fearful thing.
Death is part of nature, part of the cycle of life. Death must occur in order that new life begin. The forest and bush fires of California and Australia destroy so much life, but they create ash that fertilises the soil so that new growth may arise, they heat seed pods and stimulate growth. Without these fires, and the death or destruction they bring, these forests would stagnate and become unhealthy, eventually unable to sustain life. On even a micro level, our hair strands die and fall out and our skin cells shed. These cells must die in order for us to grow and live. Plants or animals must die so that other plants or animals may live. This is the way of our world.
So when we dream of death, we must remind ourselves not to think of this as a negative things, as
a sad ending, but rather part of the process of growing and evolving. We must let go of some things in our life when they no longer serve us. We may even dream of death as we give up an old habit, as we move to a new location or take on a new job, give up a relationship or move into a new phase of an existing relationship. It is as natural to be sad when we say goodbye to something as it is to celebrate is departure. The important thing is to recognise when we must let go, and when that time comes, we can respect what we have lost, but the time has come for moving forward. To grow and live again.
Dreams of death invite us to:
- Appreciate the short and precious time we have
- Reflect on what must leave or let go of
- Mourn what is lost, and heal from this
- Release our feelings and recognise what may have been “dead” inside us, what feeling we refused to feel
- Marvel at the wonder of new life, of cycles and transitions
- Feel joy at the release of that which was trapped
- Say goodbye, find closure, feel completion and peace
And while I maintain dreaming of death is rarely anything other than metaphorical, I don’t presume to
know all that there is to know about dreaming and its mysteries. Abraham Lincoln is reported to have dreamed of his own assasination. He told his wife that he dreamed he walked into a room in the White House, where people were crying and mourning. He saw a black coffin, and when asked who was dead in the White House, he was told “the President, who was killed by an assasin.” This is a fascinating story, and it shows we all have much to learn yet of dreams and what they mean. Was this dream a pure prophecy? Lincoln had been advised against assassins, and appeared not to take the threat seriously. Was it his subconscious warning him? Was it an expression of his fears? Was it simply a coincidence? I share this story with you in the spirit of free thought, but I do urge you, if you have dreamed of death that scared or panicked you, try looking to the major changes and perhaps losses you may be experiencing first, instead.
Death is natural and comes to us all, but our dreams show us that we can have small deaths along the way, and that we can learn to embrace these, and accept, and maybe even celebrate, that there is good that comes along with losing, letting go, or moving on.