Translating the Symbolic Meaning of Death in Dreams

I think most of us have experienced a dream in which either we ourselves have died in a dream or we have witnessed (or even took part in) the death of someone else. Over the years, many of my clients and friends have had trouble deciphering the meaning of death in a dream, and have been left waking up back into reality feeling one of two ways:

  • If the dreamer died in a dream, the dreamer awoken quickly grasping for breath. They were shaken up and they needed to take a moment to get their bearings back. They needed to make sure they were still alive and had woken back up into waking reality. The images or feelings lingered through out the day and the dreamer felt a energetic weight containing space within their thoughts.
  • If a dreamer witnessed or was involved with the death of someone else the dreamer more often then not awoke feeling sad or upset with what just took place. The dream of death feels too real and the dreamer is left, upon waking, wondering if they were actually part of the murder. Witnessing death within in a dream is a slightly different feeling then being the murderer.

Dreams of dying, being dead, witnessing or killing someone else are intense dreams that are often sending an important message to you about you. It more often then not is referring to one of the following; an aspect you that is dying or needs to go, change needs to take place in some aspect in your life, jealousy or envy you may feel towards another person, or fears you may have surrounding death. Every once in a while a dreamer may have a premonition of death (either a loved one, someone they know, or their animal) but never take this as the first sign of a death dream (unless you have that knowing feeling surrounding the death dream). I will address premonitions of death in a future posting.

  • If the death is you it may represent the death of an old way of thinking (or acting); or the death of an aspect of your Self that needed to die in order for you to move forward. I suggest that rather then fearing the death that took place in your dream, embrace what was and let go of it. If you are having a hard time accepting the face that this aspect of you has died, create a special ceremony and honor what was. Light a candle and burn a piece of paper in which you have written this old way or aspect, let the paper light on fire until it no longer exists, say a blessings or prayer to what was. By letting go in waking life, as your unconscious was letting go in dreamtime, you are freeing up energy and space to invite in and embrace what is new.
  • If the death is that of someone else you may be experiencing a feeling of envy or resentment towards that particular person OR and aspect of that person that is also an aspect of yourself you dislike. Sometimes we experience a dream where we watch a person die or we are the murderers ourselves. If you are watching the person die, this person may represent hopes or desires we wish to have or incorporate in our lives. If you murder the person you may have a feeling of jealousy that is eating away at you in waking life. By acting on killing, you may be trying to rid yourself of such intense ugly feelings; you may be releasing yourself of the these feelings of resentment or envy. Stop for a moment and sit with a dream like this. Think about what the dead person represents to you and how they make you feel in waking life. Are there similar aspects within you that were also in the dead person.
  • Death in a dream can also be translated into your own fear of death. Think about what it is you are afraid of within the dying process or within death itself. Write down a list of 3 to 6 reasons that resonate with you around your fear of death. Is there an ideal you were raised with that has affected your view on death? Or has this particular dream awaken a feeling of fear within you that you have been ignoring.

My partner had a death dream about a month ago. He awoke with his heart beating loud, his breath heavy, and his body sweating. His energy was twirling around the bedroom and it pulled me out of a deep slumber. He look at me and said, “I just murdered someone in my dream. I just killed someone and it is freaking me out. It felt good but no… I don’t like the way I feel now.” I laid there half asleep listening to his dream. Later that morning as we finished our morning tea / coffee, I addressed his dream again. I asked him how he was feeling and his response was “Like I just murdered someone.” I asked him if he felt as if he murdered someone or if he felt an aspect or feeling within him had just died, and maybe now this part of him was facing a loss to death. He smiled at me in silence. I added, “It’s hard to let go of what is so familiar and comfortable.” He replied with, “but I murdered someone else.”

I began asking who the person was, what they represented for him. I asked him to state one or two aspects of that person that he found similar in himself. Then I asked him one or two aspects in that person that he felt envy or dislike for. Once he began to break down his feelings, bringing the dream out of the darkness and into waking light he began to decode the symbolic meaning of what the death represented for him in his present life. Letting go of the fear and the parts of the dream that upset him, letting the old aspects de-materialize, eventually making room for the new. This is a process, and it is not one her was interested in working on, but he wanted to find meaning behind the horrible feeling of killing someone and the death that resided in his thoughts.

For me, I see death dreams (represented in the way I translated above) as a way for our spirit and soul to grow and evolve. Usually a death within a dream can be translated to be defined as a death within your Self. As seasons change, as we grown older, and as time speeds up, we must continue to evolve within our body, mind, and spirit. In order for us to continuously evolve we must rid our Self of aspects, ways of thinking, actions, and surroundings that become stale, inhibit our energies, or obstruct our path.

There is also the feeling of death within a dream when one experiences visitations from the dead. There are those who dream of a loved one (or of any dead person) that may be appearing to bring some type of a message to the dreamer. And there are also dreams in which the dead appear asking for some type of help, such as a request to find the light of the afterlife. I will follow up this post and address the dead in these terms. To be continued in Visitations, When the Dead Coming Calling which should be posted in the next day or two.

More on Dreams… purchase one of my dream books… (click on images)

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UPDATE (10.13.11) – I realized that I addressed only the symbolic meaning of death within a dream, but I did not address people who do actually predict their death within their dreams. I have not personally received a dream from anyone in which they dreamt of death and then departed from the physical form. I have experienced a dream, as a child, on when I am suppose to die. I posted about this in Dreaming of Your Physical Death.

2 thoughts on “Translating the Symbolic Meaning of Death in Dreams

  1. My friend just got killed.
    And my mum just had a dream of me being
    Next and getting shot and dying
    What does that mean ?

  2. Hi John, I am sorry to hear about your friend passing. Without talking to your mom and hearing a little more about her dream it is hard to tell if she has experienced a premonition or not. Read this posting for more information and resources on premonitions.

    Your mom’s dream may be just a representation of her fear around loosing you….. or it may represent the transformation you are about to enter into – the shedding, or the death of some aspect of you which will lead to a rebirth and a new way you will perceive things (or live your life) both in waking and within the invisible. Try not to place to much fear around your mom’s dream …. as every action, every thought (both positive and negative), and the energy we give out, within each passing moment, has the ability of changing how we perceive the outcome of our future.

    I am sorry I do not have a direct answer for you but I hope what I have said helps. May I suggest finding someone in your area that you and or your mom can go see that may help you move through this dream and the loss of your friend.

    Blessings, Meredith

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