Seeing something dead in your dream suggests you are realising that some part of yourself, or your feelings, are no longer expressing fully. In fact you may have killed that part of you by denying it, repressing, or freezing it from normal life. The ‘death’ may even have been caused by a painful experience. But even so, it still means you have made a decision – perhaps unconscious – to shut out that part of your life. This can also relate to a lost opportunity or potential.
Some aspect of your outer or inner life is fading, or being superseded by a changed approach, so may be shown as dying. Your drive to achieve something might die, and be shown as a death in your dreams. Changing from adolescence to puberty, maturity to old age, are also shown as oneself dying. Lost opportunities or unexpressed potentials in oneself are frequently shown as dead bodies. All of us unconsciously learn attitudes or survival skills from parents and others. If these are unrecognised they may be shown as dead. Sometimes we have killed the child or teenager in us because of difficulties or trauma at those ages, and these may be seen as a dead person in one’s dream.
Some death dreams may show the awakening of new life in the dreamer. For instance, Sue worked on a dream in which she was told her baby had died. She woke shaking with grief and tears. The dream and emotions appeared to show her becoming alive enough to feel the grief of her past pain as it connected with the death of her hopes, love, and ideals. She had suppressed her pain for so long. In now coming alive enough to feel her emotions, she was feeling at last that something had died in her.
If the death is someone we know: Frequently, as in second example, desire to be free of the person; or unexpressed aggression; perhaps one’s love for that person has ‘died’. We often ‘kill’ our parents in dreams as we move toward independence. Or we may want someone ‘out of the way’ so we do not have to compete for attention and love.
Death of oneself: Exploration of feelings about death; retreat from the challenge of life; split between mind and body. The experience of leaving the body is frequently an expression of this schism between the ego and life processes. Also: Death of old patterns of living – one’s ‘old self’, the loss of the boundaries that limit your awareness to an identity connected only to the body. This latter is usually a willing surrender of self to the process.
The walking dead or rigor mortis: Aspects of the dreamer that are denied, perhaps through fear.
Dancing with or meeting death or dark figure: Facing up to death.
Example: ‘My son comes in and I see he is unwashed and seems preoccupied and as if he has not cared for himself for some days. I ask him what is wrong. He tells me his mother is dead. I then seem to know she has been dead for days, and my two sons have not told anyone. In fact my other son has not even accepted the fact.’ Anthony.
Anthony is a divorcee. Processing the dream he realised the two sons are ways he is relating to the death of his marriage – the children’s mother.
Example: ‘During my teens I was engaged to be married when I found a more attractive partner and was in considerable conflict. Consistently I dreamt I was at my fiancé’s funeral until it dawned on me the dream was telling me I wanted to be free of him. When I gave him up the dreams ceased.’ Mrs D.
Example: ‘I dream I have a weak heart which will be fatal. It is the practice of doctors in such cases to administer a tablet causing one painlessly to go to sleep – die. I am completely calm and accepting of my fate. I suddenly realise I must leave notes for my parents and children. I must let them know how much I love them, must do this quickly before my time runs out.’ Mrs M.
This is a frequent type of ‘death’ dream. It is a way of reminding ourselves to do now what we want to – especially regarding love.
Although the unconscious has a very real sense of its eternal nature and continuance after physical death, the ego seldom shares this. Unconsciously we realise that collective humanity carries living experience from the life of those now dead. The farmer today unconsciously uses the collective experience of humanity in farming. What innovation he does today his children or others will learn and carry into the future. But apart from that there is life after death. See: Life after Death By Dr. Elisabeth Kubler Ross.
Idioms: Dead and buried; dead from the neck up / or neck down; dead to the world; play dead.
Dreams about a dead person: Dreaming of someone who is dead, a relative or loved one, is quite common. After all, the person may have played a big part in your life, as for instance a husband or wife. Therefore the influence of their existence is still very much a live in you.
As an example of this, you will probably be able to realise that some of your traits, some of the ways that you think or respond to things, have arisen because of the way you related to the person you dreamt about. So in many cases the dead person indicates the feelings you have about the, the traits you still have alive in you from them. When someone close to you dies you go through a period of change from relating to them as an external reality, to meeting and accepting them as alive in your memories and inner life.
Some dreams of dead people are expressive of attempts to deal with feelings, guilt or anger in connection with the person who died; or your own feelings about death.
Dreams about a Dead husband or wife: Many dreams of dead people come from women who have lost their husband. It is common to have disturbing dreams for some period afterwards; or not be able to dream about the husband or wife at all; or to see the partner in the distance but not get near. In accepting the death, meeting any feelings of loss, grief, anger and continuing love, the dream may become as in the third example. See: Death.