Some aspect of your outer or inner life is fading, or being superseded by a changed approach or attitude, so may be shown as dying.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.
Because you cannot actually die in your dreams. It is like you become totally involved in a movie that you can only escape from by waking. But when you wake things are the same – you are not dead – but you have been enriched by a lot of new experiences.
I feel so deeply that our society does not let us die. What a terrible thing! The process of death isn’t just your heart stopping, it is a long process of shifting values, of creating a self that is no longer so deeply identified with the things of the world. The way our society is structured forces the ageing individual to go on and on almost like a hunter or warrior tied to processes in the external world trying to pay their way. Why I wonder? It seem so strange that the Stone Age societies living in very difficult circumstances, without our massive technological back-up, could manage to support their ageing and allow them a period of sinking into death. We, with massive resources, cannot do this.
I felt a tremendous desire here to let go of all my worldly activities. I wanted to hand all my savings over to my sons and say, look, you care for this. All I ask is for a small amount of money to pay for my food and basic needs. I dearly wanted to give up and live from within myself.
Also parts of ones feelings sometimes die. Our love for someone might die for instance, and so our dream illustrates this with a death, perhaps of that person.
Some teenagers dream of their parents dying as they start to become independent. This is a form of killing of dependent feelings about their parents as a means of growth. This happens in some relationships too, where we want to break with the person.
“The dead differ from the living only in this respect: they are in a permanently subconscious state because the conscious mind of the physical body no longer exists. But the body is an expendable shell, and all else is intact. On the astral level of existence, the sub-conscious mind replaces the conscious mind of the soul, and the superconscious replaces the subconscious. Hence, in dreams, we find that communication with those who have passed on is more logical than the average person is able to comprehend.” Quote from Edgar Cayce.
Death of someone known: Frequently, as in the example, this might express desire to be free of them, or unexpressed aggression. Perhaps your love for or connection with 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.
When someone we know dies lots of things happen to us. First of all we have always thought of the person as being outside of us. Then suddenly they are gone from the outside world, and we either think of them as gone forever never to be seen again; or we do what dreams often do and find them inside of us. In this way we can discover a new relationship with them, either because they now communicate with us as a dead person, or we receive from them what they left in us.
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.
Death of yourself: You might be exploring your feelings about death, or retreating from the challenge of life. Sometimes it expresses a split between mind and body. The experience of leaving the body is frequently an expression of this schism between the ego and life processes.
It could also be death of old patterns of living – your ‘old self’, or the loss of the traits that limit your awareness to an identity connected only to your body.
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 yourself to do now what you want – especially regarding love.
Example: During a major operation I dreamt I saw my little daughter – dead for many years – standing in a corn field. When she was actually buried the cemetery was skirted by a corn field, and later in life, coming to terms with this early death of a child, I imagined my daughter walking into the corn field. In the dream I walked into the corn field. My daughter was waiting for me with her arms held up. I put my arms to her and we greeted each other smiling. At that point I felt it wasn’t time to die yet, turned and walked out of the corn field. Ken S.
Example: I was upstairs watching T.V. with my dog laying on the bed. I heard a motorbike out in the yard. I went downstairs and the dog followed me and this person on the bike tried to run the dog over. My husband came out and told me to go back to bed. I picked the dog up and started up the stair, reached the top and there was a big gap from the top of the stairs to the bedroom door, so to get to the bedroom I had to jump across this gap. I tried to jump this gap but missed and I fell and hit the bottom. The next thing I remember was I was floating up, I looked down and saw myself lying face down with arms spread out and I suddenly realised I was dead. I was so frightened that I woke up. I had the feelings of fear of dying and that the dog had been killed. I felt no pain.
The dream is obviously about her fear of dying, and also shows that even if one hits the ground one does not actually die, but experiences feelings of dying.
Death of child: Dreaming that your child dies can have several meanings. In some dreams a parent, much to their horror dreams of killing their child; or as one dreamer said, “I saw him jump off a bridge to his death.” This occurred at a time when her young son was making his first moves toward independence, and it was a difficult thing for the mother to face – the loss of her son. So it can easily be shown as the death of ones child in a dream. Another women describes it differently as follows:
‘I am standing outside a supermarket with heavy bags wearing my Mac, though the sun is warm. My daughter and two friends are playing music and everyone stops to listen. I start to write a song for them, but they pack up and go on a bus whilst I am still writing. I am left alone at the bus stop with my heavy burden of shopping, feeling incredibly unwanted.’ Mrs F
Mrs F was dreaming about her young daughter leaving her, and she has to grieve it, almost like a death.
This can mean a lot of other things than your actual child dying. For instance a man told me a dream that worried him enormously about walking with his wife and his young son fell down a hole and was apparently dead. But in fact he had had a terrible row with his wife that day, and it was showing the child as what they had created between them. In fact the dream child recovered as did their marriage.
Your child dying can also be a warning that your inner child is dying. We each carry some awful memories from childhood that are shown in our dreams as our child. So it is worth taking hold of your apparently dead child – nothing can actually die in our dreams – and hold it and tell it you love it. Watch any feelings that emerge as you do this and any tears you shed. See what you understand from what you feel.
Of course this could be a ‘mother’s’ dream in which your terror of losing your child is dreamt. A woman ones told me a dream in which her daughter was murdered. As we helped the woman explore her dream – not interpret it – she burst out into enormous sobs, crying that her daughter was leaving home and she was terrified of losing her. The girl was never murdered.
So ask yourself what your fears are about.
But our dream child can represent many things, and it is useful to realise that any person, object or scene in a dream is not a symbol – it is not dead thing that has to be interpreted - it is a living part of you and can only be understood by relating to it. So in this way I have found that a child can represent whatever our strongest feelings about them are. It can represent your marriage or partnership because it is what you have created between you. In that case the death of the child can depict something like an awful argument that feels as if it the marriage has died.
A child and its death can also show you how you have killed out the growing or adventurous side of you; or if you see your child as vulnerable and neding rotectionit could show you the death of that part of your feelings.
So you need to ask yourself what your dream child depicts as a living part of you.
When our child actually dies it is one of the most heartbreaking experiences we can meet. Sometimes it takes years to adjust to what has happened. Not only is the adjustment emotional and psychological, but also your way of life is often built around the person you have lost. Therefore the changes we meet can be enormous. However, we each have enormous resources of healing and ability to meet the new if we can access them. Very often there are experiences we have, or dreams, that continue our relationship with the child. Unfortunately we live in a culture that often denies the possibility of this. See Life’s Little Secrets
For instance, Dr. Morse, in his book Closer to the Light, tells of a mother who came to him because she hadn’t slept properly for 1041 nights after the death of her son. She showed him a picture of her son, but Dr Morse was suddenly called away to a ward emergency. Having dealt with the sick baby, he was writing up the notes and a nurse who had been helping said to him, ‘Who was that person who came in with you? Is he a student?’
Morse did not understand what the nurse was talking about as nobody had come into the hospital with him. As he was trying to find a pen for the notes he was writing he pulled out the photograph of the woman’s son. Immediately the nurse said, ‘That’s him. He kept trying to get your attention’.
When he returned to his office Morse asked the mother if she had ever been contacted by her son after his death. She said, ‘Oh yes. After he died, for several nights he would stand at the foot of my bed and tell me he was alright, and that I should stop crying. But that was only a crazy dream.’ However, such things are not crazy dreams, but insights into a greater reality.
After her converstation with Dr. Morse the woman slept properly for the fist time in nearly three years.
Death dancing with or meeting dark figure: Facing up to death and developing a different attitude to it – unless of course you are running away. If you turn around and face these figures you will break through to a different way of life.
Death of someone close to us: As explained above, this often refers to ones own feelings or talents that have been hurt, denied, or ‘killed out’ by events and your response to them. The following example illustrates this.
‘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.
Although the unconscious has a very real sense of its eternal nature and continuance after physical death, our conscious personality seldom shares this. Also we all we all carry within us ideas, behaviours, talents and ways of life from 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.
This aspect of a life beyond the physical is shown in many dreams. For instance a man I knew dreamt of walking with a friend of his. As they walked they came to a river. The friend crossed, but the dreamer was unable to. Even in the dream he felt crossing the river meant his friend had died. Some time later he discovered that his friend had died at about the time he experienced the dream.
As the dream points out, the friend died, but continued another type of life ‘across the river’.
A woman told a similar dream to me. Her teenage son came down to breakfast looking very unhappy. When she asked him why he said he had a dream that deeply disturbed him. In it he was walking with a friend and the friend walked through a door. When her son tried to follow he could not pass through the door. They could not find a rational explanation for the dream, but on arriving at school, her son heard that his friend had been killed in a motorbike accident on his way to school.
The river and the door are often used in this way, suggesting a change to another dimension of life usually unreachable by the living.
Idioms: Dead and buried; dead from the neck up/or neck down; dead to the world; play dead; dead to the world; dead tired; drop dead; stone dead; at death’s door; brush with death; death wish; kiss of death; sick to death.
What feelings about death does this dream highlight?
If I imagined the dream being carried forward, how would I change it? (For help doing this see Carrying the Dream Forward)
Am I changing and my past self dying?
If this is someone I know what are my feelings about them – and where are those feelings arising in me at the moment?
What part of myself have I killed?