Dreams about Dead People
Dreams about People We Know who have Died – Dreams about a Dead Person – Dreams about a Dead Husband or Wife – Dreams about a Dead Mother - Dreams about a Dead Child – Summary of after death experience – Coming back to earth
Dreams in which dead people appear are sometimes expressive of our attempts to deal with our feelings, guilt or anger in connection with the person who died; or our own feelings about death. When someone close to us dies we go through a period of change from relating to them as an external reality, to meeting and accepting them as alive in our memories and inner life.
But dead people can simply be people from our past. Considering that the major part of our learning and experience occur in relationship to other people, such learning and experience can be represented by characters from the past. For instance a first boyfriend in a dream would depict all the emotions and struggles we met in that relationship, and what we learned from it or took away from it that still influences present relationships. Therefore dreaming often of people we knew in the past would suggest that past experiences or lessons are very active at the moment, or we are reviewing those areas of our life. A woman who had emigrated to Britain from a very different cultural background frequently dreamt, even twenty years afterwards, of people she knew in her native country. This shows her still very much in contact with her own cultural values and experiences.
Example: ‘My husband’s mother, no longer alive, came and slid her arms carefully under me and lifted me up. I shouted ‘Put me down! Put me down! I don’t want to go yet.’ She carefully lowered me onto the bed and disappeared.’ E. H. – In this example the dreamer is feeling fear about being carried off by death.
Example: ‘A dark grey sugar loaf form materialised. This pillar lightened in shade as I watched. It didn’t move. I began to think it was Mrs. Molten who died in 1956. The feeling grew stronger but still the colour lightened. Then it bent over and kissed my head. In that instant I knew it WAS my mother. An ecstatic joy and happiness such as I have never known on earth suffused me. That happiness remained constantly in mind for the next few days.’ Mr M.
Here the dreamer has not only come to terms with his mother’s and his own death, but also found this inner reality.
Example: ‘A couple of months ago as I was waking I felt my husband’s arm across me and most realistically experienced my hand wrapping around his arm and turning toward him which I had done so often in his lifetime and saying ‘I thought you had died. Thank God you have not.’ Then I awoke alone and terribly shaken.’ Mrs I. – The example both shows the resolution of the loss, but also the paradox felt at realising the meeting was an inner reality.
A critic might say this is only a dream in which a lonely woman is replaying memories of her dead husband’s presence for her own comfort. Thus her disappointment on being disillusioned. Whatever our opinion, the women has within her such memories to replay. These are a reality. The inner reality is of what experience was left within her from the relationship. Her challenge is whether she can meet this treasure with its share of pain, and draw out of it the essence which enriches her own being. That is the spiritual life of her husband. The ‘aliveness’ of her husband in that sense is also social, because many other people share memories of the same person. What arises into their own lives from such memories, is the observable influence of the now dead person. But the dead also touch us more mysteriously, as in the next example. See: Dead Husband or Ex
Example: In a recent news program on television, a man who survived the Japanese prisoner of war camp in Singapore had been given a photograph of children by a dying soldier he did not know. The man had asked him to tell his family of his death, but did not give his name. The photograph was kept for forty odd years, the man still wanting to complete his promise but not know how. One night he dreamt he was told the man’s name. Enquiries soon found the family of the man, who had an identical photograph.
This can represent some area of your life that has ‘died’. It can refer to death of feelings, such as hopelessness in connection with relationship and the loss of feelings about someone; the depression that follows big changes in your life such as loss of a loved partner, job, or child. It can also reflect the sense you have of your life in general, that it is without the stimulus of motivation and satisfaction, as when one feels oneself in a ‘going nowhere’ relationship or life situation. The dead person in the dream may link several of these feelings together, as symbols often represent huge areas of our experience. So the dead person my be a part of oneself you want to leave behind, to die out.
Some dreams are so clearly about the person who died. Here is an example of such a dream by a young child.
With his brothers and friends he went to bathe in a mill pool. He was only four or five at the time, and could not swim. In the recklessness of their-play, one of the children pushed him into deeper water. At that moment, the mill gates opened and water rushed through carrying him along. He was drowned – but some adults who were hastily called to the scene managed to pull him out and revive him.
The boy said that as he went under the water he felt himself sinking down and down into darkness. Then there was a change and he felt himself rising up slowly until at last he rose to the surface.
He was in a huge sea. Around him, other people were also surfacing, and all were being gradually washed towards the nearby shore. There on the beach, people waited, and greeted those who were brought to them by the sea.
And as he himself drew near there on a small promontory were his grandparents waiting to welcome him – and in front – his mother, and she bent to draw him into her arms. She took hold of his hands and as she did so, a cross around her neck swung before his face. Sparkling in it were seven stones. But at that moment, something seemed to pull him away, and he sank into the sea and at last awoke on the riverbank.
The other half of the Story
At the conclusion of the story, his father’s condescending smile vanished. They were now at home and his father left the room, obviously deeply moved. Only years later did he tell his son the other half of the story.
The boy’s mother had died when her son was tiny and she had died on her birthday. For many weeks before, her husband had saved for a special present which he had kept secret. On her death, heart-broken, he had crept down to the coffin in the middle of the night, unscrewed the lid and given the present to his dead wife. It was a cross with seven stones, and the secret of it had been buried with her.
Putting together a picture of many such death experiences, we can begin to see a general view of what it might be like, what it certainly is for some, to die.
First of all comes a lessening and eventual disappearance of bodily sensations. Although all pain and physical awareness goes, most people are still conscious of their physical surroundings and of other people. In fact they often watch their own body breathe its last struggling breaths.
Usually people see themselves in a body, but it’s sometimes more perfect than the body they have just left. Their perceptions are nearly always enormously heightened in many ways. There seems to be no sensation of gravity or weight – the whole room or area can be seen instantaneously, as if with circular vision, and there is an awareness of the thoughts and emotions of those present.
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 meeting become easier.
But as with the example above, there are many cases where people meet their dead in dreams and have tremendous assurance.
As with other ‘dead person’ dreams they usually show how we are working out or unfolding our relationship with them. They can be wonderfully confirming of continued existence.
Example: ‘A dark grey sugar loaf form materialised. This pillar lightened in shade as I watched. It didn’t move. I began to think it was Mrs. Molten who died in 1956. The feeling grew stronger but still the colour lightened. Then it bent over and kissed my head. In that instant I knew it WAS my mother. An ecstatic joy and happiness such as I have never known on earth suffused me. That happiness remained constantly in mind for the next few days.’ Mr. M.
When our child 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.
The example below shows how this can be possible.
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 conversation with Dr. Morse the woman slept properly for the fist time in nearly three years.
Because after death we are still in a dream like existence, we tend to create around us those things we expect to see or experience. So someone who has no previous information about death may wander around for awhile confused. A Christian may see Christ welcoming them, so the beginnings are very varied, and a Buddhist might meet Buddha, or a Muslim might see Muhammad. But there is some sort of life review. This is about harvesting all of value from the life experience. Not only do we gathered the lessons we learned from our life, but we also relive it moment by moment, feeling and reviewing our own feelings, but also the feelings we engendered in others. But because we are no longer living a life in three dimensions and time, it will be an all at once experience, not stretched over time.
This can be quite a trial considering the life we have lived. But it is not a judgement from outside us, but a self judgement of the quality of our life. We need to pass through this because after death we have left the physical world and moving toward the spiritual. We can see this as the Big Self; the Self with Enormous Love. But there is an enormous transition taking place at death. We lived within a body, and now without it we have to be ready for life without it in what is called the spirit world. That is why the life review is necessary. All our earthly experience has to be put through a transformation to make it fit for a wider life. The wider life works through universal connections, and the less we personally can connect with the universal the less fit we are for the universal life.
Something that I have noticed is that some people believe, and therefore experience, that ‘heaven’ is exactly like life on earth except better. They see it as having houses and living much the same way. But that is not really the whole truth, because just as our body grows and changes, so do we in the after death state.
It seems as if there is a great difference between existing in a body and surviving in the grand world of the spirit. For in the spirit world there has to be found something that will link the life with giving and receiving from others, and of course the integration with a greater purpose.
Many people say they go along a tunnel toward a great light, and then a great spirit leads them through life review. Others go through a door to the light, and others go up a flight of grand stairs.
Having lost their body and its appetites there may be a period of adaptation to a life in a world without boundaries. Also because the spirit world is similar to the world of dreams, you create around you an environment made up of your own inner state. So if you are full of hate, murderous impulses and selfishness, you create a world like that; usually called hell. We are not ‘cast into hell’ we create it ourselves.
The same with heaven, it is created out of all the attitudes and ideas and feelings that are in harmony with the way the universe works or is. As a friend told me after his death, “I cannot escape myself. This is because everywhere I look is like a mirror. Every direction I find a reflection of me. It is three-dimensional. It doesn’t matter if I look up or down, left or right, all I see are expressions of who I am.”
At first one will look much as you did at death, except if you are old or ill, then you have quickly gained a more youthful and healthy appearance. But of course that is only your physical shape, and you will create that because that is who you think you are. But a great and probably slow swing over will occur. Because your body is gone, and you are moving toward the spiritual being that has always stood behind your life and witnessed it and given it impulses to try to live out, so gradually you may lose any sense of being male or female.
It is possible some people will not make it that far, but will go into a sleep state until their next life in the body. But if they can maintain consciousness as they meet these changes they will slowly become a greater being, and have an awareness that could be seen as super human, touching all around them. This is why some dead relatives come back to us in dreams and visions and tell us things they would never have normally been capable of knowing.
Another conversation with a dead friend stated some of this:
I seems to me that things are different for me now. I feel something that is difficult to understand. I seem to be getting less and less of the me I knew; yet at the same time more of who I am. More of me is being lost, but at the same time more of me is was being gained. A strange paradox.
Then there is the going beyond even more barriers toward what can be called real spiritual awareness.
In the next region, one sees how the person’s life has accorded not only with their own Self, but with the ‘true being of the world’. We see ourselves as we exist, in or out of harmony with that world consciousness, that essence of all beings, sometimes called the Christ, or Krishna, or Buddha. Here is the judging, the self judging, of the ‘quick and the dead.’
And finally, in this withdrawal, the seventh region is reached, ‘quick or dead’, asleep or awake to the highest in us. ‘The man stands here’ says Steiner, ‘in the presence of the “Life-kernels”, which have been transplanted from higher worlds, in order that in them they may fulfil their tasks.’ These ‘tasks’, expressing through the self, mediated by the soul, and materialised by the body, usually motivate us unconsciously. In this region, if consciousness remains, we know ourselves as the whole cosmos of sun, moon, planets, and stars; as all beings, creatures and kingdoms. When we look at these through our physical eyes, we are looking at our own wholeness. The ‘Life kernel’ is the doorway to other ‘cosmic beings’. ‘The life between death and a new birth, and is really a living through the world of stars: but this means, through the spirit of the world of stars,’ not the physical stars.
Having made this ascent to the innermost of our nature, the essence of the whole cosmos, there now comes for most of us, a return to a fresh physical experience.
There awakens a ‘desire’ or direction, to perfect one’s own being and that of the earth. ‘Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven,’ is an impulse from this region. Depending upon what fruits were brought to each region, this descent enables certain things, qualities or strengths to be ‘claimed’ from each level of our being. A new spiritual ‘seed’ or ‘germ’ is fashioned which will play its part in fashioning our body. The essence of the future personality chooses the hereditary line and its parents. Steiner says the parents provide a seed bed of physical substance, impregnated with their own characteristics of body and psyche. At conception, the material substance is broken down into the germinal level of chaos, in which all physical form is dissolved. The spirit ‘germ’ of the new being takes hold of this.
At birth the ‘germ’ of the future personality and body, is clothed with physical substance drawn from the parents, along with inherited temperamental qualities. Working with these as materials is the essence of the past life and death experience. This spiritual impulse, takes the ‘model’ given by the parents, and works into it the pattern it brings from its central experience. So there comes into being, through life and death, another life upon the earth.
Just as there was a reliving of life at death, so just prior to birth there is a reliving of death. ‘He sees a tableau which this time displays all the hindrances he must remove, if his evolution is to make further progress. And what he sees becomes the starting point of forces that he must carry with him into a new life. See Life and Death; Steiner Life after death
Another conversation with a dead friend provided the following information.
I am in process of creating a new life. But this is something like a work of art, not however, as we think of it with brush and paint. I felt it like a constant rise and fall of possibilities and forms that I, the Spirit I, was giving birth to. As one rose it expressed a certain quality, and this was in some way compared, or its harmonic compared, with all that existed in the changing spiritual and physical world. There was as yet no total interface between what was being created in this way, and what was expressed by the changing worlds. So I was gradually sifting the emphasis of all it contained from life experience and its possible future connections with physical life, moving toward a harmonic unity. It was explained to me that the unity would be a real connection with time, place, parents and the life that would emerge from them. When that harmonic unity was made the new life would begin.
Useful Questions and Hints:
Have I dreamt of any dead person?
How did I react to the dream?
Can I accept that we have an inner world?