Can Dreams Foretell Death?

Grim Reaper

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It is quite common to dream about the death of someone close such as friend or relative.  These dreams can be very upsetting because the natural tendency, especially for those who have not observed dreams in depth, is to assume the dream has a literal meaning.  Therefore, the dreamer will often mistakenly assume the person in the dream who died will really die.  In many, and perhaps in a majority of cases, this is not the meaning of the dream.  So what does the dream mean?  In fact, the dream could have one or many meanings!

Dreams as a Reflection of One’s Own Energy

Dreams can come from many sources and have different levels of meaning but one thing is certain: Dreams always have a spiritual meaning in addition to possible literal, physical or emotional meanings.  It is important to consider a death dream first from the spiritual perspective and consider that everything in the dream is representative of energies within oneself.  So one might ask a question like the following that fills in the blanks with a descriptive adjective (happy, ambitious, generous, etc.) such as:

This _______ person reminds me of times when I am ________.  Lately, I haven’t been so _____.  Could this dream mean that that part of me has died or is dying?  Why?  Does the dream give clues?  How does the person die in the dream?  Is something similar happening to me right now?

Dreams that Make a Statement on Our Relationships

Dreams can also give us insight into our relationships with people.  To dream of someone dying may be telling us that our relationship with that person is dying or changing so dramatically that it may be unrecognizable.  It is important to reflect on the relationship and ask if the relationship might be ending or changing dramatically and perhaps make choices that will resuscitate or enrich the relationship, if that is desired.

Dreams that Foretell the Future

There are times indeed when dreams do foretell the actual death of a person, often in a graphic and realistic manner that also comes true.  I had a dream of watching my mother die in the arms of my father.  As soon as I had the dream, I “knew” this dream was a predictive one.  I made the decision to go back to the family home to visit with my parents, suspecting this might be the last chance I would have to see my mother.  I was glad I did because a short while after she passed away. What surprised me was that she died just as my dream indicated, in the arms of my father.  It was as if I had been a fly on the wall and had seen it all transpire ahead of time.

It is possible to also see one’s own death ahead of time.  Abraham Lincoln had a famous dream just a few days before he died of seeing his coffin laid in state in the White House.  A person may also dream about the Grim Reaper visiting, or an angel or possibly a relative who has already passed come to get the dreamer.  Again, the dreamer usually knows at a deep level the meaning of this kind of dream.

So when you dream of someone dying, go through the reflection process above and don’t let false or neurotic fears carry you away.  Chances are, if your dream is a predictive one, you will know it at the gut level, giving you a chance to prepare for the end.

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Many Mansions: Dreams of a Dying Young Man

In my Father's house, there are many mansions...

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Because so many dreams concern themselves with the major transitions in life, dreams not only help us prepare for life, but they also prepare us for death.  There are grief dreams which prepare us for the death of another person or help us through and after that loss.  However, there are also dreams which prepare us for when our time comes.

I am reminded of the dreams of a terminally ill young man.    He was a hospital patient with a rare disease and wanted to share his dreams before he died.  I was asked to come and talk with him because I had recently taught a class at that same hospital on the relationship of dreams to health and well-being.

When I met with him he had perhaps several weeks to live.  He was pale and weak.  He thanked me for coming and said he just wanted to talk to someone who appreciated dreams because he valued his own and wanted someone who would not take his remarks lightly.  Often it is hard to find people who take dreams seriously, and one certainly doesn’t want to be laughed at or about when sharing a dream.  So I told him that I had studied dreams for many years and had taught classes on the subject.  I was very interested in his dreams and would be glad to listen.

Dreams of Many Mansions

The young man told me about a series of dreams he had in the weeks before about seeing a city of many gorgeous homes and magnificent buildings.  He thought that he would be going where those buildings were and live there.  I asked him how he felt about this.  He said the dreams were so beautiful that he wanted to be there.  He said the dreams made him feel comfortable.

Quite often, images in dreams with remind one of imagery in the Bible; however, at the time, I didn’t connect the imagery of many beautiful homes and buildings to Jesus’ quote (John 14:2) that in…”in my Father’s house there are many mansions…” but somehow, I think the young man did.  He passed away a few weeks later.   I would like to think he is there in those mansions.  Certainly, his dream comforted me, fulfilling another role of dreams:  that they often have meanings for others besides the dreamer.

Dreaming of Someone’s Death: What Can Be Done?

Dream of Someone Dy8ing

The Knight’s Death by Antonio de Pereda

Having recorded my dreams for over 35 years, I can refer to a number of dreams that made me aware beforehand someone was going to die. Recently, I had another one of those dreams and they are unsettling—no matter how long or well you have worked with dreams. It is a fairly common phenomenon so I have decided to share some reflections on my experience:

The Dream Could be Symbolic

Take heart in that not every dream about someone dying means that person is going to die in the near future. It may be suggesting your relationship with that person is undergoing a change and will not remain the same. It may also mean that a part of you, which that person symbolizes, is dying. For example, you dream about your young 20-something neighbor dying might mean your relationship with that person is going through a death and rebirth or that the 20-something in you is dying as you see the first gray hairs in the mirror. Your gut instinct will tell you if your dream means any of these two things.

When the Dream is Prophetic of a Real Death

However, some dreams are literal, and one such dream could really mean the 20-something will die. Since every dream is a gift even when we would rather not get the information contained in these letters from the Unconscious; remember that a dream about someone dying was given for the reason such as to help you to prepare for the event or better appreciate the person while he or she is still alive. For example, I dreamed of my father’s and mother’s deaths long before these events happened. I even saw in a dream how my mother would die—in the arms of my father. The sadness in my heart told me these dreams where prophetic. Here is how I responded to the dreams:

  • I made it a point to visit my parents and spend quality time with them.
  • I tried to do little and big things that meant something to them.
  • I told them I loved them and communicated other important things I needed to say.
  • I might add that if I were in someway responsible for my parents’ trust fund or end of life directive, I would have asked them if all those things were in order, if I didn’t know.

When my parents did pass, I felt no regrets and the inner critic saying, “You should have done…” As a result my grief was clean, viewing it as a privilege to mourn and honor these two amazing people who brought me into the world.

So when I had the dream of a close friend dying, and felt in my gut that this dream indicated she might really die at some point in the future, I now focus on spending quality time with this person, doing fun things we like to do. I try to show appreciation for what she does for me. I have not told her about my dream because I think it would be pointless. Since in my dream she died of natural causes and not from a plane or car accident, there is nothing I can do to prevent her possible death other than offer the usual friend’s advice (when appropriate) about eating well, exercising and getting a good night’s rest.

In Dead Men Do Tell Tales, teen detective Ashlynn has learned to work with dreams about someone dying. In this case, she is able to see the dream as a messenger to help her police father solve a crime.