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The Unconscious World of Dream


Death or dying in a dream seldom refers to an actual death. Death refers to changes in one's life, or attitudes toward certain persons, or fears of dying. Here are some possibilities of what death, dying or a dead person may represent in a dream. Death is a motif and may be the central motif of the dream.

Basic meaning: The old is dying; make way for new beginnings.

(1) The dead person may be you, even though its image within the dream takes on characteristics of other persons or other things. The message may be that your old self needs to be left behind. This may mean you must stop carrying around with you the crippling burden of your past (irrational guilt-feelings or other negative self programming); and, instead, you must open yourself to what the present moment is offering. Alternatively, the 'old self' may be old attachments, habits, ambitions, values, goals; in which case the dream is telling you that the only way forward for you lies through giving these up and looking deeper within yourself for better values, etc. (where better means more in tune with your real self).

(2) What is being expressed in the dream may be your own anxiety about dying. Death is inevitable, and facing up to that fact may bring great rewards: self-acceptance; new values; a broadening of one's personality, compensating for past omissions or lopsidedness and utilizing hitherto neglected personal resources. This would be specially applicable if you are in the second half of life.

(3) If the dead person in the dream is actually a living person - and especially if that person is your partner or parent or sibling - the dream may be expressing unconscious resentment towards that person, or a desire to be indepentent of that person. Feelings toward someone close are often ambivalent (conflicting): love or respect mixed with fear or hatred or resentment or jealousy.

(4) Does the dream contain a dead person you actually knew? If so, the dream may mean you should take notice of what he or she said or did, or of what happened to him or her. The dead person is 'coming back', not to haunt you but to advise and help you (the dead person actually represents parts of your unconscious self that is wiser than your waking ego).

There's really nothing 'spooky' about meeting dead people in dreams. Such encounters may help you fulfill a long-desired dep relationship, or to put something right. For example, you may learn to forgive the person and as a consequence get peace and healing for yourself.

(5) If the gender of the dead person is stressed, the meaning may be that your masculinity/femininity or your anima/animus needs reviving (see Jungian Termnology in index main page).

(6) A dead animal in a dream almsot certainly refers to some part of you - an instinctive force, perhaps - and the dream will be telling you either that this part of you (e.g. guilt-feelings or inferioroty complex) ought to die, because its effects are wholly negative; or that it is a valuable but repressed part of yourself that you must now bring to life, to rectify an imbalance in your personality.

Reference: Eric Ackroyd

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