Dreams of the deceased, dead or ghostly may not be the most common dream theme but certainly leave a lasting impression on the dreamer. I can’t remember every falling or flying dream but I can think back and recall the few dreams I have had of deceased loved ones. I have found that dreams of the dead fall into two opposite categories- nightmares or spiritually profound. I haven’t yet heard anyone recalling a dream of the deceased and describing it as “just an everyday dream” or “nothing exciting”- this dream image tends to awaken intense emotions, thoughts and perspectives.
In a very general sense, death symbolizes the end of something. Dreaming of the deceased gives an element of our past life again and it challenges our concepts of life, death, spirituality, and time. I will list for you some common symbols related to dreams of the deceased and what they tend to mean to me.
The Ghost: Ghosts can symbolize things that are haunting us. Typically associated with part of our past that has influence over us now, ghosts can help us identify something that we may need to understand so we can put it to rest. Questions I ask myself when I dream of a ghost: What is haunting me? What have I hoped to bury only to have it continue to influence me? What feels like my “unfinished business?”
The Zombie or Undead: Zombies or the undead can symbolize something the dreamer has attempted to “kill off” or discard unsuccessfully. The zombie is now a popular image in popular media and can reference specific movies for individuals. The mindless quality of the zombie is important when trying to understanding the dream. They are often symbolizing a disconnect either between heart and mind, thoughts and actions, or instincts and morals. Questions I ask myself when I dream of a Zombie: What have I attempted to suppress and discard that could have been vital for me? How am I cut off from something important in my life or within self? How can I find balance in my life and reconnect?
A Deceased Loved One: Dreams of a deceased loved one tend to be full of emotion and longing. This symbol can simply reflect a wish to see the person we have cherished and lost. This symbol can also show us our progress through the grieving progress and reflect our current thoughts and feelings about this loss. This loved one can also symbolize their continued influence over our lives. A deceased loved one can symbolize an aspect of self we associate with the individual, what they have taught us and the traits we have in common or noticed the most of the person. Questions I ask myself when I dream of a deceased loved one: What do I want this dream to mean? How am I coping with this loss? How can I continue to remember this person and continue to honor them in my waking life? What do I want to learn from this person? How can I adopt their positive traits while learning from any mistakes they have made?
Dead Monsters from Thrillers: Monsters could symbolize our fears and anxieties. Dead monsters in particular can symbolize something we had hoped to eliminate only to be haunted by it again. Characters from books and movies may also relate to the thoughts and feelings they evoked in us or what was going on in our lives when we first saw the movie or read the book. Monsters can general can show us that something has grown uncontrollably while we attempted to deny its existence and attempt to avoid instead of confront. Questions I ask myself when dreaming of dead monsters from thrillers: What overwhelming fears or anxieties am I experiencing in my waking life? What am I running away from instead of acknowledging and confronting? What thoughts and feelings did I associate with the thriller and how do they relate to what I am experiencing now in my waking life?
For many, dreams of the deceased contain a message. This message often feels important and profound. Beliefs vary regarding the source of the message. When I lost my grandfather over 10 years ago, I had a dream of him a few days after his funeral. It was a simple dream. I was dreaming a typical dream when I noticed him walking through. As he walked, he began to say something over and over to a group of us. Upon waking, I had some difficulty recalling exactly what he said although within my dream everything seemed to make perfect sense to me. The words were jumbled and related to being together and taking care of something. When I told my father of my dream, he looked surprised and told me his father always told him and his siblings to stick together and take care of each other. The personal meaning I took from this dream is that is highlighted a lesson I may have unconsciously learned from my grandfather. Some may relate these types of dreams and the messages they contain as our unconscious mind providing our conscious mind insights. Others view it as a message received directly from a loved one, a spirit, or even God. What are you beliefs? What experiences have you had with dreams of the deceased?