Couple cuddling together in the bed sleeping at night
Anchiy/E+/Getty Images

This Is What It Means When You Dream About Someone Dying

As scary as they might seem, these dreams are meant to help you.

When we go to sleep at night, ideally we’d like to have pleasant dreams. You know the kind; you’re traveling to some exotic place on your bucket list, eating something decadent that you don’t have to do halfsies with anyone else, your kids aren’t bickering incessantly, and your house is completely clean. You know, dreams, not reality. But when you dream about someone dying, your nighttime slumber can look somewhat like a horror movie. What do these dreams mean — and are they a warning sign of something sinister?

We dream for rest and respite, not to wake up with our hearts racing and in a panic. But that’s what dreams about someone dying often do. “Just as birth dreams are often connected to beginnings in our life, death dreams are often connected to endings,” Lauri Loewenberg, a dream analyst and author of Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life tells Romper. “Death is the end of life, but to the subconscious dreaming mind, death is the end of life ‘as you now know it.’” Ultimately, death dreams are showing us the changes — and endings — in our own lives in the form of death. While that might sound so, you know, final, it’s actually meant to help us let go and make room for what is to come.

Dreaming About A Loved One Dying

Although any dream about death can spook you, the ones that involve loved ones can be totally terrifying. But are they an omen of what’s to come, some sort of sleepy foreshadowing? Not really, says Adora Winquist, a dream analyst. “Dreams of someone dying often represent a fear of change or abandonment in a relationship,” she says. “It is quite rare for them to represent an actual physical death.” Still, there’s a reason why you had the dream, and it’s important to understand its true meaning. Typically, a dream about a parent/friend/close colleague dying has to do with your relationship and how it might be changing. Says Winquist: “At every level of transformation there is a dying of the old-antiquated patterns of how we relate to each other in unhealthy ways, emotional responses that do not serve ourselves and each other are needed to be release, to ‘die away’ in order for us to honor the sacredness of ourselves and each other.” So while it might be jarring, having a death dream about a loved one invites you to become introspective on your relationship and how it can become better.

Dreaming About Your Child Dying

For parents, seeing your child die in a dream is enough to make you wake up sobbing and gasping for air. As you run to your child’s room and cuddle with them post-nightmare, take a deep breath and note that a dream that involves your child dying isn’t real at all. Sadly, though, they can be quite common, and ironically can occur when something good is happening for your kid. “These dreams tend to happen when the child is reaching a milestone: when they learn to crawl, when they start school, when they start dating, etc.,” explains Loewenberg. “Each milestone is the end of a phase of life and therefore shows up in our dreams as a death.” Unfortunately, these dreams tend to be very vivid because of the emotional connection we have to our kiddos, but they can still be hard to shake from your mind. Instead, try to focus on the positive and try to accept the fact that as your child matures, so will your relationship with them — for the better.

Dreaming About A Stranger Dying

Sometimes, you might have a dream of someone dying who you don’t even know. While it might seem random, it’s not. “If you dream of a stranger dying or someone you don't personally know such as a celebrity, then that person will represent a part of yourself that is going through a change,” explains Loewenberg. If you’re having a dream about a celeb or a complete stranger’s death, take some time to figure out what (if anything) their death means to you. In some way, that stranger is symbolic of something in your life, so dreaming about them (and their demise) can unlock something in your own life that you might feel that you’re losing control of, too.

Dreaming About You Dying

Ever have that dream where you’re falling and know that you’re going to die, but you don’t quite hit the ground? Yep, that’s a fun one. If you die in a dream (or get pretty close to it), it doesn’t mean that you’re headed for an early death — it means that your mind is getting you ready for your next chapter, says Winquist. “At every level of transformation, there is a dying of the old-antiquated patterns of how we relate to each other in unhealthy ways, emotional responses that do not serve ourselves and each other are needed to be released,” she says. “These patterns ‘die away’ in order for us to honor the sacredness of ourselves and each other.” Dying in a dream isn’t so much about loss of life, but the stripping away of things, habits (and perhaps people and relationships) which no longer serve your purpose in life.

Interestingly enough, the manner of death is also important. As Loewenberg points out, every detail in a dream has importance and meaning — nothing is ever random. “If the death in the dream is a natural death as opposed to a murder, then it will likely represent a change or ending that is naturally happening,” she says. “If you are quitting smoking or drinking you may dream you are being murdered because that part of you is being killed off.”

Dreams about someone dying are pretty unpleasant. But death in a dream is a metaphor for something happening in your real life. So instead of shaking off the shudders, ask yourself what’s happening in your day-to-day living or the person you dreamt about. Although it’s kind of creepy, dreaming of death is your mind’s way of waking you up, demanding you take stock of your life, and accept and make the necessary changes to make your life a total dream.