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Seeing dead people in dreams

Updated on November 24, 2016

If you are seeing dead people in your dreams, know that it is a common experience. By dead, I mean someone who has passed away (not someone who is currently alive that you dream is dead ). By dreaming of someone who has departed this life, we are, no doubt, trying to make sense of the passing; but, because dreams are so multi-faceted, here are some of the different ways we can look at a dream about a dead person, based on my own experience.

Emotional processing

Let's face it, the death of a loved one can be traumatic and the grieving process intense, so much so that it creates an overload on the psyche's circuits. If we were to deal with the voltage of grief in one sitting, we might short out emotionally. So, the subconscious mind now is doing overtime, helping us to process and to come to terms with the event and to integrate it into our experience. Our dreams give it free reign to express, especially when we are unable to do so in our waking life.

My younger brother's death from cancer at 18 was a great tragedy for myself and my family. In the years after, I would often see him in my dreams, where he appeared alive and healthy. Sometimes, I would dream that the doctors had made a mistake, that he didn't have cancer. Sometimes, even when I wasn't aware that I had dreamed of him, I would talk to him in my sleep, according to an ex-boyfriend. I did have a lot of unresolved grief around his death, which at the time, I couldn't adequately deal with, since I was a teenager myself when he died. In time, the frequency of the dreams about him decreased. Yet once in a while, once in a very long while, some 35 years later, I still seem him in my dreams.

Seeing dead people in dreams: Message from beyond the grave?

Do you believe in life after death? If you do, or if you might, then you are probably open to the possibility that your departed loved one is trying to communicate with you from beyond the grave. During the night, I believe the veils between the worlds disappear, that the three dimensions of time and space relax, and we can perceive what we are unable to during our waking hours.

Indeed, I believe the the spirit of the loved one is trying to communicate with us in some way. I think in many cases, they are trying to tell us they are OK, that all is well on the other side. I've even heard stories of the spirit of a loved one remarking that there is no need to grieve, or live in the past, for the grief keeps the spirit of the dead person closer to earth in the astral plane.

On the other hand, I've heard some stories of the spirit of a dead person who appeared in a dream and had some information about "the insurance policy" in the safety deposit box. Think what you will. You can only go by your own experience.

Charateristic of the dead person

If you are not in grief mode, perhaps seeing a departed loved one in your dream conveys a symbolic message. Ask yourself, what characteristics did that person embody? Who in my life today is like that? When someone close dies, we sometimes adopt some of his/her traits. If you are dreaming of someone who has passed away, ask yourself would the traits of this person serve me? Are these traits ones that I have internalized, that I express today? Is this a trait I need to express?

The answer to these questions, of course, depends on you. Your own innate intelligence will tell you when you are right. Some people refer to this as the "aha" moment. The only way to describe "aha" is the click, (of course..that's right), the light bulb (as in a light pops on in your mind's eye). Perhaps there is another message. Again, only you know for sure.

Personally, I rather hesitate to apply any meanings that come from a dream dictionary. Perhaps these lexicons of the psyche and spirit can give us some clues or send us in the right direction but, since you are the dreamer, then you have to become acquainted with your own internal language and symbols.

Revisiting the past

While I was doing graduate work in education, I occasionally dreamed of my favorite instructor from Journalism school. He had passed away some ten years earlier, but in the dream, he was still alive, still the the Dean of the Applied Arts division, and still occupying his office. I had learned a lot from him, and considered him to be a role model as both a journalist and as a teacher. I believed I had taken part of his essence with me on my own career path as a writer and a teacher. While I was doing the graduate work in online education, I had been reflecting a lot on the past, about where I was coming from. Meanwhile, I was also moving to a new future. Perhaps, this nocturnal vignette was more symbolic of the past, than the present, and helped me put my previous careers to rest.

Getting ready to pass

Both my grandmothers, a few short days before they passed away, reported dreaming about their own parents and grandparents who had long ago left this world. In their dreams, their long departed relatives appeared to be waiting for them on the other side, even beckoning them to come. I have read and heard stories that sometimes, as one is preparing to depart this life, the spirits of their elders do appear as if to usher them along the journey into the afterlife.

No exact answers

The mind is complex. The only way to gauge anything with respect to the meaning of any type of dream is through your own experience. Death is a universal experience which affects the living in many ways. Depending on you, your personality, your relationship with the person who has passed on, and how affected by the passing you were, seeing dead people in dreams will have different meanings. Ultimately, only you can interpret what it all means, and what the connection is to your waking life.

Tell me about your experience. Do you dream of people near and dear who have passed away?

Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    5 years ago

    Hi many people who has this talent can visit their dead ones in their dreams. I am 47 and I am living with it. Can see them, talk to them. Best part is that you never miss them even if they are no more living.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    I'm really confused. Around 2 years ago my step dad passed away. I've just awoken from a terrible nightmare. Ill type it from the beginning.

    I was sat in my mums front room with 2 friends and the father of child (who I speak to but he doesn't see his daughter) and my daughter. My mums current boyfriend comes in the house moaning that me and my daughter there, I get up off the sofa to be nosey as to what he is saying to my mum to only be faced with my step dad who is rather angry and tries to attack me. I go back into the front room (lounge) and sit by my ex boyfriend/daughters father to look at him and see he's not who he was at the start, he's now my deceased friend who I care about a lot. My friend passed 5 years ago and he was protecting me from my step dad in my dream. It scared me that much I've woke up shaking and in tears. What does this mean. Its freaked me out as I've never experienced this before, the faces of my daughters father my step dad and my friend were very clear and it felt so real. Any help on telling me what this could mean?

  • Rhonda_M profile imageAUTHOR

    Rhonda Malomet 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Thanks so much for your kind remarks. Glad the hub gave you some information and comfort

  • epigramman profile image


    7 years ago

    .....hello my fellow Canadian - I love your fine array of hub topics and subjects and you write with passion and intelligence. This particular title caught my eye - and it was presented with great research, informative text and arresting images/videos.

    My mum and dad have both passed on back in 1992 and 2004 respectively so from time to time I dream of both my parents and my mum has visited me 6 times in the last 2 years as she moves things around in this family cottage where I live - sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time ontario canada on this sunday evening 10:43pm


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