What Does It Mean When You Dream About Death?

If you dream about death, it obviously means you're alive because corpses can't dream. The significance beyond that is subject to interpretation, which is of course subjective. If you ask dead dream interpreter and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, he'd say nothing because, again, he's dead. But back when he was alive he might have replied, "Your mother." Just kidding. His level of analysis wasn't that shallow. He would have delved deep into your mother until he realized that he really wanted to go deep into his own mother and was just projecting. More importantly, he might have argued, as he did in The Interpretation of Dreams, that "a dream is the fulfillment of a wish."

You might be wishing for a bit of clarification, so let's fulfill that dream. Freud didn't always see the wish fulfillment in dreams literally. For instance, if you dreamed that someone you loved fatally gagged on a cigar, that wouldn't necessarily mean you want to murder them for blowing cigar smoke in your face. According to Freud, if you feel "no sorrow" in the sequence, it might just mean you miss the person. If you feel deep grief, then on some level you wish that individual would die or at least did wish it at some point. For some people that might be close, but no cigar. Or maybe you think Freud was just blowing smoke with dream mumbo jumbo and totally missed the mark. What do modern psychologists say?

What dreams may come randomly

As Psychology Today points out, Freud's theories didn't exactly age well. Competing dream theories emerged hoping to bury Freud's vision of the unconscious. Among the most popular was the activation-synthesis model, whereby your brain creates a composite of experiences that you might recognize in daily life. So you would see a false procession of images, or in this case maybe a funeral procession, that doesn't really mean anything beyond the fact that your brain slapped it together after raiding the pantry of your unconscious for content. Clinical psychology professor Dr. Seth J. Gillihan likens dreaming to watching television, just a collection of figments in your head. So maybe trying to interpret dreams about death is a dead end.