What Do Dreams About Death Mean?

It's often a positive sign.

Originally Published: 
Here's what it actually means if you die in your dream.
Alvaro Medina Jurado/Moment/Getty Images

You may have heard the urban legend that if someone dies in a dream, they die in real life. Of course, if you’ve ever had such a dream and lived to question its meaning, then you know that isn’t true. However, while it may not be lethal, dreaming of your own death can be a jarring and upsetting experience — and it’s natural to wonder what it means if you die in your dreams. According to dream experts, the meaning behind dreaming of your own death depends on the context of the dream and the things going on in your life at the time that you have it.

Dreaming about death is common, so while you may wake up feeling unsettled, know that it doesn’t necessarily mean anything morbid. Dreams are believed to be a way for our subconscious mind to work through the events of our waking lives and communicate with us using symbols. In other words, you shouldn’t take the events of a dream literally in most instances. Dreaming of your own death is not necessarily a premonition or sign that you’ll meet an untimely demise.

In fact, if you die in a dream, it’s often a positive sign that changes and new beginnings lie ahead. “Dreaming about dying can be very intense and scary, but death in dreams simply seeks to call the theme of transformation to your attention,” mystical practitioner MaKayla McRae tells Bustle. “Your subconscious mind brings up the theme of death in dreams to show where you are releasing things that no longer serve you in order to make space for new beginnings.”

If you’ve envisioned the end of your life during a slumber, there’s no need to wake up in a panic. Here are some explanations as to what it means when you die in your dream so you can better understand what your subconscious might be trying to communicate.

Get The Bustle Daily Newsletter

With exclusive celebrity interviews, the best new beauty trends, and earth-shattering relationship advice, our award-winning daily newsletter has everything you need to sound like a person who’s on TikTok, even if you aren’t.

By subscribing to this BDG newsletter, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

You’re Growing As A Person

If there’s a lot of change, growth, and evolution taking place in your life that relates to who you are, then you might be more likely to have dreams of death. “Death [in dreams] symbolically represents the transitional phase between two major chapters of one’s life, so this type of dream shows you where you are changing and evolving into a new life or identity,” McRae says. Through your dream, you may be seeing the symbolic death of your former self — your outdated beliefs, your old ways of doing things, and the skins you’re shedding as you grow into a more mature version of yourself.

You’re Processing Events Or Feelings From The Past

Dreaming of your own death can be jarring, but having a dream that you’ve actually already died is just as eerie. However, dreams like this can signify that you’re subconsciously trying to come to terms with past events, feelings, relationships, or circumstances that you haven’t fully processed yet. “If you are subconsciously still processing changes that have occurred in your past, you may have dreams that you’ve died,” McRae says. “It could mean you’ve already undergone a major transformation (represented by death), but you’re not fully healed or integrated into the new awareness or life experience.” If this is the case for you, it’s a good sign that you should start trying to consciously face your past and begin emotionally processing your experiences.

Your Life Is Changing In A Big Way

Dreams about dying can be a result of our internal growth, as well as big external changes or major shifts in our lives. “Dreams that you’re dying are often communicating with you about transformations that are actively happening in your waking life,” McRae says. “At the time you have this dream, you may be going through a major life change or turning point, such as changing jobs or moving to a new city.” Use dreams like this as a prompt to reflect on the current changes or difficult circumstances you’re facing in your life. They might be affecting you more than you think, so be sure to acknowledge these transitions and be compassionate with yourself as you navigate them.

You’re Dealing With A Breakup Or Loss

Losing someone you love through a breakup or a falling out can feel like a death in some ways — and during these periods, we’re also mourning the person that we were while we were in the relationship. These feelings can sometimes manifest as dying in our dreams, and it’s totally normal. “If you are still healing from a breakup, you may dream of your own death,” McRae says. “[That’s because] you’re still processing, mourning, or making sense of who you are without the identity of being in that relationship.” Take these dreams as a sign that you’re processing the loss and coming to terms with the closure you need in any relationships that have recently ended.

You Need To Make Changes In Your Life

Experiencing lots of life changes can cause us to have death dreams. But other times, dreams about your own death could be a sign that you haven’t made enough changes in your life — and that it’s time to take action. “If you’re feeling stagnant or bland about life, dreaming of dying could be a call to action to make a passionately charged change,” McRae says. “In order to have new beginnings, we sometimes need to take an active role in releasing what no longer serves us instead of being passive and waiting for change to knock at our doors.” If there are bold life changes you’ve been afraid to take the plunge on or important decisions you’ve avoided making, a dream about dying could be a sign that it’s time to make some power moves and take charge of your life.

This article was originally published on