In this post, we’ll explore the meaning of seeing a dead relative in dreams, and hopefully, uncover the emotional messages these dreams possess. We will also delve into some of the cultural, psychological, and spiritual interpretations that surround dream dreaming about dead relatives.
Keep in mind that seeing a dead relative in a dream means something unique for each dreamer, but the path of approaching the dream’s meaning remains essentially the same.
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Dreams of Dead Relatives: The Hidden Messages About Yourself
In the world of dreams, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves revisiting familiar places and faces. To be in a place from our past means that something about our current psychological situation is “similar to that time and place.”
But what does it mean when these familiar faces are those of our family members who have passed away? Are they trying to communicate with us in some way? It could be, so let’s explore that.
Jung’s Thoughts on Life After Death
Jung once saw his deceased wife Emma in a dream, but she was very far off and did not seem to notice him. She was sitting at a desk, still working on her studies in the Grail Legends. Emma Jung was not able to complete that work before she died (it was finished for her by Marie-Louise von Franz). For Jung, this hinted that something about us continues after death that somehow we continue our spiritual evolution.
Dreams About Dead Relatives: Prompts for Interpretation
The psychological meaning of dead relatives in dreams first depends on the relationship we had with that person. For example our grandmothers and grandfathers mean something entirely different for most people than our distant aunts or uncles.
For the moment, I want to steer clear of the idea that the dead person in your dream is trying to communicate or visit with you. First we’re going to look at the meaning of dreams about dead relatives symbolically.
And by symbolically I mean that you have to ask yourself what does this dream say about your conscious personality? How can you use that information to become more fully conscious?
Start your dream analysis with some questions:
- What does this deceased relative mean to me?
- Describe his or her qualities and characteristics as a person.
- How was your relationship to this relative?
- Did this person elevate you or make you feel terrible about yourself?
- What is your family history and what role did this person play in it?
Dreaming of Dead Relatives: Your Dream Exploration
In answering the above questions we begin to build associations around the dream image of the dead relative. Our associations to dream images build the bridge of meaning between the conscious and the unconscious mind. Without those associations, you have no meaning.
For example, both of my grandmothers have passed. My relationships with these two women could not have been more different and so my associations about each will be very different. One of them was kind, gentle, and unconditionally loving toward me; the other one was a mean and bitter woman for most of her life.
After making your associations, you have to consider what the dream about a dead relative aims to reveal about your current situation. Keeping in mind the answers to the above questions, next take the following questions into consideration.
- What does it have to do with your current conscious situation?
- Is the dream of your dead relative offering you a correction in your attitude?
- Or is the dream about a dead person giving you some advice about what to do about a difficult situation?
If I have been especially terrible to myself in an inner dialogue and then I dream about the mean grandmother, then I know the dynamic she symbolizes was autonomously active in me. Then I can work to stop that hateful process.
Dreaming of a Deceased Beloved Grandmother
Maybe this deceased relative was a beloved grandmother who gave you the motherly love you never experienced from your own mother.
Does the grandmother return in the dream as a psychological image for that love which your soul desperately needs in the moment? That would depend on your conscious situation. If your grandmother shows love in the dream, then you need to accept that love as a psychic reality, meaning accept that love as a gift from the soul offering you what you need in a despairing moment. This is what Jung meant when he spoke about the reality of the psyche.
Do not take dreaming of your dead grandmother with any kind of desperation or sadness and especially don’t take it with a sense of painful longing. Take that love in the moment and embrace it, or rather, be embraced in it.
Dreaming of Dead Relatives: Time to Leave the Mother’s Nest
Now, consider a contrasting scenario. Within a dream, a cherished grandmother emerges. This grandmother had previously provided the nurturing love that the dreamer never experienced from her own mother, as mentioned earlier. However, within this dream, an unusual occurrence unfolds as the dreamer finds herself in her grandmother’s home, only to be pushed out the door with her grandmother insisting that she must depart.
It’s important to note that in reality, the dreamer’s beloved grandmother would never have taken such an action. Yet, this dream holds significant psychological symbolism. What might this signify?
As it turns out, the dreamer had formed an intense psychological attachment to her grandmother, almost as a substitute mother figure, even though her grandmother had long passed away. The dreamer found it difficult to let go of the sense of loss surrounding her grandmother and frequently yearned for her presence.
In this dream, the grandmother’s appearance takes on a deeper meaning. In psychological terms, it becomes evident that the dreamer needs to sever this unhealthy attachment. To fully embrace her identity as a woman, she must confront the fact that the love her grandmother once provided resides as an inherent facet within her own soul. This type of love is enduring and always accessible, serving as a foundation upon which she can build her own sense of self.
If the dreamer can come to terms with that inner sense of love, the psychological attachment is broken. The woman can live her life without feeling the emptiness of loss. That’s a good thing and it in no way diminishes the love between her and her grandmother.
Dreaming of Nasty Relatives
If the departed family member who appears in your dreams was someone who caused you distress, the dream is conveying that your current psychological state mirrors what this person imposed upon you. It’s not suggesting that your deceased relative is returning to haunt you, but rather highlighting how your inner life is influenced by the negative psychological patterns created by this individual.
I often advise my clients to challenge and counteract this internal negative dialogue because it doesn’t truly represent their own thoughts but rather embodies an autonomous psychological pattern established through repetitive negative interactions.
The key point here is to regard the dead relative in your dream as a facet of your psyche—a psychological reality. These figures are both a part of you and, simultaneously, a distinct psychological presence that you need to confront.
A more complex issue illuminated by dreams featuring deceased relatives pertains to ancestral heritage. It raises questions about the inherited trauma and karma we carry and the potential for healing these aspects through more conscious living.
Dreams About Dead Father
When we delve into the symbolic representation of fathers, we are essentially exploring the embodiment of a consciousness principle. This principle, in essence, signifies our overarching approach to life—a mindset that governs our habitual thoughts and reactions, whether directed towards external or internal experiences.
In a broader context, the archetype of a father often embodies a conventional mode of thinking. This conventional mindset is not necessarily one’s own unique perspective; rather, it’s an adopted way of thinking. When questioned about their beliefs, individuals harboring this mindset tend to regurgitate what they’ve gleaned from news sources or publications, rather than expressing genuine, individual opinions.
It’s crucial to acknowledge that our fathers wield a profound influence over our conscious and unconscious attitudes toward life. As we progress towards psychological adulthood, a pivotal aspect involves gradually disentangling ourselves from our fathers’ influence. Ultimately, we must evolve into independent beings, shaping our thoughts and actions in alignment with our true selves.
The interpretation of your dream involving your father hinges largely on the nature of your relationship with him. This connection serves as the foundation upon which you must begin to assess how it has impacted your conscious existence.
Dreams About Sick Fathers
A woman shared the following dream about her dead father:
My father passed away earlier this year. He died of heart issues. Lately, I had a dream where he was in physical pain, very weak, and asking for help.
In her dream, her father appears physically distressed, weakened, and in need of assistance. If we extend this portrayal of the father to symbolize a facet of her inner consciousness, it suggests a state of vulnerability and a plea for help.
This motif bears a striking resemblance to the beginnings of many fairy tales, where a father or king falls gravely ill. Subsequently, these tales often feature an adventure that leads to the emergence of a new ruler, symbolizing a psychological transformation within an individual’s consciousness.
Here lies the crux of the contemplation of such a dream: How strong is your commitment to your unique perspective on life? Do your thoughts on life truly reflect your own beliefs, or have you unwittingly embraced your father’s or some other conventional viewpoint?
The dream’s message appears to underscore a fragility in your current approach to navigating the world. Consequently, you are presented with a challenge—a call to embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-expression that authentically aligns with your life’s path.
Dreams about Dead Spouses
A woman shared a dream about her late husband leading somewhere, but getting lost in the journey. Ultimately, the significance of such a dream hinges on the nature of your relationship with your late spouse. Let’s assume that you shared a positive and mutually supportive connection, as is the case in many marriages. In the psychology of Carl Jung, we call that a compensatory relationship.
The true value of such compensatory relationships becomes evident when we realize that our partners often reflect aspects of our psyche that remain hidden to us, known as projections.
In light of this, once your spouse has passed away, it’s essential to retract any projections you may have placed on him and acknowledge these qualities within yourself that he once mirrored.
The dream seems to imply that you may not have fully completed this process, as you continue to be influenced by his presence on some level. This influence can manifest either consciously or subconsciously, but it’s vital to understand that he can no longer serve as your guiding force.
This marks a point in your journey where your paths diverge for the time being. It’s crucial to recognize that he functioned as a mirror for you, reflecting back elements of yourself. Reclaiming these projections and integrating them within yourself is the key to achieving wholeness and leading a more consciously aware life.
Want to learn more about working with dreams or Jungian Psychology?
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