Death is a heavy topic which we must address in longform. When I hear from folks who have just seen death in dreams of family or friends, they are usually greatly disturbed. I’ve gone through that experience dozens of times and I know how unsettling that can be. It really gets to you, especially when it’s one of your children! Or your husband! Or parents! I’ve seen in dreams a daughter be strangled by tent ropes, my husband lying dead in the street next to another woman, my mother-in-law dead on the floor, my mother nearly dead in a kitchen sink, etc.
Without experience or training in the matter, we naturally assume that these dreams are pretty literal, somehow prophetically telling us of the impending doom of someone we love. We wonder if this will happen, or if there’s anything we can do to change it.
A more likely assumption is that these dreams are not coming from a supernatural source at all, that they reveal hidden fears we hold deeply in our souls. After all, doesn’t every mom cling tightly to the well-being of her children, and hope or perhaps pray for their continual protection?
Some Christian dreamers move right to the assumption that anything that feels bad was sent from Hell in dreams in order to harass us.
From my perspective, having dedicated 13 years of my life to the study of dreams and visions, some of the options listed above are worth considering when you are trying to figure out what to do with a traumatic dream about someone’s death. But the question remains, how can I tell if a death dream has a spiritual origin or a natural/soulish one? In other words, is it prophetic or just pathetic?
I give this topic a more complete look in the BREAKING THE DREAM CODE workshop of the MAXIMIZING YOUR NIGHT LIFE SERIES. But for now, let me offer some initial thoughts.
- The focus of the dream may be influenced by your PERSONAL SPIRITUAL CONDITION. I know a deeply devoted pastor who shepherded a flock, so to speak, and believed in the regular supernatural work of the Spirit. He was awakened early one morning after a dream depicting his brother being beheaded in a horrible automobile accident involving a semi on a winding mountainous road. The pastor immediately began fervent extended intercession on behalf of his brother. When he felt a release in his spirit, he called his brother who was clearly shaken from hearing of the dream and prayer. The brother had just then been traveling down such a road with his wife when they felt suddenly led to stop off at an odd time at a local café. When they headed back out, just beyond the first curve in the road was the gruesome accident just as it was later described by the pastor. It doesn’t take much imagination to conclude that the dream was a literal warning and that the pastor was able to affect the outcome with spiritual weapons. This man of the cloth describes similar incidents involving members of his congregation, one where his letter to a soldier made the difference. Keep in mind, however, that unless your spiritual calling and authority can be described much like this one, you may not be provided this level of prophetic insight in order to intervene in situations where you are called to make the difference.
- 2. With regard to dreams coming from the soul or from an evil source, there is no simple formula to determine that, but with the gathering of the context and details, the source can almost always be identified. I address this critical question in the FOUNDATIONS IN DREAM INTERPRETATION seminar
- Identifying the source of a dream is the foundation upon which responding to the dreams affectively is built. (And, by the way, if you think that because you are religious or a Christian that you are immune from hellish attacks, keep studying your scriptures.)
Now, finally, take comfort in knowing that the vast majority prophetic dreams depicting death are NOT LITERAL! There’s a good chance that the dream may not even be about that person. These dreams are usually about something ending, and usually something ending in YOUR life. And that means something new is going to begin; and it’s usually an improvement!
- And that brings up resurrection in dreams. Resurrection, then signifies that something is going to return, come to live again, but not literally someone who has deceased. It would refer to their spirit of integrity for instance, what they were about, what they did with their lives, what they would wish now.
Death is a topic we prefer to avoid, but it comes up in dreams, and sometime feels quite horrific. But remember: Most dreams which involve people dying are not bad omens or early warnings of the impending doom of someone you love!
Let’s focus for a moment on the few dreams that actually prophetically give us advance notice of inevitable death. Because dying is arguably the most difficult thing to go through in this life (whether you’re the participant or the observer), just prior to death is an especially critical time to receive supernatural insight, if that’s possible, and I think it is. I happen to believe that we will not get this kind of heads-up unless our spirits are able to handle it, and unless there is some good purpose in it such as comfort.
When I received repeated dreams informing me of my father’s upcoming death, even with 8 years studying dreams, I wanted to interpret some dreams my way. My judgment was clouded by my desires. My dad was my John Wayne, and I believed in the unlimited supernatural power of prayer.
But there may be a thing some call destiny involved. If you believe the words of the Bible or Torah, you will read of it there under the topic of God’s will, providence, or soverienty. But that brings more questions. Which is true- Calvinism or Arminianism? Which- the Sovereignty of God or the Free Will of Man? Both? Neither? And is there even a western-style God anyway? These topics could fill one blog all by itself and still not solve the riddles man has been trying to solve since the beginning of time.
The question we will put before ourselves now is restricted to the inevitability of death. Wait a minute! Of course it’s inevitable! But what we’re talking about here is the when, where, how, and why of it.
As you read the words of Abraham Lincoln shortly before he was assassinated, ponder those questions. Was the dream A) a tip off to prepare him for his death, B) a warning to avoid the assassination, or C) a coincidence? Here’s what Lincoln journaled:
“About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence that was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered there I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. “Who is dead in the White House?” I demanded of one of the soldiers. ”The President” was his answer; “he was killed by an assassin! Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me from my dream. “
What do you think? Here are my comments:
First, option C is out; there are too many documented cases of this to be explained away by the coincidence concept. The reality of prophetic dreams is well established.
Second, I don’t believe we can be confident of either of the other choices. What we are given in this excerpt may not be the complete story. Was this a dream within a dream? Did it play repeatedly? Were there other dreams on other nights? Were there other strange signs? What was the coloring of the dream? Did Lincoln change his upcoming schedule because of the dream?
I too have received revelations through dreams involving the deaths of several loved ones. Allow me to mention 3 cases.
1. The first involved prophesy of my dad’s death. One of the first dream in celebrated his next birthday in a hallway, and as I attempted repeatedly to move the 2-layer cake, the top layer kept slipping off because the frosting was slick. The next morning when my brother called to ask if I might consider traveling 2000 miles to attend dad’s next birthday, I knew what the dream meant and what I must do. You see, the artistry on the top of the cake was a Precious Moments image. Hence; “Precious moments are slipping away”. The hall represented a transitional period of time. My decision to visit for an extended period proved vital as dad lived only 13 days after his party.
There were many more revelatory dreams prior to and during that visit: a train whistle blowing very close by my childhood home, a game of musical chairs involving my parents and just one of our 5 children (the only one to attend the birthday), a college science course I was late for (it became clear that meant high-level biology), an exceptionally low toilet in my parent’s bathroom (fulfilled by a humbling and life-changing bath experience), prophets repeatedly telling me that “a beautiful substance would come out of the earth”, my wisdom teeth double height (letting me know I would have more than enough wisdom) . . . This all changed the circumstances surrounding dad’s death, changed my father, revolutionized my perception of death, and provided me amazing strength and comfort at a time I needed it most.
2. The next heads up concerning the death of someone was primarily represented by my daughter in a dream falling into a great dark pit. This followed a direct impression months earlier that her boyfriend’s life might be taken from him (which I ignored). Another dream between those 2 revelations told us to encourage and support the young man, that he was definitely “friend, not foe”, which we are so glad we carried out when he traveled from Virginia with our daughter to attend my father’s birthday. He was tragically killed on a motorcycle about a month after dad died. I hadn’t expected it, wondered if I could have prayed more, but ultimately knew he was in a better place.
3. The third scenario I will mention was that I knew through a dream that as my mother faced her future as an aging widow, she would be taken suddenly and unexpectedly. In a dream, I was awakened from sleep and called to reluctantly attend the family banquet she was hosting. Even though I had been warned, I was still caught by surprise just like the dream had predicted. Another dream the night before I was informed of her perilous condition revealed that I would be hurrying to make a flight headed for Charlottesville. The red-eye flight my daughter booked for me took me to Charlotte, NC. Since I understood the reality of symbolism in dreams, I took comfort knowing that somehow I was in the right place at the right time. A later dream showed her in a large sink slipping under the water for just a moment and then rising up unharmed. It brought additional comfort in respect to her eternal state.
Notice that the dreams I dreamed in these three cases all used a lot of symbolism. So take comfort that if you dream that someone has or will die, it is most likely a message in symbolism as well about the end or state of something. Notice that what Lincoln dream was quite literal, but he experienced it from a third-person viewpoint! The perspective can be significant. We discuss this all in detail in the MAXIMIZING YOUR NIGHT LIFE series.