Grief: Weird Dreams About the Dead

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As a working medium for over 25 years it comes as no surprise to me to receive letters to my columns and TV shows from people to say that they have met a dead friend or relative in a dream. In the sleep state our skeptical, conscious mind takes the back seat for a while and we are receptive to spontaneous clairvoyance and mediumship.

This is a copyrighted extract from my book  Psychic Dreaming  by Craig Hamilton-Parker ( ISBN 1-4027-0474-7 Sterling Publishers 2004 )

I have on record many instances that tell of how the spirit of a loved one has appeared in a dream to give verification of the continuation of life after death. And sometimes they give us little help to sort out our problems. For example, a lady wrote to me to explain that she was a sceptical person but soon after her mother’s death she appeared to her in a dream. The mother’s spirit looked very concerned and showed her a writing desk from the parental home that the sleeping daughter had planned to dispose of. Worried by the dream, the daughter soon visited her mother’s house to check out the desk. Slipped under one of the draws she found her mother’s will with clear instructions about how the estate should be divided.

I have a great many cases in my files of dreams in which the dead have helped the living. They have warned about illness, upcoming calamities, infidelity of a partner and suggested changes to make in order to avoid unpleasant situations. It is my belief that our dead loved ones do not suddenly gain insight into the future when they pass to the other side but their ethereal location does give them a better perspective on what is happening around us. Their overview of the situation may enable them to give us wise counsel and guidance to help us to make the best decisions about our future. And one of the best ways for them to do this is through dreams.

Dreams about the dead are usually vivid and are sometimes set in a place that is a threshold between this world and the next. My files include dreams that are set at a junction in the road, upon a bridge or in front of a gate or dark passage. In some instances the dreamer is given a glimpse of the beautiful world that lies beyond life. Reports often include a symbolic barrier of some kind such as a door, wall or garden fence.  The dreamer is aware that their loved one can go through the gate or obstacle but they cannot follow- at least not yet. Nonetheless, the dream meeting may offer them a breath taking glimpse of what awaits up on the other side of life. These visions invariably bring comfort and helps them to cope with their bereavement.

Many reports about contact with spirits in dreams happen either at the time of a death or soon after. Studies by the Society for Psychical Research have shown that a time of emotional crisis is most ripe for there to be a paranormal connection between two empathic people. There are cases in which people have seen a phantom of the living person who is experiencing a dangerous situation. Similarly at the point of death it is often reported that the spirit of the dead or dying person will connect with those they love. For example, I have cases in my files where a person has dreamed of someone they love and been awoken in the night and noticed the time. The next morning they receive news to say that the person they dreamed about had died at the exact time of the dream. (I have posted some of these cases on my website at In some instances the alarm clock has even stopped at the exact time of the death and corresponding dream.

Dreams about the Dead

Dreams about the Dead

Signs, Stories and Symbols:

Of course not all dreams about spirits are communications from the other side. It is important to remember that dreams may be expressing anxieties and grief about a death. For example, after a death of a partner a person may dream of being abandoned or being divorced by the one they love. Dreams like this express the feeling of emotional separation of the bereaved dreamer. Similarly it is likely that a bereaved person may dream of being lost or of missing a train. Again these dreams express the feeling of being out of control after the upheavals that have happened.

Most people who have suffered the loss of a loved one will dream of them within six months of the bereavement. Often the loved one will appear in the dream and then disappear. Although the rational mind knows the loved one has died, the unconscious, the emotions, must recreate the loss repeatedly. Dreams help to bring these struggling emotions into balance.

There are a number of stages to bereavement and these are often accompanied by dreams that express the emotions associated with each stage of emotional recovery and adjustment. Here are some of the signs of bereavement and a few of the accompanying dream symbols:


The shock of a death result in a feeling of disbelief about what has happened. This acts as a psychological buffer that permits the bereaved to gradually process the reality of loss. Other feelings may include confusion, restlessness, feelings of unreality, helplessness, and a state of alarm.

Dreams will reflect these emotional troubles. Dreams may include themes of helplessness such as being at the mercy of a fierce monster or confusion such as being lost in a strange place. The shock may be expressed by sudden occurrences such as lightening strikes, loud explosions or accidents. Intertwined with these nightmares may be death and fear themes such as Zombies or exhuming the body of the dead person. A person may dream of being raped or attacked expressing their feelings of victimization and rejection. Similarly the deceased loved one may appear as uncaring or hateful.  You may dream of running from shadowy figures as your emotions attempt to remove you from the painful situation.

Awareness of loss:

As awareness of loss sets in, the person may feel separation anxiety, internal conflicts, acting out emotional expectations and prolonged stress. Emotions that accompany these things may include yearning, crying and anger. There may be a feeling of isolation and betrayal. Sometimes a bereaved person will displace his or her feelings and blame someone else, God, or the hospital for what has happened. Or they may get angry with themselves creating a sense of helplessness or guilt. Sometimes the person feels guilty for being alive because they have survived and their loved one has not. Death may be seen as a punishment and this may be accompanied by feelings of shame, vulnerability and fear of death.

All sorts of strange dreams may accompany this stage of recovery. Betrayal may be expressed by a thief or cheat. Your own anger may be expressed by murder and killing themes such as hunting, war and violence. Self-punishment themes may feature in the dream to include for example hanging, torture or suicide themes. Similarly, you may dream of punishing the person who has died. Shame and vulnerability may be expressed in themes of nakedness such as dreaming of partly dressed or nude in a public place. You may dream of haunted houses, ghosts and spirits as your unconscious makes you aware of your rejected feelings of fear, uncertainty and death.

Conservation – withdrawal:

The process of bereavement can be draining and a point comes when a person becomes exhausted from all the emotional arousal it has caused them. The person may now instinctively withdraw from others to conserve energy. They will have the need to be alone yet at the same time may feel isolated and depressed. Although this time of spiritual hibernation is very difficult it is usually at this time that the person reviews what has happened and may come to accept the loss. The grief work at this stage is not easy and there may still be many preoccupations concerning the deceased to release. A person may remain at this stage for some time if they insist on retaining the status quo. Eventually they may make the decision to move forward.

Dreams during this stage may express the dreamers isolation. The landscapes of your dreams may be bleak. Themes of coldness and ice may appear as representations of the way your feelings have become frozen. You may dream of locked doors, walking through mud or cars that won’t start as expressions of your inability to move on. There may be depressing themes, perhaps set at night or in gloomy conditions, which may occasionally feature the deceased loved one. The person we grieve over may appear in the dream as being unhappy but are in fact a symbolic representation of your own feelings of sorrow.

Healing – the turning point:

Eventually a turning point comes and the bereaved person can make changes in their life. Sometimes this may include setting up new routines such as attending college or a different routine with different people. The person is now assuming control and gains a sense of competency. They may have believed that their own identity was enmeshed with that of the deceased and can start to become their own person. They may relinquish roles such as giving up role as daughter, parent, husband, etc

Dreams at this time are likely to include themes of transformation. They may include rebirth themes such as snakes shedding their skin, a phoenix or salamander in the fire. Your dreams may feature children or babies representing the new qualities emerging in your own personality. Similarly you may dream of new beginnings such as the grass during Spring time or the dawn of the Sun. Water themes as a symbol of the waters of the womb and rebirth may also feature in dreams of inner transformation. Some dreams may include what Jung called ‘Grand Dreams’ and express philosophical ideas about the purpose of life. These dreams are likely to feature many mythical themes that may describe death, resurrection and the quest of the hero. Over this period of your life you are likely to experience recurring dream themes as your unconscious weaves allegorical stories to expresses the feelings and inner changes you have been experiencing. Periods of transition in your life are likely to bring with them many vivid dreams.


A bereaved person is not able to enjoy their good memories until they face up to the loss. Although this is a painful process it is a necessary one. Sometimes people get stuck at one of the recovery stages and it can take many years before the bereavement process is concluded. Persistently recurring dreams about death or some of the themes mentioned above are an indicator that the person has not resolved their despair and may require a little counselling to help them progress.

Nothing can ever replace someone we once loved but we do learn to pick up the pieces and move on. After the bereavement a person may gain new self-awareness and recognise that there are other options in life that can also bring happiness. They may now accept personal responsibility and self-reliance. Mediumship can help with some stages of the grieving process and reassure the person that life goes on. Making a connection with the spirit through a medium or through mediumistic dreams is much easier once the main grief is resolved as intense emotions of grief can act as a barrier to communication. Nonetheless if a connection to spirit is established and verified somehow it is very reassuring for the sufferer to know that their loved one is safe and well in their new life. It may help them to let go of the pain and move towards a new way of life. Once fully healed it may be possible for their loved one to draw close to them in a dream to give message of love and hope.

References and Works Cited

This is a copyrighted extract from my book  Psychic Dreaming  by Craig Hamilton-Parker ( ISBN 1-4027-0474-7 Sterling Publishers 2004 )

This is an extract from my new book

Article Name
Weird Dreams about the Dead
Have you ever had a dream about the dead? Could it be that the dead can visit us in our dreams. Articles about how we can tell the difference between a fantasy and a real encounter with the deceased.
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Meet the Author

Craig Hamilton-Parker

CRAIG HAMILTON-PARKER is a celebrated psychic medium who has confounded skeptics by the uncanny accuracy of his readings. Craig is the author of 15 books and together with his wife have their own TV series.

11 comments… add one
  • Brenda Romano Ferro Jan 17, 2016, 4:42 pm

    Hi Craig. My boyfriend has been dead since 2009 and he won’t leave me alone. Maybe I just can’t forget him. He came through a dream last night that he was alive he was shot to death and on drugs. The dreams are very real.

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Jan 21, 2016, 2:30 pm

      The dreams may be caused by your own emotions that are trying to resolve the inner conflicts and upset caused by his death. Once you feel emotionally settled I suggest you look into getting a message from his Spirit. Your first step will probably be Spiritualism.

  • Trevor Jan 16, 2016, 8:03 pm

    Hi, last night I had the weirdest dream about my partner who passed away in May 2015, in my dream she came to me and told me that she had a one night stand with somebody called Ivan, after a Saturday night out with girls, she told me she was sorry and told me it was the one and only time it had happened, I stated to cry, and then she started falling away from me with her right hand outstretched towards me the look of pain and hurt etched on her beautiful face was to much to bare, I woke up with a huge jolt with tears running down my face, we had been together for 27 years and have 3 beautiful children, I do not think for one moment she had ever been unfaithful in all the wonderful years we were together, any ideas of what it could mean I have found it quite distressing really.

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Jan 21, 2016, 3:26 pm

      This is a very common dream that I have written about extensively in my books about dream interpretation. It is an emotional dream that expresses your feelings of loss that sometimes feels like a sort of emotional betrayal. The unconscious is primitive and irrational so makes these sort of comparisons to express your suppressed feelings.

  • Georgia Sep 10, 2015, 6:25 pm

    How can I get a reading on somebody that has passed? Who do I call or how does it work?

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Sep 23, 2015, 1:51 pm

      If you call our readers listed on this site you will need to look at the profiles to select one who is a ‘medium’ rather than a psychic or card reader.

  • Laura Griffiths Jun 9, 2015, 7:20 pm

    I had many dreams about dead people appearing. For example, one was in an old house that was being cleared had a woman on life support. She was just lying there, and then she starts to decompose right in front of me. She then appears in front of my face and calls my name for some reason. Oh, and the whole bright, white, eye thing was totally not terrifying in anyway. Absolutely not! Anyway, I found out that my granddad had died the same night, spooky!

  • Gemma Jan 24, 2015, 10:16 pm

    I lost my fiancé just over 4 years ago. In the dreams I have had about him I go to where I know he is, and I know he’s in – but his mum stops me from going in, telling me he’ll call me. All the other dreams I would be with him and he would turn his head away from me when I went to kiss him, or tell me he doesn’t want to get married any more. In a way the only thing I can think as to why this is happening is that he is sending me a message to move on, that there’s no point in waiting for him and he’s pushing me away. When I dream of him it is so vivid.

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Jan 26, 2015, 3:07 pm

      In my opinion this dream about the dead is not a spirit contact but is symbolic of your feelings. It is very common for bereaved people to dream about being rejected by the person they love. Often people dream about being divorced. This represents the way you feel. You feel like you have been rejected – it is an expression of your loneliness but not a message from the spirit world. I’m sure he still loves you.

  • nicola Aug 12, 2013, 12:49 pm

    I have had three dreams about my mum who passed away last year at only 49. It was very traumatic for us and although I believe in the spirit world I do not know if my mum really visited me in my dreams or whether my subconscious made it all up as I am anxious to know whether she is at peace. I would appreciate your thoughts on this?

    The first dream I had was about a week after she passed away, I was stood in a doorway ready to leave a house I don’t recall who’s house it was but my phone started ringing when I looked it said 555 and I said aloud to my sister who was stood behind me in the dream ‘this can’t be a real phone number’ I answered and it was my mum who simply said ‘I’m fine, don’t worry, I love you, goodbye’ and that was it, after this I woke up.

    The second was a few months down the line and my mum appeared in my back yard at night, I opened the door to let her in and I was shocked to see that she still looked unwell, she struggled inside huffing and puffing and asked to see the children, I said that she could see my youngest daughter but that it would scare my eldest if she saw her. My youngest daughter was delighted to see her and hugged her, I then started to ask my mum why she wasn’t healed and free from pain, I asked had she not made it to heaven and she got quite agitated, she said ‘for goodness sake I’ve only just got there’ so I said you have gone to heaven then? And she said that she had found a little bit of heaven, she then said that she had to leave and so subsequently left.

    Do you think that there is anything in these dreams or do you think that my mind is trying to settle itself?

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Aug 13, 2013, 10:41 am

      You would be best posting this dream on our forums where we have a section for personal dream interpretation and dreams about death.

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