What does it mean when you dream about someone who is already dead?

Two weeks ago I dreamed about my brother Aaron.

We were at a bonfire party and he was playing guitar while some girls sang along. The feeling was honestly so good, and I woke up with a tear in my eye.

The reason is that Aaron has been dead for two years.

But I swear to God it felt like I was right there with him.

He then said something to me that I’ve been thinking about ever since and can’t get off my mind.

So what does this all mean? Why do we sometimes dream about someone who’s passed on but it feels like they’re alive and real right in front of us?

What does it mean when you dream about someone who is already dead?

Aaron died suddenly from a medical condition that he’d struggled with but that none of us knew was that serious.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Dreaming of him recently brought it all back, but most of all it reminded me of the fond memories, and made me wonder what it might mean…

1) You’re processing the pain

First up, losing a loved one is a pain like no other. I can’t describe it and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

It’s surreal in that it feels like it can’t be real that somebody so alive and important is now no longer around.

For months after Aaron’s death I was absolutely certain I’d wake up one day and find out it had all been some kind of bizarre and awful misunderstanding.

He wasn’t really dead, right?

Sometimes finding out what does it mean when you dream about someone who is already dead is about going with the simplest solution first.

You’re very sad and devastated, and your sleeping mind is processing that immense pain and shock through dreams.

Miller’s Guild wrote about this saying “The most common reason you might dream of someone who is already deceased is that your brain is trying to process your feelings about this person that have come to your conscious awareness.”

2) They’re giving you a crucial message

What does it mean when you dream about someone who is already dead?

Sometimes it means they are there to tell you something crucial that you need to know. For example, they may be letting you know that they are still with you and watching over you.

Or they may be letting you know that it’s important that you care for your mom or siblings in the wake of their death.

Often those who have passed on have a message of love and healing for us.

They see our lives in a new light of compassion and purely loving intention, and they want us to clear away the shit that is blocking us from expressing love and building bridges.

They try to give us a message to connect more and care for those around us while we’re still alive.

These can be very powerful dreams to have, and connect somewhat to the dream I had of Aaron.

3) They’re letting you know they’re OK

Let’s not forget how scary the unknown is. Many people claim not to fear death but I don’t bother with that claim: I fear it enormously.


Because it’s unknown.

Whether the lights go out or there’s some kind of timeless bliss, both possibilities or any other variant honestly terrify me.

Because we just don’t know. And no matter how religious you are or how spiritual, it’s very hard to get a firm grasp on what’s in store for any of us in the next world…including maybe nothing at all.

That’s why one of the things it can mean when you dream about someone who is already dead is that they’re letting you know they’re OK.

That was my first thought about the dream of Aaron, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was also warning me in some way.

4) You’re being warned away from a certain choice

I want to tell you what Aaron said to me in this dream.

He was playing guitar at some kind of high-school-style party but I couldn’t really place an age on him if you asked me.

He seemed kind of “Aaron-ish” without any real age. Just…Aaron.

He was smiling and playing a song by Oasis, actually, “Wonderwall.” Typical, I know.

Aaron actually did play guitar but not very well. As far as I know he didn’t even really like Oasis, but maybe he picked up a taste for them on the other side.

All I know is that as he finished out a song he beckoned me aside and told me something that seemed to be in confidence or just between the two of us.

“You don’t have to do it.”

“What?” I was asking him, but he just smiled and nodded. The dream ended as the girls and assorted pals cheered for his performance.


But a message from my dead brother, no matter how random, seemed like something I should take seriously.

So I did.

5) A challenging time is coming

The fact of the matter is that I now understand what he meant.

It was nothing so dramatic or earth-shattering, it was simply about staying closer to the family during a difficult time.

My decision to prioritize my career came at the same time as we’ve had some problems going on in our family.

In fact, my sister recently went through a divorce and has been struggling with substance abuse, compounded by the awful tragedy of Aaron’s passing.

She was even closer to him than me and he was, in many ways, her role model.

Him being gone left her in such a dark place that many of us are still worried if she will ever get out no matter how many special clinics and rehabs she attends.

I never thought it would happen that my sweet little sister would be a statistic, but her addiction has become extremely serious for our whole family.

I saw that Aaron was giving me a clear message:

Stay with your sister.

I realized that what he was saying is true. This is the time to stick together as a family. This is the time to be with my beloved baby sister. This is not the time to go chasing my dreams.

Not yet.

6) You’re receiving encouragement and hope

It’s important to realize that those who have passed on still care about us.

As I said, my beliefs in the afterlife or the spiritual world are still unsure.

I’m not sure what form Aaron still exists in or exactly what it’s like for him.

As far as I know, I’ve never been dead and I can only sort of picture or speculate about what it could be like.

Maybe he exists in some kind of eternal present or it’s more like a dream for him.

To what extent does he still have freedom of choice, will, consciousness, and so forth?

I simply don’t know.

But I firmly believe that he still exists in some sense or at the very least as a reflection of my own memories and interior reality.

He’s there for me and letting me know he still cares, and I still care, too.

I’ll always love my brother in a way that surpasses anything I can write in words, and our past disagreements seem like absolutely trivial nothing burgers compared to the depth of love we had and have.

I don’t know exactly how, but I feel this dream I had about him that was so visceral and real was his way of encouraging me in life.

There have been some hard times lately and I haven’t been sure what to do in the wake of his passing.

I felt like this is him letting me know that not only is he OK, but I’m going to be OK, too.

7) They signify a coming breakup or loss in your life

Sometimes a dream about someone who has passed on is a dream that represents a coming breakup or loss which is set to occur in your life.

Sometimes it is a loss that is already occurring or partly taking place.

For example, if you’re about to go through a difficult separation or divorce, or already are in the stages of going through one, seeing a dead individual in your dreams may represent this loss.

This is especially likely to be true if the individual you see is someone who you associate with heartbreak or sadness.

For example, some people may see a past lover or partner in a dream or may see an individual who had a heartbroken love life.

This is, in a sense, a reflection of your own heartbreak and what you are going through.

8) They’re asking you for help

Depending on the nature of your dream, sometimes it is indeed a cry for help.

Not everyone passes on at just the right time or with their life in a secure or whole place.

Many die suddenly or in the midst of tragedy, confusion, or heartbreak.

Sometimes you may dream of somebody who is already dead because they are traveling through the spiritual world to ask you for help.

What help are you, a living person, supposed to give to the soul of somebody who’s already dead?

Well, it depends.

If it is a family member or somebody you were closely tied to in life, then your role is often to forgive them, redeem something they did or provide healing energy or actions in some way that’s associated with their time in life.

This can vary enormously depending on who they were and what they did in life.

For example, if you dream of an ex who’s dead who you cheated on, your job may to be truly face what you did and repent of it and apologize, especially if you never really did to them.

If you dream of an old friend who ended up killing themselves, you may be being asked to help think of them and redeem their hopelessness.

Imagine them smiling when you see a beautiful sunset or eat a delicious plate of food, passing on that positive, life-giving energy to their soul and lessening the load a little bit for them in whichever reality they’re now in.

9) You have unfinished business

Sometimes we dream about someone who is already dead because we have unfinished business with them.

I’m not talking about an unfulfilled contract or business relationship, I mean unfinished business of the personal or emotional kind.

Perhaps you wronged them in some way or they wronged you in some way.

This dream and their appearance in it is sort of a chance for “overtime” and to try your best to do some healing work even though this person is no longer physically here.

You are being invited and given the opportunity to make up for what happened in the past or to receive some energetic recompense for it from this other person beyond the grave.

This kind of grace is rare and deeply treasured.

10) You’re seeing your own future death

This one is a little scary for sure, but sometimes you do dream about someone who’s passed on as a kind of preview of your own future death.

For those who believe in an afterlife or Heaven, this is even more how things may shake out, in that you are sort of seeing what things will be like if and when you get to the other side.

Your relatives are there and they’re welcoming and ready to greet you.

Others have reported similar experiences using substances such as ayahuasca, of seeing their relatives or a pre-birth or post-death reality that opens their eyes and connects them to the grandness of life and death.

Naturally, this can be quite terrifying, but it can also be illuminating in a way that daily, pedestrian life sometimes is not.

In the same sense, a very intense dream about someone who is already dead can be a kind of spiritual guiding light that reveals to you a little about your own eventual passing and somehow also makes it less scary.

Because you won’t be alone and they are letting you know that it will ultimately be OK.

So long, bro

I miss my brother badly. It hits me sometimes just how much he meant to me.

One day I hope to see him again.

Is that idle fantasy, my religious faith, or a reality that will one day occur?

I don’t know for sure.

What I do know is that the dream I had of him meant so much to me.

I miss my brother so badly, yet still somehow he’s here with me. That I know.

Though my brother has left this world, his spirit and memory remain alive in me forever. That’s a gift no one can take away from me.

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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