Dreams about death are symbolic and not uncommon after having suffered a significant loss or illness. Things that may be happening around you might trigger you into having these types of dreams without you even realizing it. For example, one of those is having a loved one who is sick or dying. Your subconscious might be tricking you into believing that your death is also near.
When you suffer dreams of death it may be because of other things going on in your life. For example, talking about death or dying recently with a loved one might have given rise to your thanatophobia - or the fear of death and dying. Many people may suffer from death anxiety without knowing that this is contributing to their dreams about death. Below you'll find different ways to deal with these types of dreams, and learn about how being around those who are dying may also be affecting you.
1. Confront Your Fears
One of the most common reasons people are affected by dreams about death is because they’re afraid of their own mortality. Talking about death and dying in American culture is seen as taboo and is rarely discussed even when confronted with it.
There are many reasons why people are afraid of death. Those fears can be rooted in their upbringing, their personal thoughts, and spiritual beliefs regarding death.
Some things affecting your fear of death include:
Religious beliefs. The way religion or spirituality teaches you about death and the afterlife has a significant effect on how you view death. It can either be seen as a part of the life cycle where everything that is born must die. Or, as energy as a life force that has no beginning and no ending.
Self-esteem. Self-esteem is how you view and value yourself. A person with low self-esteem is more easily intimidated by situations where death is a possibility. Those with high self-esteem tend to fear death less because they’re more confident and can better manage situations where death is likely to occur.
Life fulfillment. When you find fulfillment in your life and you consider it a life well-lived, you fear death less because of the satisfaction that comes from those life experiences. You’re overall satisfied with your life and don’t feel that it’s lacking or that you still need to accomplish certain things before you die.
Health. When your health starts to fail, you can begin to look at death differently. It may be that you start to view death as a way to end your suffering and you’re no longer afraid of it. Some people welcome death as an alternative to living life in a vegetative state or otherwise confined to a hospital bed.
Relationships. The relationships you maintain with your loved ones will also determine your level of fear when it comes to dying. Those who have strong relationships and close bonds with their loved ones will typically not be fearful of death. They’ve found fulfillment in this aspect of their lives and are more open to discussing their fears and feelings. People with broken relationships tend to fear dying without having made amends or finding forgiveness with others whom they’ve wronged or who have wronged them.
Will to live. A strong will to live may sometimes take a bad situation and breathe new life into it. Whether someone’s will and determination extends their life by a few days or a few hours, they have a reason to live and any amount of time added to their life is satisfying to them. Those who are at death’s door might find the strength to live long enough for their loved ones to gather at their bedside before succumbing to death.
2. Learn About Death
One of the surest ways to calm your fears about death is to learn about it. Reading books about death and dying or researching online can help you understand the process better and may calm your fears. Sometimes the fear of the unknown is what causes you to have these types of dreams. The more you read and learn about death, the easier it may be for you to accept it.
When learning about death, consider researching statistics related to death rates among those who are similar to you in age, background, and lifestyle. Many things can contribute to an early death just as many things contribute to living a long and healthy life. Try incorporating some of the new things you learn into your lifestyle so that your chances of living a longer and healthier life increase as you strive toward living a better life.
3. Tame Your Anxiety
Death anxiety can creep up at any time and at any age. This is true whether you’re young and healthy, in mid-life and relatively healthy, or in advanced age and possibly facing death. One way to rid yourself of anxiety associated with the fear of dying is to plan ahead to your death.
One aspect of planning ahead is having all of your end-of-life planning documents in place. The basic plan may include some or all of the documents below. This is only a brief overview of what these documents are used for. You should consult an attorney for advice specific to your individual needs.
- A Living Will or an Advanced Healthcare Directive. This document gives directions on the type of medical care you wish to receive depending on different circumstances. It gives guidance not only to the medical professionals treating you, but to your family as well. This is not to be confused with a last will and testament.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney. With this document, you’re legally allowing another person to step in and make healthcare decisions for you in the event that you’re unable to make them for yourself. One reason you may not be able to make your own decisions is because you’ve become mentally incapacitated due to injury, coma, surgery, or advanced illness.
- Durable Power of Attorney. This designation differs from the one above in that it’s not limited to your agent making only healthcare decisions for you. With a durable power of attorney, your agent is able to make many other legally binding decisions on your behalf concerning your estate, real estate, financial investments, banking, and so on.
- Organ Donor Designation. When faced with the end of life, many are not in a position to express their wishes concerning organ donation. Having this designation in place well in advance may mean the difference between your organs being preserved for donation, or losing viability due to a lapse in time while a decision is being made.
- Last Will and Testament. This document is traditionally used to name beneficiaries or heirs to your estate. It can be as detailed as you’d like it to be depending on the size of your estate and the number of heirs you have.
4. Take Care of Your Health
When you can’t stop dreaming about death, one of the things that might be causing you great anxiety is the state of your health. It may be that you’re aware of an underlying health condition that you’ve put off dealing with, or you may know that you’re leading a less than healthy lifestyle. In either case, the condition of your health might be what’s causing you to consider your mortality through the manifestations of death dreams.
Take stock of your health and make a checklist of things needing to be checked out or medically examined. If you’re living an unhealthy lifestyle, consider making small changes that gradually lead you to live a healthier one. Small changes in your habits can lead to an overall healthier you. When you’re confident that you’re taking care of your health, your fear of death will lessen.
5. Explore Past Traumas
Past traumatic events may be having a residual effect on your psychological well-being. These events from your past might be manifesting in your present as death dreams and thanatophobia. If someone you know suffered a traumatic death, it may be that you’re subconsciously fearing that you’ll be faced with the same type of death.
Revisit these specific things that have occurred in your life as you remember them. Make a list and journal your feelings toward each of those occurrences. Ask yourself how it made you feel when it happened, and how has it affected your life since. Over time, you’ll be able to pinpoint certain triggering events so you can work through them.
6. Get Grounded
Getting grounded in your spirituality has a great effect on your fear of death and dying. You can choose whether to incorporate religion in the process or not. Spirituality can be as simple as learning to meditate on your fears or taking time out for prayerful contemplation.
The more you practice grounding your fears, the easier it will become for you to acknowledge, accept, and release them without it affecting your everyday life.
7. Seek Grief Counseling
Grief counseling seeks to address the issues that cause you to feel pain and sorrow over your losses. There are grief counselors available online and in your community to help you through some of the more difficult challenges in your life.
They are trained in dealing with different types of grief and situations leading to pain and loss.
Dreams and Death Anxiety
You can put an end to dreaming about death by confronting your fears over death and dying. If you’re anxious about death, take the time to learn about it so that you become comfortable with what to expect.