What Does It Mean to Dream of Dead Relatives?

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. August 5, 2021
What Does It Mean to Dream of Dead Relatives?

The world of our subconscious is very complex and we are not often allowed many avenues to understand it. This is problematic. If we don't understand our subconscious thoughts, there is a risk they will appear in negative ways during consciousness. This is why paying our attention to our dreams is so important. It allows us a glimpse into our subconscious and the opportunity to understand it a little better. However, sometimes remembering our dream can make us more confused than before. This can happen when we dream of dead relatives. We may wonder not only why they have appeared, but why they have appeared now.

At oneHOWTO, we help you understand this dream interpretation by asking what does it mean to dream of dead relatives? It is important to remember that the answer will depend on each individual context.

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  1. A moment of change
  2. Unfinished business
  3. A reflection of yourself
  4. Remembrance

A moment of change

There are many reasons why deceased loved ones may come into our subconscious minds. To understand what dreaming of a dead relative means, we need to look at the context both within and without the dream. This means looking at what happens during the dream and what is currently happening in our lives. There are an endless number of variables for both elements of context, but there are some general themes dead relatives can raise.

Another factor is the length of time the relative has been deceased. If your relative has died recently, it is understandable they will be in both our waking and unconscious thoughts. If they have been dead for a long time, it is possible something in our current life has reminded us or we simply miss them. Also, how close your relative was to you will be a factor. Losing a parent might be more traumatic than losing a cousin, but this will depend on the circumstances of their death.

When we dream of a loved one who is deceased, it might be a sign of change. Many people interpret death as the ultimate change. It is the change from one state of being to the next. If we are worried about change, expecting change or even subconsciously desire change, the appearance of a dead relative in a dream could be related to these feelings.

We should examine our lives and try to see if something either has changed or should change. Since change is often something we fear, dead relatives can appear to us because they bring comfort. We also use relatives for reference, so we may subconsciously seek their reassurance. Also, relatives can be used as examples. If a relative in our dream is someone who has made mistakes, they may serve as a warning for us not to make the same ones.

Think about the change which has been made or needs to be made and then examine its relation to the relative. For example, if we are thinking of having children, it would make sense we dream of a parent since we are carrying on their genes.

Take a look at our article on what it means to dream of someone for a more general dream interpretation.

What Does It Mean to Dream of Dead Relatives? - A moment of change

Unfinished business

Another common reason why we dream of dead relatives can be encapsulated by the idea of unfinished business. This is when we have some issue which is related to the deceased which has not been resolved. It is rare than we get to say goodbye in the right way to loved ones. For example, if they die in an accident or are struck down suddenly, we likely won't have anticipated their death. Such a truncation of a life can leave us with many unresolved feelings.

The feelings we have about a deceased loved one can be very conflicting. For example, we may have lost someone who was close family, but we had a difficult relationship together. Often these are problems which are resolved by time, but a death prevents us having the opportunity to reconcile. This can gives us feelings of guilt about the situation, regardless if the problem was our fault. For this reason, the relative can appear in our dreams.

When a close relative dies, we often think there was something we could have done about it. Again, we need to look at the context of their death. For example, if a loved one dies of addiction, it is common for their relatives to believe their was something they could have done to intervene. This thought often plagues relatives of the deceased and can result in these feelings of guilt or shame.

If we have these unresolved issues, it is vital we talk about them. Whether with a trusted friend, family member or even a mental health professional, we need to out the past behind us. This doesn't mean forgetting about it, but we need to reconcile our current feelings so we can live our lives freely.

A reflection of yourself

A lot of experts also have another explanation for the presence of deceased relatives in dreams. They can be a reflection of oneself, both in terms of our personality and behaviors. Many of these reflect both positive and negative characteristics.

It is very common to see yourself reflected in very close relatives, such as a mother, father, brother or sister. However, we can be very close to relatives outside of our nuclear family. Our grandparents can be like surrogate parents or cousins can be our best friends. If we are going through something similar to what happened to them, it is understandable they might appear in our dreams.

There are also some relatives which may have played a large part in our life due to formative experiences. For example, we might have had an uncle who didn't treat us right when we were young. They can appear in our dreams as an adult if we feel like we are not being treated right again.

We should look to see not only if we are reflected in this deceased relative, but we should see if there are other people in our lives who might resemble a certain relative. For example, a very good boss can be like a parent to us, so we may dream of a dead father or dead mother for this reason.

What Does It Mean to Dream of Dead Relatives? - A reflection of yourself


Finally, we often dream of dead relatives simply because we are remembering them. These are people who have had great impact on our lives, whether they were positive or negative. They often appear in our dreams because it can be difficult to think about them when awake. Our subconscious often has a way of making us think of things which we may find difficult in life.

If you want to find out more about dream interpretations, take a look at the following articles:

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What Does It Mean to Dream of Dead Relatives?