If your dreams include the central image of somebody you know who has died, it’s very easy to be taken aback. In fact, most normal people might even be shaken awake by the image of somebody they know who has passed away.
But there they are in their dream — full of life, possibility, and even excitement. At the back of their minds, they know that the person that they’re looking at is dead.
So, how do you make sense of dreaming of a dead person smiling?
The Meaning and Symbolism of a Dead Person Smiling
It’s very hard to untangle the two symbols entwined within the image of a dead person smiling.
First, you have to deal with the fact that the person that you say in your dreams, who seems so alive, immediate, and full of emotions, is already dead.
This is the first layer of interpretation.
You’re Dealing with a Memory
Now, that might seem fairly harmless, but it isn’t because everybody you have interacted with in this world has left some sort of impact on you.
Now, I understand that most of the time, the impact is not all that heavy or at least not so significant that you choose to remember it.
But make no mistake. As you go through this world in your life’s journey, you pick a lot of influence from people around you.
Believe it or not, even when somebody comments on your blog or sends you a seemingly random email, it somehow gets your attention on social media.
They have already changed you. Now, granted that this change is usually not as profound as somebody that you’ve interacted with on a face-to-face basis over an extended period of time, but the change is there.
Maybe it’s part of the accumulated amount of changes that you’ve been picking up over the years. Or, it can just take it to a whole new direction.
This is how people get inspired. A lot of the “flashes of brilliance” that people come up with when trying to overcome a challenge or solve some kind of problem usually come from somebody else.
Believe it or not, you’re not as smart or original of a thinker as you imagine yourself to be. And that’s perfectly okay because your ability to sense and pick up these different signals from the rest of the Universe is a core part of what makes you human.
There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Just because this happens to you and you’re aware of it doesn’t mean that you’re no less original than the next person.
When you see dead people, you’re dealing with the impact of past ideas, emotional states, or mindsets. Generally speaking, you’re dealing with something from the past.
The Good News About Dream Images of a Dead Person
Now, before we get too deep into the interpretation of what it means to see a dead person smiling in your dreams, I just want to highlight one very important point.
It is rarely the case that your night visions of a dead person smiling or interacting with the dead person actually have something to do with somebody who died. There’s nothing freaky, weird, or occult about this image unless there are other symbols in your dream.
For example, you’re dreaming of dragons, and all of a sudden, this giant image of a pentagram or the Devil arises. You’re surrounded by people who you know are dead. Probably, that kind of dream would lead to some other interpretation.
But generally speaking, when you see dead people in your dreams, you’re not dealing with those people themselves.
Instead, your subconscious is trying to send you a message regarding past ideas and most importantly past mental states.
The Past May Not Be the Past When It Comes to Dead Loved Ones
Of course, one of the most emotionally jarring images that you could see in a dream is when somebody you cared for or somebody who cared for you who is long dead comes back to life.
In fact, these dead person interaction dreams usually present a situation where it seems that nothing has happened. It seems like a memory.
You just wake up and there is that person.
Maybe they’re making an omelet, fixing you a sandwich, or talking to you as you do some cleaning in the house — totally commonplace, everyday banal imagery.
And right smack in the middle of it is the assumption that this person is still alive. But you know full well that they’re dead.
The good news is this is not a prediction nor is this dream about some sort of agonizing and emotional dissection of your relationship with that person.
Instead, when you see the images of a dead person and just going about life in your dream, your subconscious is telling you about past mental states you have.
But here’s where it gets kind of tricky.
Human Growth, When It Comes to Attitude, Outlook, and Mindset, Is Usually Not Clear-Cut
When you open a history book, historians have this way of cutting up timelines into neat, little periods. Generally speaking, historians know when the Renaissance splits off from the High Middle Ages and when the Enlightenment took place.
Well, when it comes to our personal, spiritual, psychological, and emotional evolution and personal histories, there are no timelines. Most people would take two steps forward, and then one step backward.
That’s how it works.
People morph from one mindset to another in fits and starts. And oftentimes, they jump backward depending on the circumstances that they face.
Sometimes, you feel that you’re making good progress as you mature emotionally, and then you hit a wall. Maybe your girlfriend or boyfriend leaves you. Maybe you got employed and your boss is just a big jerk.
Something happens, and all this progress that you think you were making goes down the toilet and you get knocked back on your heels so you repeat the process again.
But this time around, it’s a smoother transition because you’ve been there before.
I hope you get my point. So, when you look at the dream imagery of a dead loved one or a dead person from the past, you’re dealing with changes in your mindset.
Your subconscious is trying to grab your attention regarding these changes because there may be an unresolved business. You may be looking for closure.
Hugging a Dead Person Means Coming to Terms with a Past Awareness
One of the hardest things about charting one’s personal path to maturity is that things are often gradual. And when you’re growing up as a person on a psychological, emotional, and spiritual level, things don’t always proceed at the same pace.
Intellectually, you can understand or even map out how you’ve grown. There are certain things that you may have closed your mind to before and now you’re open to them.
In fact, you’d view them as part of your day-to-day waking reality. This makes you feel good because you are under the impression that you’ve gone so far, and you’ve really turned over a new leaf.
This is all great and everything, but feelings are not reality. Personal stories that you tell yourself as to how far you’ve gone can and do make you feel good, but unless you act them out, they only change your personal reality.
I hope you can see the different levels here between realizing that there are changes that you need to make and the impression you have about changes in your consciousness and how you used to talk and your actual life on a day-to-day basis.
These can proceed on different tracks and can be equally true. You just have to have a big picture view.
And when your subconscious uses the image of you hugging a dead person, you’re allowed to reconnect with your old mindset and how you used to look at the world and how you used to handle things on an emotional level.
Visitation Dreams Are Very Personal
One of the most common terms used to describe the experience of dreaming of a dead relative or a dead loved one is a visitation dream. The idea is these loved ones who were long passed are visiting you. They’re going from one dimension to the next.
But as I have mentioned already, this is not what your subconscious is actually trying to communicate. Instead, it’s trying to shine a spotlight on how your mindset has changed compared to the past.
By letting you step into your old mindset as represented by one dead person or several dead people “magically brought back to life,” you have given yourself a chance to reconnect with how you used to think.
This is not a waste of time. In fact, this is a very important stage in deepening your level of self-awareness and psychic maturity.
How can you tell you’ve gone so far when you have nothing to compare it to?
Usually, you just have a feeling. You just say to yourself: “Well, I get the impression that I have changed.”
But have you?
So, you have to look at not only what you’re feeling but also what you do. It’s one thing to say you become kinder and have learned to forgive others, but those words ring hollow if you don’t practice them on a day-to-day basis.
When you experience a visitation dream, you’re given this opportunity.
A Dead Person Smiling Means You Are in a Safe Psychic Space
As I mentioned earlier, there are many different ways your subconscious can frame dead people.
This navigation of your soul can be quite traumatic indeed. After all, you know that these are dead people. They’re not coming back. All you have are memories of them.
In many cases, false memories may come to rise because you’re just going by what other people said about them. It’s as if your mind is trying to fill in the blanks regarding these dead people who are in your life.
But in reality, your subconscious is trying to get you to become aware of how past experiences “seeded” by the various number of people from your past help you change your mind and help you grow.
And this lesson doesn’t take place because you have nothing else to do.
Usually, your subconscious is showing you this imagery because you have unresolved emotions about past decisions you’ve made or past situations that may have played out in your life. After all, you were acting out in fear.
Maybe you were afraid to let go. Maybe it was just easier for you to react a certain way.
Letting Go of the Past Is the First Step to Making Sense of It
When you see a dead person in dream images or in dream settings, you would easily be forgiven for trying to frame them or “free them” in a certain context. You imagine them a certain way because of their impact on you.
But oftentimes these are shadows. Yes, even people who may have done something bad to you actually have different sides.
That’s what makes them shadows because you can only see the side that impacted you. You don’t really see the total person.
So, when your mind shows you dead people whom you had a strong emotional bond with or played an important role in your life, you’re dealing with an opportunity to overcome your perception of them.
Don’t get me wrong. What happened between you and them their impact on you obviously played a big role in how you turned out. That cannot be denied.
But there are also other sides to them.
And when you see them in your dreams, you have to go past your emotions and feelings. You have to overcome your fear of forgetting.
A lot of people are afraid to forget because they feel that the past has taught them certain lessons, but they fail to realize that they’re hanging on to the wrong lesson.
Maybe they’re blowing things out of proportion. Or, worse yet, they’re reading their insecurities, fears, and frustrations today to things that happened in the past and people who had an impact on them from the past.
Give Yourself Permission to Truly Know
As you probably already know, there are many sides to you. There’s the side that people could see. This is usually where your reputation comes from.
They might not know your intention, but they sure know the impact of your actions. After all, actions speak louder than words. You can say that you meant the best, but at the end of the day, you will be judged by the consequences of your actions.
But your reality is much deeper than that because you may be able to do the right things in front of the right people at the right times to foster a reputation. You may repeat this enough and people can see that your reputation fits you, but they don’t really know you.
They don’t see you behind closed doors. They don’t see the dark corners of your heart.
When you see dead people in your dream and they’re smiling and it feels rather positive or pleasant, you’re given a tremendous opportunity to reconnect with your past mindsets and possibly become aware of the pattern of gradual changes leading to where you are now.
Because a lot of the time, the answer to our present challenges can be found in our past, and the deepest reality about you involves your mindset.
I’m talking about your attitude, your assumptions as well as your expectations. These can easily lead to self-fulfilling prophecies.
That’s how vital they are to your personal evolution as a human being because a lot of feelings of emptiness, frustration, negative emotions, or a need for closure as well as a pang of overarching and crippling guilt can be found in the disconnects and unresolved junctures of your present mindset and those that came before it.
Another key theme that you need to resolve when trying to understand a dream of a dead person smiling involves attachment. When you see dead people in your dreams who have been kind to you, encouraged you, forgiven you, and nurtured you along your path, it’s easy to feel a longing for them.
And as positive as these emotions may be, they can also be crippling.
Your Life Is in the Here and Now, Not in the Past
When you see them smiling, there’s a sense of yearning to go back to that state when things seem to be so much simpler. Things were easier to explain.
They’re not caught up in the day-to-day reality that can be confusing and even overwhelming. So, in this sense, you’re looking for closure, but you’re not really.
There’s no way you can achieve that because you’re trying to simplify or reduce the conflict that you may be feeling today with the simplicity or easy explanations that you think can be found from the past.
So, in this respect, seeing those dead friends, relatives hanging out with you, sharing laughs with you, and basically just giving the best of themselves is a way for you to escape.
These images point to the certainty that you feel you can only get from the past, but here’s the challenge.
While you’re supposed to learn from the past, you’re living in the here and now. You are trapped in the eternal present.
While the past does have an impact on how you choose to live now, it’s too easy to become a prisoner of the past. I’m not talking about how things actually played out, but how you imagine things to have been in the past.
Human beings have this knack for imagining reality for what it should be instead of how it truly is.
Don’t Let the Smile Fool You
One key interpretation of dreams involving dead people or a dead person smiling indicates self-delusion. Life is complicated just ask the people in our lives are complicated.
We have to allow them that because if we want to be truly understood for who we truly are, we need to give people permission to be complicated in our lives.
There’s More to People Than Being Good or Evil
There is no such thing as a knight in shining armor or somebody who is always wearing a white hat.
Saints and demons are freely intermingled in our day-to-day reality. You yourself may be an amalgam of your highest ideals and your ability to live up to them, and your worst fears and basest instincts which make you feel guilty.
If you’re like most people, you say things that you shouldn’t say and intend things that you would feel sorry about later on but you do them anyway.
And there’s this big danger when you see a dead person smiling in our dreams who had such a profound connection with us to turn these deceased people into emotional cartoons.
We only look at their bright side and hang on to that. We refuse to look at them as complete people. In other words, the temptation to reduce the powerful reality of these individuals from our past and the lessons that they have taught us as well the seeds that they’ve planted in our lives into cartoons.
See People as They Are, Not as Cartoons
It’s almost irresistible, but you have to resist because if you want to get to the real meaning of their impact on you, you have to view them as real people, warts and all.
This is how you can make sense of the present, and it’s very tempting and easy to just reduce the past into a cartoon: something that you can control, something that you can slice and dice and make sense comfortably and conveniently.
But that doesn’t help you. When you do that, you’re just reinforcing things you want to see. You’re just reinforcing the lessons you are comfortable with.
You then become blind to everything else. If you want to navigate the pitfalls as well as the promises of today, you have to establish a healthy relationship with your psychic, emotional, and psychological past.
In essence, this type of dream is a call for a higher level of personal maturity.
Dream Example #1
Life is not the same for everyone. It is Neither a bed full of roses nor a bed full of thorns. Life is all about conquest over hardships with continuous struggles.
The state of it lies within one’s nerves it can either be a fairytale or witchcraft depends on which angle you are observing. I lost my father when I was 6-year-old, an age when the mind proceeds magical fairytale illusions as reality.
Life wasn’t exceptionally luxurious before, but gratification existed. The death of my father somehow turned my life upside down. It’s been 14 years now, but the wound is still bleeding.
Yesterday I saw him again, In a dream. A dream that left a mark on my soul forever. I was with my siblings, in my aunt’s house. It seemed like a family gathering. Everyone was quite happy, smiling and chatting in the room. I was at the right corner, enjoying the gathering.
Suddenly, I saw someone sitting on the bed. When I noticed, his face wasn’t so clear but there was a cap on his head. A cap, my father used to wear. I was stunned because no one in my family ever wears that cap after him. Steadily, his face appeared and to my surprise, he was my father.
Emotions hit me hard from all sides; Grieve, joy, and amazement had me at that moment.
With the heavy foot, I stood up. His scent was all over in the atmosphere. It was getting dense and real with each step toward the bed, where he was sitting. He smiled at something my aunt told him. A smile filled with life; a vital one.
A strong feeling of possessiveness surrounds me when I saw him holding my younger brother in his hands. In that instance, I wished to hug him, to feel his warm blood running through my veins. I wished to have his scent around me forever. Tears in my eyes clouded the vision.
“Papa” I called him with a wailed sound and succeeded in attaining his attention.
Love was all I can see in his eyes; Pure and holy. He offered his hand to hold but the inner me was scared of the illusion to fade away. Holding his hand was a bold step I did. A warm stimulus boost in my body, it didn’t disappear. It was all I desired; to feel his presence.
I lost the control I had over me, tears broke through the eyes on his touch. Crying to let my pain out. He hugged me, place my head on his shoulder. His heartbeat was the most soothing rhythm I felt. There was a conversation; a profound talk, even no one from us uttered a single word.
I closed my eyes and slowly the comfort prevails. All my pains worries disappeared.
But a sound invaded the bubble, a sharp sound hit my brain. I opened my eyes, but the scenario was different. My head was on the damp pillow and the sound was ringing alarm.
It was not just a dream, I know, I felt him last night.
Dream interpretation and symbology have fascinated me ever since I read Freud’s classic, “The Interpretation of Dreams.” Ever since, I have explored Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist as well as Jungian psychological ideas about the meaning of dreams. Thanks for joining me in my exploration of the amazing intersection between our conscious waking world and the rich expanse of our subconscious-the home of our intuition, instincts, and hidden potential.