Sarah Regan

mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

By Sarah Regan

mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor’s in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.

Sleeping Young Woman In Bed With White Linen

Image by Dreamwood Photography / Stocksy

May 13, 2023

Dreaming of someone being alive after they’ve died can stir up a range of emotions—and they’re not uncommon dreams to have. From feeling comforted by the sight of them, to reliving the grief all over again once you wake up, what do these dreams mean?

Like all dream scenarios, the meaning can vary quite a bit depending on context. Here, experts explain what these dreams could mean, what to do about them, and how to know if it was a visitation dream.


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What does it mean to see a dead person alive in a dream?

According to therapist and dream expert Leslie Ellis, Ph.D., dreams following the death of a loved one, be it a pet or a person, are quite common. “They are not always comforting, but they do seem to move the grief process forward,” she says.

And typically, grief is exactly what these dreams are all about. In fact, one study by dream researcher Joshua Black, Ph.D. on dreaming about deceased loved ones showed these dreams can actually help us process the trauma of a loss, serving as a way to maintain connection with the deceased, and/or help regulate emotions.

These are essential components of grieving, Ellis explains, adding, “One of the most interesting things is, when we lose a loved one or pet, the vast majority of the dreams we have about them are comforting.”

Of course, the aren’t always comforting, so here are some more interpretations depending on the specifics of your dream.

As professional dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg previously told mindbodygreen, her clients often feel comforted when a deceased loved one appears in a dream, and these dreams help with the grieving process. This echoes Ellis’ and Black’s idea that dreaming of someone who’s passed is a natural part of the grieving process.

“When it’s in the first couple of years after their death, and if it’s someone you’re very close to, it can still be connected to the grief. And it’s really common,” Loewenberg says.


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If they’re mad at you in the dream

Now, if the person in the dream is angry with you—don’t worry. It’s likely not a negative visitation dream about some grudge before they died. According to Loewenberg, rather, dreaming that someone who died is angry, upset, or disappointed in you are most likely projections of your own feelings.

“If they’re mad at you, for example, it’s not their spirit coming through. This is you being mad at yourself for some reason,” she says, adding that these types of dreams are common if you feel you had unfinished business with this person or things left unsaid, and/or they died suddenly.


If they try to hurt you

In some cases, you might dream that a person who died is alive again and attacking you. In this instance, Loewenberg notes, this likely represents a self-sabotaging part of yourself that’s exhibiting similar patterns or behaviors as this person did when they were alive.

She suggests asking yourself if you’re doing anything you know is self-sabotaging, or if there’s something this person struggled with that you’re doing now, whether it’s frivolous spending, a substance abuse problem, or avoiding a difficult conversation.


If the dream is pleasant

According to both Ellis and Loewenberg, many of the dreams we have about people who have died are pleasant, and can assist in the grieving process as we work through our emotions around the person’s death.

These dreams can be related to the grief you’re still processing, but can also act almost like a fulfillment of your wishes—the wish being to see this person again.

There’s also a chance it could be a visitation dream—which while not particularly common, is still a possibility—bringing us to our next point.


If it’s a visitation dream

According to clairvoyant and medium Catharine Allan, “If the person is happy and at peace in the dream, maybe talking to you or showing you something, and you wake up feeling calm, it could have been a visitation from them. And those are the best dreams of all.”

Additionally, as both Ellis and Loewenberg note, visitation dreams feel distinctly different from your average, everyday dreams. For one thing, Loewenberg says, the person (or pet) probably looks great, healthy, radiant even. Ellis adds when she was visited by Shadow, her cat who had recently passed, his coat was shiny and he looked to be in great shape.


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How to work through this dream

In the case of a visitation dream, there’s nothing to necessarily do besides take comfort in the fact that you feel your loved one reached out to your through the dreamworld. Loewenberg says you could also write it down in a dream journal and keep it in a safe place to treasure it going forward.

In other cases, she says, “it’s definitely a call from your subconscious to try to come to terms with what’s going on.” Whether it’s a feeling of unfinished business or not being able to accept they’ve passed, it’s important to find a way to accept whatever it is.

One great practice for this, she says, is to write them a letter telling them everything you never got the chance to say when they were alive. You can also do your best to look for a lesson if you feel there were things unsaid, and “moving forward in your life, to never let things get to that point again with anyone you care about,” she adds.

“When these dream figures keep returning, it brings a sense of continuity of connection,” Ellis says, adding that toward the end of life, lost loved ones often come to help ease the life-death transition. “So while grief dreams can be painful, most often they help us through the pain of loss,” she says.


What is the meaning of dead person alive in dream?

These dreams most often relate to processing the grief and emotions associated with their death.

What does it mean when you dream of someone who has passed?

When you dream of someone who’s passed, especially shortly after they died, it typically relates to your own feelings of grief and wanting to see them again.


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The takeaway

Grief is never a linear process, and dreaming about a person who died can bring up all those feelings again. Try to find comfort in the dream if you believe you were visited, and if not, there’s likely another message within the dream that can help you move through your grief to reach a place of peace and acceptance.


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