Dreams about death can be quite terrifying and upsetting, whether they be about our own death, child deaths, or more simply carry a foreboding feeling of death. Often they present themselves as nightmares, so that we may wake in a cold sweat, fearful of what we’ve just seen.
Thankfully, dreams of your child dying don’t have to carry negative connotations.
Nevertheless, we recommend that if you have recently experienced trauma, or are currently processing grief, it may be a good idea to return to this article at a later date; once you’ve had time to process your emotions.
What do general dreams of a child dying mean?
Dreams are curious things, and the act of dreaming itself is not something that is yet fully understood by science. Having said that, we have made significant inroads into the science of dreams in the last century.
We’ve come to learn that we most likely dream in order to process any burden, significant change (like big life changes), traumatic events or other underlying emotions which are too large for us to solve in waking life.
When we experience dream death, it may be our brain’s symbolic way of severing our connections with upsetting things in our life. Equally, it may be a way of providing us with some stern warnings.
Below is a list of ways you may interpret dreams of a baby dying, an unknown child dying, or even a dream of your child dying.
1. Developmental Anxieties
As a new parent, or even as an experienced one with a new baby, there are naturally going to be a whole host of anxieties surrounding the healthy development and growth of your child.
Young children are hardy things, and with modern medicine, vaccinations against diseases that were once common killers of infants, and access to parental advice online, we needn’t worry too much.
Nevertheless, a dream about your newborn baby, or young toddler, dying is most likely directly linked to your own fears and anxieties about your child’s development.
It is not an indicator of what will happen, but rather just part of your brain’s attempt to consider (and thus rule out) your greatest fear.
2. Concern About Your Parenting Methods
Our subconscious mind uses the dreaming process to contemplate scenarios and work through underlying emotions, so that you can wake up with a fresh perspective to take into your daily life with you.
One such example of this ‘lesson-learning’ quality of dreams would be a dream of a child dying if you are harboring concerns about your own parenting methods.
It is of course natural to worry about our parenting: whether we’re raising good kids, whether we’re raising kids well, what other people might think of our approach, and so forth. But typically these everyday sorts of concerns don’t lead to dreams of death.
The true meaning of such a dream in this scenario would be that you may have been exhibiting some destructive behavior around your child. Equally, you and your partner may be going through some significant life change like betrayal or a divorce, which you fear is impacting your child.
The ‘child die’ dream, in this case, maybe your brain’s way of reminding you to pay attention to your young one’s emotional state.
3. Emotional Distance
Vivid dreams are often signifiers of something deeply emotional. These are the dreams which we remember most clearly, and which have the greatest lasting impact.
If you’ve been spending a lot of time away from your child, or haven’t been in the right headspace recently to dedicate meaningful, quality time to your toddler, then a dream of significant loss – such as the physical death of your offspring – is probably a sign that you’re concerned about the emotional distance you’ve created between you.
On waking, try to make time to foster friendship and companionship between you and your child, and the dead baby’s dreams should soon go.
4. Memory of a painful experience
Sometimes dreams can be complex and convoluted. Sometimes, however, they can be very straightforward: more like memories of past events.
If you have survived the loss of a child in your own life – be it the loss of your own child, a young sibling, a niece or nephew, or the loss of a friend’s child – then there is a good chance you may dream of this loss again.
Such a dream would be your brain’s attempt to process the grief. It can be healthy, therefore, to embrace these dreams.
At the same time, learning to live with the death of the child in your life is a milestone that few people successfully achieve. If you’re struggling, then seek professional help. A doctor may be able to provide medication (such as sleep aids), or refer you to a therapist for grief counseling.
You are never alone in your journey. There are always others with similar stories. Look for them and together share your true selves.
Our children don’t have to be newborns, babies still in the womb, toddlers or young children for us to dream of them dying. As any parent of 20+ years knows, your concerns for your children never quite leave you, even if they might subside some once they reach adulthood.
Dreams of teenage, or pre-teen children dying are almost always linked to our anxieties about losing our precious babies to adulthood. Puberty will bring many changes to your child’s appearance, temperament and outlook on life – it is a brand new chapter for them – and that can be scary for us.
However, like any significant change – a new job, financial changes, moving from an old house to a new home – remember that change is good and natural and will become completely normal in time. You’re not losing your child, you’re just replacing their childhood tantrums with their teenage ones!
What do specific dream scenarios of children dying mean?
Sometimes, we may have death dreams of a particularly disturbing nature. Usually these involve visceral and specific types of death, and usually we are witnesses to them. These dreams may have entirely unique meanings to those discussed above.
1. Dreams of a child drowning
Water is a common feature in dreams with deep emotional connections. The psychologist and author Carl Jung believed that dreams of drowning in water symbolized the universal human experience: being overwhelmed with experience, events and emotion.
To dream of a child drowning or dream of babies drowning may represent the welcoming of a new child in your life to the crazy world around us. It may represent your feeling that your own inner child is drowning and distant from you. Or it may be related to a life change like a child going off to school or college.
2. Pregnancy dreams of an unborn baby dying
The psychology of a pregnant woman is an area woefully understudied. If you are pregnant, and you experience dreams of your unborn baby dying in the womb, or being stillborn, these dreams are going to be extremely traumatic for you.
It’s important to remember, however, that dreams cannot predict the future, nor are they literal. They are projections of a sleeping brain trying to process stresses and fears carried in our daily life.
Dreams of dead babies, whilst pregnant, are perfectly natural (if scary). They symbolize your own anxieties about the pregnancy, but should not be read into more than that.
If you are struggling with the stresses and anxieties of pregnancy, please seek the professional help of your doctor or a therapist. You are not alone. You don’t have to walk this path alone, either.
Dreams about a small child dying – be they your own, or someone else’s – are naturally going to be traumatic upon waking. However, they rarely represent anything negative. Rather, they are an opportunity for self-reflection and introspection, for self-improvement and for the improvement of relations between you and your inner child, or you and the children around you. If, however, the dreams won’t stop, and they distress you greatly, then we recommend seeking help from a therapist, as you may have some deeper trauma that you need to process.
If you die in a dream do you die in real life?
There is a common myth about dying in dreams, which states that if you should experience your own death in a dream, then you have died in real life. Thankfully, this is absolutely not true. People ‘die’ in their own dreams all the time and live perfectly long, happy lives. Moreover, if it were true, how would we ever know?
Is it normal to have dreams of dead babies?
It is completely normal to have dreams of dead babies. In fact, it’s perfectly normal to have any dream about anything at any age and in any situation or outside context. You are asleep, and it is your subconscious which is ‘responsible’ for dreaming. Even then, the images you recall are half-baked and may be completely random. To dream of dead babies is no more significant than to dream of live ones.
What can you do to alleviate dreams of death?
If you’re really struggling with frequent and upsetting dreams of death, then there are a few things you can do to alleviate the stress. You can take sleep aids (sleeping pills), which will knock you into a deeper sleep in which you’re less likely to remember your dreams. Alternatively, you can practice calming techniques before bed, in order to go to sleep with a more stress-free mind. Yoga, for example, is a great way to relax the body and mind.