Monday, August 18, 2014

Death as Metaphor 12: Dreams and the Grave

Poetry can help individuals sort through their traumas and losses. It can help share and express their deepest thoughts.

Feelings of loss may be represented with symbols of ash or dust in a dream. When one loses an important person through death, they must deal with the departure. Dreams help create metaphorical symbols to explain the pain. Sometimes, dreams that revolve around death may be about the dreamer’s own mortality, at other times, the dreams are not about death but about the future, life changes, fear of the inevitable circumstances such as retirement or divorce.

W.S. Merwin wrote in his poem, “Some Last Questions” ( that ash and body parts represent how we put them to good use in life and our eventual death. Violence in dreams may end in death and can symbolize the person’s inner turmoil between good and evil, a failure or judgment of character, including guilt.

Symbols for death vary and may be used to associate the coming of death, going back to death, rebirth, an accidental death, the afterlife, and may even mean life.

The personal grave is another symbol for death and dying. The grave or tombstone in a cemetery is the symbolic representation of the deceased and helps transform our attitude toward death. It leads to a connection between present and future unknown. For example, the person visiting the grave site of the deceased recalls certain events and characteristics of the dead. Graves and things associated with cemeteries are used as metaphors to symbolize different forms of loss and pain. Through memories, one connects the past with the present and learns to make meaning from the future without the presence of the dead.


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