“Ask a Priest: What Does a Death-Heralding Dream Mean?”

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Q: I had a dream that a piece of paper told me that I would die at age 23. I dreamt that my grandma was in the hospital and everyone else thought she was dead, but she talked to me and she wasn’t. (She’s not dead in real life.) So then my cousin appeared in a corner of the room and handed me a piece of paper showing me the days I could have died, and then at the bottom it said I’d die at 23 — what does it mean? I have been freaking out! -L.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: In one sense, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the dream — dreams are notoriously hard to interpret and there is no need to drive yourself crazy trying to do so. Most likely, it doesn’t mean anything specific at all. Nonetheless, Jesus did tell us to be ready for death at any moment. “You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come” (Matthew 24:44).

The time Our Lord gives us in this world is the time we have to become saints, with God’s grace. Whether we are given 15 years of life or 115, the important thing is how we use our time in this world for the glory of God and for the good of others.

A healthy fear of death can help keep us humble. It helps us keep an eye on God and eternity. If we are living as God wants and doing our best, then that is all we can do. We are living as best we can in that case.

Maybe this is a good moment to pause and ask yourself what you are doing with your life. Are you on the right path? Do you give God first place? Do you help others? Have a good prayer life? Do you worthily receive the sacraments?

If you answer yes to these questions, you are on a good path. If not, it might be good to go to prayer and see where the Holy Spirit is leading you. It might be helpful to watch our Retreat Guide on “The Complete Christian” as a way of giving yourself a spiritual x-ray.

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