an american flag

Hi Barrett—

Death in dreams is a symbol for change and separation, and should not be interpreted literally. When we dream of our own death, the meaning is even more poignant. A time or phase of our life is drawing to a close (passing away), while a new future is beginning. The description that you use to describe your transition (you roll an American flag around you like a cocoon), is yet another clue that informs us that your “death” is only symbolic. When a caterpillar enters a cocoon, the creature emerges transformed (and still very much alive) into a beautiful flying butterfly.

Because you are wrapped in an American flag, and because your transition is forced, I am curious if the events of 9-11—the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the fourth airliner over Pennsylvania—haven’t somehow impacted your life. Did you lose a friend or loved one in the attacks? Have you lost a job, or do you fear that your future with your current employer now is uncertain? Your transition today may feel uncomfortable, but your dream already is anticipating the “new you,” that tomorrow will emerge from this cocoon.

Dear Dream Doctor—

I think your insight about the flag was on target. In an indirect way, my job was affected by 9-11. The firm I work for began to panic about next year. Then, last month, a very large client who owes the firm tens of thousands of dollars filed bankruptcy. The client’s financial problems hit the breaking point as a result of 9-11. I have also seen a number of my friends, all in their 40’s and all in mid to senior level positions, laid-off since 9-11. So, it is highly likely that the flag is symbolic of the aftermath of the 9-11 for me, which in many ways means that life will never be the same.

Hi Barrett—

In a time of crisis, we have all asked the same questions: Will our lives ever be the same? Has a way of life “passed” forever?

The cocoon in your dream is a powerful symbol. Subconsciously you have recognized this period of transition (your death), but your dream shows that you remain confident for the future.

From a broader perspective, America also has changed as a result of 9-11. Like yourself, though, America still is very much alive, and is ready to embrace the future.

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