What Happens if you “Die” in a Dream?

There is an old canard that if you die in a dream, you die in real life, too. This I can now say with certainty is not true. Because last night I “died” in a dream, and I’m here to write about it.

I don’t usually to remember dreams for more than a few minutes, but this one stuck because only a couple days earlier I’d been involved in a discussion on exactly this question. So when it happened, I woke up and thought about it enough to fix the memory of the dream in my mind before I went back to sleep.

In the dream, I was competing in a weird event in which I had to push something akin to a shopping cart up an increasingly steep hill, kind of like the runout at the base of a ski jump, in reverse. There was a blue line near the top, shortly before it got super steep, and it was critical to still be running by the time you got to it in order not to stall out on the final pitch and have to try again.

In the dream I had multiple failures before I finally put everything I had into it, passed the line, and looked like I was about to finally make it…only to lose control, veer, and fall of the side of the ramp, nearly at the top.  

In the first attempt, it was me, pushing the cart and trying to run uphill. But with each successive attempt I became more and more detached from myself until there was a “me me” who was competing in the event and an “observer me” watching from the base, like a sports commentator. It was observer me who saw me me fall.

Observer me then climbed to the top and cautiously peered over the side, where I saw “me me” spreadeagled on a concrete slab 100 feet below. I knew it was me because I recognized my hair, and I knew I was dead because there was no way anyone could survive a fall like that. I then wondered a bit about what I’d done wrong to lose control that way, then calmly woke up.

So, I can assure you that if you die in your dream, you don’t die in reality.

I wasn’t even particularly disconcerted and, as I noted above, I only remember it because of the recent discussion. So if you’ve ever wondered about that old canard, forget it. “Me me” is still alive and functioning.