Dreaming of crying – meaning and symbolism

Dreaming of crying - meaning and symbolism

Crying is a part of the everyday human experience. Children cry all the time to express their feelings of sadness, anger, disappointment, and frustration.

However, as we become adults, crying gets excluded from our lives. That is, partially, a social phenomenon – we all learn early on that “boys don’t cry” and that it is perceived as a sign of weakness in both sexes. So we buck up, hold our tears back so many times, and pretend we have something in our eyes when we can’t suppress them.

However, as we grow old, we start to cry more often again, possibly due to less need for pretense and coming to terms with specific feelings and events.

Some people are less prone to crying in general. Small studies show that these people are less socially connected and harbor more negative feelings, such as anger and resentment. I’d say that these states can also be temporary – there are phases in life when we can’t shed a tear. Sometimes, being overwhelmed with negative feelings may prevent you from crying.

It is precisely these moments when we could pour our hearts out in our dreams.

What is the exact meaning behind crying in dreams?

The answer is not exactly easy since crying and tears symbolism has had different and often contradictory. However, the interpretations are still fascinating.

Let’s explore crying in dreams in all its duality.

Crying in dreams as an emotional release

Dreams help us face situations we tend to avoid in real life safely. Also, in our dreams, we tend to run into subjects we avoid during our waking hours.

That is why, if something has been making you sad, and it has been obscured from your view, in reality, it just may happen that you cry over it in your dream. It can be grief over a personal or a material loss or the resurfacing of a past trauma that you haven’t managed to integrate fully.

However, crying in dreams will not make your sadness harder and harsher—quite the opposite.

When interpreting dreams that include crying, I like to emphasize the sense of release – the release from pent-up emotions, which is what crying essentially is. I also believe that these “dream cries” might feel even more releasing than real-world crying with its ups and downs and messiness (no need for tissues in dreams!).

The very act of crying in a dream can bring you a sense of relief in reality. Also, if the dream is abstract, you should notice other symbols appearing in a dream to put the pieces together. That is how a dream that includes crying can help you find out what you are grieving subconsciously and finally bring it to light so it can be integrated, so you could finally let go.

Waking up crying

Waking up crying

If you have children or young siblings, you’ve probably sometimes heard them cry out in their sleep and then wake up crying. While his experience is much rarer in adult life, it does occur to some people.

Waking up crying signifies mourning of a particular loss. The suffering is usually hidden during your waking hours – you may not have been even aware of it or simply won’t admit it. This is often true about situations in life when you experience “forbidden” emotions. For example, it can be a loss of a lover you never admitted you cared about. Or, you may have a cousin you haven’t talked about in years and then learned about their passing.

These emotions can erupt in dreams so intensely that it breaks the dream-reality barrier, and you find yourself crying in your bed, for real.

Besides being a possible real release, I’m aware that these types of dreams can be disturbing. You may feel that facing all those emotions suddenly and essentially without your approval is violating, but in the long run – it’s good for you. Accept these dreams and try to bring your feelings into consciousness, accepting them as they are.

Dreaming of somebody else crying

Dreaming of somebody else crying

According to Eve Anderson’s Dream Dictionary, if you dream of someone else crying, that means that that person needs your empathy. It may be someone you’ve had a bad relationship with or somebody you’ve put out of your mind.

Also, if you hear somebody crying from out far in your dream, even without seeing who it is, it may mean someone you know is in distress and needs help.

Dreaming of a dead person crying

Dreaming of a dead person crying

An interesting twist in crying dreams is when you dream about somebody else crying when the person is dead in real life.

According to some independent interpreters, dreaming of a deceased person crying means that you miss them and (or) that you have regrets about your relationship – especially their last days.

In my experience, this is correct. A woman I know, who often dreamt of her tragically killed childhood friend crying, knew that this friend of hers needed a lot of empathy, understanding, and forgiveness because of his difficult life. She felt guilty because she wasn’t able to help him and grieved over their innocent days when they were just kids.

While she could not provide him with that during their earthly days, the dreams of him crying and her comforting him at least helped her heal her own wounds regarding their relationship. You could say that his tears were their mutual tears.

If you believe you’ve done that person wrong, asking for forgiveness in your thoughts and saying prayers for the person can really help mend the emotional wound over time.

Other interpretations – positive and negative crying dreams

As you probably know, dream interpretations, especially old and ancient ones, can be contradictory. Dreams of crying are a perfect example of that.

As you see, modern psychology doesn’t interpret crying dreams as bad, but not extremely positive either.

However, in the more traditional dream interpretation realm, dreams of crying were perceived as either foreboding or very favorable.

First, let’s explore the idea that tears in dreams are a good sign. This stance can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt, where tears were related to fertility – and fertility was historically the most coveted thing. Flooding of the river Nile was a key event that made the Egyptian fields fertile. According to the Egyptian legend, the Nile flooded thanks to the tears of the goddess Isis, who cried while searching for her murdered husband.

Much later, tears were associated with fecundity in psychoanalytic theory – because of the association with water fertility and (believe it or not) sperm.

Those are all the reasons why many classic and modern oracles believe that dreaming of crying is a positive sign – of economic prosperity and social success. You’ll be able to resume your projects and create something valuable out of them. Also, your desires could be satisfied, naturally resulting in happiness and joy.

However, since the focus of these interpretations is on the tears rather than on the crying itself, note that tears have to be visible in a dream for these positive aspects to be fulfilled.

In the book Dictionary of Dreams – Every Meaning Interpreted, based on older, classic dream interpretations and writings of Sigmund Freud, Henri Bergson, and Gustavus Hindman Miller, crying dreams essentially appear as a bad omen.

The Dictionary of Dreams puts forward that crying is a “forerunner of illusory pleasures” that will inevitably turn dark and gloomy. Also, the negative effect on business engagements and domestic affairs is possible. To dream of crying in hell “denotes the powerlessness of friends to extricate you from the snares of enemies.”

Personally, nobody ever came to me with a dream of crying in hell, but back in the day, when that doomed place was more dominant in the collective unconscious, it is possible that it was more present in the dream realm as well.

However, when considering these negative interpretations, note that in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, there was much less focus on the importance of an emotional release – emotions were considered in a rather utilitarian way. Hence, the significance of crying dreams I’ve mentioned previously was a bit neglected, along with the importance of emotional venting.

On the other hand, the significance of releasing and expressing oneself through tears was probably recognized in ancient wisdom. The knowledge of the cleansing power of tears was expressed through myths, legends, and stories and found its way into dream interpretation as well.


Dreams that include crying can be valuable tools in getting to know yourself. They may reveal hidden grievances, regrets, and forgotten essential figures in your life. Crying is a form of emotional release – even in dreams. It can help you pinpoint, heal and move on from your real-life trauma.

Interestingly, a dream display of tears has been known as a sign of fertility and prosperity since ancient times.

The most important thing about the recurring crying dreams is to focus on the deeper content – who are the people involved, objects, and other significant symbols. They can tell you more about where the grief you feel in your dream is coming from, or who of all the people in your life, living or deceased, needs your empathy and understanding.

Do you have dreams that include crying? How often? Do you cry in real life and in your dreams, or is one of these realms excluded? If you have anything interesting to share or add, please do so in the comments.


Huy is the founder of thesymbolism.com. He has a passion for helping people learn about the wonderful world of their dreams and their inner-self. Once understand what the dream means and relates to their personal reality, this will help people make better decisions with their life.

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