What's the symbolic significance of seeing dead things everywhere?
January 8, 2006 6:58 PM   Subscribe

I keep seeing dead things everywhere. What's the symbolic significance of this?

Background: It's really strange and I can't explain it. Basically I go for an hour walk each day and at the very least see about three to four dead things. Mostly it's just birds. All different! Sometimes rats, butterflies, and other big insects too.

So, I'm thinking this is a sign to signify something in my life. But what exactly? So far, though, my searching via Google has resulted in me thinking that this could all be symbolic of current and impending changes in my life. But what else could it be? Yeah, I've never really thought symbolically about this kind of thing before, but for some reason (perhaps it's the water here) I think I'd be more open to suggestions that are more outside of the box than just labelling all this as coincidence. Please, enlighten me!
posted by sjvilla79 to Grab Bag (25 answers total)
It's coincidence. You see what you're looking for. I found about twenty well-preserved, dead cicadas this autumn, because I decided to look for them. At the same time, I saw several dead birds in the space of a couple of days, and it was because I was hyper-aware of what was on the sidewalk.
posted by interrobang at 7:01 PM on January 8, 2006

If you have struggled with depression in your life, noticing a lot of dead things would be consistent with a downturn in mood state. Kinda the common cold of suicidal ideation, if you will.

If you are a cheerful individual, perhaps you walk in a place where someone has been too heavy handed with pesticides. ;-)
posted by konolia at 7:02 PM on January 8, 2006

Sometimes windfarms can cause bird kills. Also avian flu.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:07 PM on January 8, 2006

Best answer: Think of death as a door that one can pass through but not return through. Noticing all of these small deaths indicates your approach toward a point of no return, either sought deliberately, or else simply to be recognized after it is reached.

Good luck with that.
posted by hermitosis at 7:08 PM on January 8, 2006

konolia is the voice of reason here. Now THAT'S a sign.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 7:09 PM on January 8, 2006

Things die often. ianad
posted by Azhruwi at 7:11 PM on January 8, 2006

sjvilla - it's hot this time of year. Birds tend to die in this weather - I've seen a few in my back yard in recent days. It's also a time of year that produces a lot of insects which, like butterflies, don't live very long and end up dead too.
posted by Jimbob at 7:15 PM on January 8, 2006

When West Nile Virus swept through these parts (Boston area) a few years ago there were dead birds everywhere. I remember seeing lots of dead crows, jays, and starlings in particular but there were just lots of dead birds. Could you be having an outbreak?
posted by TimeFactor at 7:19 PM on January 8, 2006

I used to walk my dog through the neighborhood, and there was a period when each day I'd see a different dead squirrel on one street or another.
posted by evil holiday magic at 7:27 PM on January 8, 2006

shot in the dark here, but maybe this simply symbolizes a need to attach a symbol/meaning to something/chain of events to make a decision for you or take a decision out of your hands and absolve yourself of any accountability.

for example:

I moved to Seattle because NYC is full of death.

I broke up with you and moved out because the death of our love was being broadcast to me by the universe.

I notice my girlfriend doesn't do all the loving and nice things she used to so that's a sign I must move on and/or cheat.

I drowned our family because, well the universe was broad.... ok I guess I used up all my examples much faster than I thought. But you get the drift.

just chill, don't read anything into it.
I had a friend who was very self absorbed and elitist, who once proclaimed that Guiliani solved the homeless problem and she never sees them ever and how great NYC was. Of course my jaw hit the floor and I proceeded to point out to her the displaced/homeless types on the way home from the bar to the cab to my apartment across the river to queens. I made my point without argument and then we made funky class strife love!!
posted by stavx at 7:43 PM on January 8, 2006

Time of year. Stuff dies in January, especially birds.
posted by fshgrl at 7:45 PM on January 8, 2006

Here's a better question: why haven't you ever noticed it before?

....there have been dead things all around you your entire life, and you're only now bothering to notice?

It's not coincidence, and it's not symbolic.

You've just been oblivious. So, the question really is, why were you so oblivious before, what made you stop, and are you going to keep paying attention or not?
posted by aramaic at 8:02 PM on January 8, 2006

Feeling down? Are you experiencing and hence keenly notice any deaths of the thing with feathers? Maybe the dead rats signify you're worried it'll soon be time to move the hell out of your city.

I used to notice every time a street light went out when I walked under it. After reading this awhile ago, I don't really pay attention to streetlights anymore. But there's nothing wrong with walking around and being sharply aware of your surroundings. Even if the universe isn't sending you a message in that Mandelbrot set the dog poop in the neighbor's yard makes, projecting importance on the things you see can be a way you send a message to yourself. So yes, this could be a "a sign to signify something in [your] life." The importance, though, is more likely to come from your own introspection than from any google-fu.
posted by neda at 8:05 PM on January 8, 2006

Symbollizes our need to create meaning for ourselves. Life's not art, and those who live as if it were are insufferable at cocktail parties.
posted by klangklangston at 8:13 PM on January 8, 2006

It is coincidence, or something you have begun to notice for the first time due to other things in your life. It is not a sign of any kind.

Consider that anyone else walking the same route saw the same amount of dead animals you did. How then could it be a sign for you?
posted by Hildago at 8:39 PM on January 8, 2006

thirteenkiller: Wind Turbines are not the bird killers most people make them out to be. Of course there are bird strikes, just like birds fly into cars or roller-coaster-riding hunks, but since they're undesirable from both a humanitarian and power generation point of view they are agressively minimised.
posted by krisjohn at 9:45 PM on January 8, 2006

I have found I have gotten used to it after twenty or so years.
posted by mwhybark at 10:12 PM on January 8, 2006

Please, enlighten me!

You believe that dead animals are signposts to your future, so that'd be quite a task.

If I was walking behind you and saw the same animals, would that mean our futures were intertwined? What if I only saw a few of them, but not all - would they be only somewhat entwined, sorta similar? What if somebody else saw more dead things than you did? If these animals are signposts, who put them there? If said entity is capable of killing and placing particular animals in your path, why not a note on the sidewalk - "Hey, sjvilla! This is teh universe speaking! Stop drinking the water! See a doctor!"

What makes you think you're important enough for some supernatural force to send a message to, anyways? My backyard is full of dead stuff - insects, spiders, mice (good cat!), a parrot that got stuck in a tree. The planet is crawling with life, and it dies all the time, all over the place. That's a pretty pissweak method of communication - may as well insist that the grains of sand on a beach are arranged in a particular manner, and contain a message encoded just for you.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:06 AM on January 9, 2006

I agree with stavx, but with a bit more of a spiritual tilt.
The animals being dead aren't a sign of something - that you are noticing it IS a sign. It's a sign that you're not seeing something, and perhaps are now ready to. But only you can decide what that is. You aren't going to find the answer here, or on Google.
Of course, after you start saying "Hey, I'm seeing a lot of dead things", the symbolism is gone and you're just noticing them more.
posted by Iamtherealme at 12:54 AM on January 9, 2006

You should read the novel The Book of Dead Birds.
posted by mothershock at 8:21 AM on January 9, 2006

Where do you live? Could it be some sort of environmental pollution that's causing all the death? Did you notice such things in your area this time last year?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:41 AM on January 9, 2006

I asked myself the same thing today on the beach.

Yesterday while hiking and shooting BB guns with the kids, we encountered a dead coyote and a dead pidgeon. The latter was obviously hawk prey. I couldn't tell about the coyote, but I hope it wasn't killed for sport.

Today I came across a very large dead pelican that had been scavenged upon. That's when I asked my self too, "Hmm, what's going on?" My answer to myself was, "Hmm, must be just a part of the cycle of life."
posted by snsranch at 4:46 PM on January 9, 2006

Best answer: Here's a better question: why haven't you ever noticed it before?

....there have been dead things all around you your entire life, and you're only now bothering to notice?

It's not coincidence, and it's not symbolic.

It's not coincidence, but it is symbolic. Obviously it's symbolic, or you wouldn't be posting about it. The real question, though, isn't why they're dead (things die), but why you are suddenly noticing it.

Death is not necessarily a bad thing. It's symbolic of transition, or acceptance, or growth (life feeds on life). What is going on in your life - perhaps under the surface - that is suddenly making you aware of these dead things as a symbol? Could be bad, but could be good. Could be mixed.

That's what I'd ask myself, anyway. Metaphor is a powerful advisor, and death is a powerful metaphor.

Nevermind the smarmy types.
posted by poweredbybeard at 10:28 PM on January 9, 2006

On the outer ring-road circling San Antonio, there is a 2-week period every year I call dead-raccoon-time because of all the critters mowed down. The rest of the year, you'll see them occasionally, but on nowhere near the same scale.

Death is what it is. If you're walking daily, you'll spend plenty of time looking down. As many others have stated, you'll see sometimes more, sometimes less.
posted by jsteward at 10:30 PM on January 9, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry I'm late back to this. Thanks to all for providing very mixed and useful feedback. I think collectively it really helped to assist me in getting some much needed perspective on this. So cheers again.
posted by sjvilla79 at 6:01 PM on January 14, 2006

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