Symbols of death assist in coping with loss and moving on. They are generally religious, ancient, or dark symbols that represent one of two aspects of dying.

Symbols of Death

16 Symbols of Death To Help You Move On

1. La Catrina

La Catrina is a symbol of death in Mexico. She is a skeleton that wears grand clothing that guards those who have died. She reminds people that once you die, it doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are because we all die eventually.

2. Skull and Bones

The skull and bones symbol represent death all over the world. But the tales began in Aztec culture as it was a common symbol in tombs.

3. Flag at Half-Mast

In the United States, flags are at half-mast to honor a recent life taken. It shows that someone important, usually someone who made a difference in the political world, has died.

4. Hawkmoth

The Celtic moth contains a picture of a skull of death on its back. It is a symbol of death, also called Death’s Head, thought to cause blindness and eventual death in many cultures after it spread from Ireland.

5. Thanatos

Thanatos is a Greek god of death. He was the twin brother of Hypnos and a symbol of hate from the world.

He was the original Grim Reaper, taking the living to their deaths when it was their time. Though he was hated, he did not want others to suffer but instead took them in peace.

6. Mummy

Mummies signify an important death. Egyptians were wrapped and preserved after dying to maintain the blessings they would receive in the afterlife. Disturbing these resting places was strictly prohibited.

7. Banshee

The Banshee is a creature with an eye-piercing scream. She is a harbinger of death with anyone who hears her being susceptible to death in the near future.

8. Gravestone

The gravestone is a symbol of death all over the world. It has signified death for thousands of years, with markers still standing from the 1600s, when they were built to last.

9. Rivers

Rivers of Styx and Acheron are said to help souls reach the afterlife in Greek mythology. The river is also a place that was once used in funerals to physically transport bodies to commemorate the spiritual transition.

10. Owuo Atwedee

Owuo Atwedee is an Asante symbol from West Africa. It represents a ladder that helps the dead reach the next realm. This symbol is common for funeral clothing.

11. Coffin

One of the most universal symbols of death is the coffin. It is what most of the world will be buried in when they die. No matter how fancy the coffin, it belongs under the ground to become one with the earth.

12. Grim Reaper

The tale of the Grim Reaper as the god of death has origins in the Middle Ages. After the Black Death, it was said that he was the one responsible for all of the deaths.

13. Hourglass

An hourglass is a symbol of death and time. It represents the fragility of life and how no one’s current life is immortal. One must appreciate each drop of sand.

14. Citipati

Citipati is a symbol of death and protection. It is a depiction of a couple of skeletons dancing in eternity. They have a job that requires them to protect the dead, capturing thieves and graverobbers.

15. Kali

Kali is one of the ten Mahavidyas in the Hindu culture. She is the goddess of time, change, and death. Her depiction of blue skin and intense facial features represent all that she has power over.

16. Angels

Though understood and praised in the secular world as well, angels as harbingers of death began in the Christian religion. They are God’s soldiers who protect the living and escort the dead.

Flowers That Symbolize Death

  • Poppy – fields of these flowers grew over the remains of soldiers who died in World Wars.
  • Chrysanthemum – a popular funeral flower in America and Europe that can survive the harsh winters
  • Hyacinth – a flower that gets its name from the Greek god of Hyacinthus, who is killed by Apollo and from Hyancithus’ carcass, the Hyacinth flower is born

Animal Death Symbols

  • Owl – a bird that represents death and wisdom. Though in some cultures, it’s a positive sign, in Welsh and Aztec cultures, it’s a bad omen.
  • Butterfly – an insect said to be born from an old life into a new one, some believing that the caterpillar dies so the butterfly may live
  • Spider – a symbol of death in ancient worlds, seen as a harbinger that traps souls near death
  • White Horse – signifies death and difficulties in the US. Folklore suggests that glancing at one ensures difficulties and even death ahead.
  • Vultures – they circle the dead and feed off of carcasses.
  • Raven – a symbol of death in most cultures, often connected to witches and the occult.

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