|In modern-day European-based folklore, Death is known as the Grim Reaper depicted in the as wearing a dark hooded cloak and wielding a scythe.
The garb of Death or the black mourning robe, which the first references are found in the early fifteenth century, is very close to the robe of the priest or monk who officiated at the death bed. It is interesting to note that the dead body itself was never garbed in black -- the colour of the winding sheet or shroud seems always to have been white.
The scythe is an image that reminds us that Death reaps the souls of sinners like the peasant harvest corn in his field. Each movement of the scythe brings thousands of souls.
In Greek mythology, Chronos (Cronus) was the king of titans and the father of Zeus. He was also a harvest god called Father Time and carried a sickle which is a tool used in harvesting grain. The Grim Reaper carrying a scythe are directly derived from Cronus. The myth of Chronos eating his children was used in a poetic sense for time devouring all things, as in the old saying "nothing lasts forever."
The boys ran into a reaper twice; once in Nebraska and once when Dean was in a coma. In Nebraska, a faith healer was healing people, but unbeknownst to him, his wife was using black magic to inflict the healed person's sickness or injury on someone else, causing them to die. A life for a life. The boys figured it out and destroyed the talisman she was using, causing the reaper to turn on her and kill her. The second time, the reaper disguised itself as a young woman to talk to Dean about the fact that he was in a coma and needed to let go, to pass on. He was about to agree when Azazel possessed the reaper, forcing her to bring Dean back, which was part of his deal with John for the Colt and John's life.