James Joyce's story, "The Dead," exists as one piece of a greater whole. The story is the final text found within Joyce's collective work named Dubliners. As the final story, it speaks to the collections resounding theme of Irish nationality and paralysis of its people (in regards to mobility and spirituality). Essentially, the tales (as a whole) denoted the Dubliners' (inhabitants of Dublin, Ireland) inability to live life to its fullest extent.
As for the text itself, the title refers to both literal death (as seen through Joyce's use of deceased friends and family) and spiritual death (as seen in the character Conroy and his lack of spiritual growth). Given the text is filled with references to things past (emotion, love, feeling, and spirituality), the title serves as a proper denotation and connotation of the word "dead."