Daily Archives: February 3, 2014

Departing Visions and a Skeptic


Chapter 1

A Visit from a Red-Haired Stranger

“Da is going to the sky!”
— Joshua Sylvan Brandon

My father-in-law was sick, and the prognosis was not good. Life had been rotating around his illness for a number of months, and I was way behind on my household chores, including grocery shopping. Living on an island off the Texas coast, pickings are slim for a vegetarian palate. Every few months, I trek to the mainland for what my children call “Momma’s weird food.”

After one such trip taken during a long afternoon in stagnant, ninety-degree conditions, my traveling companion—my three-year-old son, Joshua—was exhausted, hot and hungry. Too tired to nap and boosted by the return to the car’s air conditioning, he began demanding a breast for comfort.

While navigating the steering wheel with one hand, I reached back and patted Josh on one of his plump little legs. I knew he was becoming very tired because he was rubbing his eyes. “Honey, Momma can’t nurse you right now.”

“I can’t go to sleep without it, Momma. You come back here so I can have some,” he cried.

Knowing I was in for a battle, I decided to try logic. “Well, honey, if I come to the backseat with you, who will drive the car?”

My young son looked at me as if I were just dumber than dirt. “Let Damus drive! He can drive!” Checking my rearview mirror to make sure I didn’t have another passenger with me, I asked, “Josh, who is Damus?”

With exasperation and a yawn, Josh replied, “Damus is right here, Momma. Now let him drive the car!”

No longer in a mood to argue, I said, “Damus can’t drive.” There! I thought. That should settle this! It didn’t.

Looking stunned, Josh replied, “How do you know?”

The next day, Josh and I were again on the go. While I was driving—enjoying the scenery and the breeze that had come up—I suddenly remembered Damus. I decided to ask Joshua a few questions about his friend. Josh was busy looking at a new dinosaur toy with huge teeth, some vicious-looking creature his father had recently bought him. I asked, “Honey, who is Damus?”

With a growl he replied, “Oh, he’s just some kid from the sky. A kid with red hair.”

A kid from the sky! With red hair? I silently moaned. Then I thought, Where have I gone wrong! I’m a qualified mental-health provider! Why does my child need an imaginary friend? The stress of his grandfather’s illness had been overwhelming, but I try to give Josh lots of hugs, attention and love. He goes to the office with me and is not neglected. And he’s three years old, and I’m still breast-feeding. This is just too much! I was beside myself with another one of my “rotten mother” panic attacks. Once I calmed down, I decided I needed to know more about this Damus character.

“Sweetie, how long has Damus been around?” I asked, keeping one eye on the rearview mirror and another on the beachfront street.

“Oh, Damus just got here a few days ago,” answered my son as he attacked the backseat with his fanged creature.

“Damus just got here?” I asked. “Is he a friend of yours?” Still growling away, Josh said, “No, Mom! He just got here! He came here for Da!” “Da” was what the boys called their very ill grandfather, who was in the hospital looking very gray around the gills.

The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I suddenly felt very chilled and overwhelmed. I pulled the car on to the beach, turned off the engine, faced my son and asked, “Joshie, is Damus here right now?”

His green eyes were already taking in the beach. “Momma, can I go play in the water? Hey! Let’s build a sand castle! Maybe we will see those jelly things on the beach!”

Once again, I asked, “Honey, is Damus here?”

“No, Mom. He isn’t here right now. He only comes when he wants to!” my little boy replied with much irritation. He then started to crawl out of his supposedly childproof car seat. Obviously, Damus wasn’t as important to him as was seeing if any jellyfish had floated to the shore.

After playing in the ocean and running our errands, we were off again. Once in the car, I asked Josh if Damus was back. He looked to the seat beside him, smiled and said, “Yes.”

I couldn’t see a thing, so I asked, “What does Damus look like, honey?” Returning his gaze to the seat next to him, Josh answered, “Mom, he looks just like a big kid.” With this, he picked up his dinosaur toy and returned to his play.

Damus was with us for the rest of November while Pop’s condition continued to deteriorate. Every once in a while, Josh would announce that Damus was back and all of us—myself, my husband Michael and my older son Aaron—would turn to catch a glimpse of this elusive creature. None of us ever saw Damus, which was very confusing to Joshua.

The Beginning of the End

On Thanksgiving Day my father-in-law was out of the hospital, and he and my mother-in-law joined us for a somewhat traditional holiday feast. Michael had cooked a turkey, upside down, and I had made a tofu pumpkin pie. In spite of our cooking, everyone had a great time. Michael and I shared family gossip with my in-laws, while the boys wrestled under the table with the dog. Pop was looking better than he had in weeks. We were all very hopeful.

The day after Thanksgiving, Pop was hit by a huge stroke that completely paralyzed him. After this, he was no longer able to eat or talk. We also were never really sure if he understood what we were saying. The kids were absolutely devastated, especially my older son, who worshipped his six-foot-tall, bigger-than-life, war-hero grandfather. Our family was camped out at the hospital at least twelve hours a day, with different members taking shifts. More relatives flew to the island as doctors and nurses poked and prodded Pop. Being in the hospital before this major stroke had been very difficult for my father-in-law. For years he was an eye surgeon, a Frenchman who was used to giving orders and being in control. To see him laying helpless in a hospital bed was heartbreaking.

December crept into our lives. It was the season of Hanukkah, a favorite time of the year for Jewish children. With potato pancakes, singing and merrymaking, Hanukkah was a time to celebrate with friends and relatives. Sadly, the season was difficult that year. Pop was dying and we all knew it. The only question was when. My sister Lila had flown from California to be with us, and she distracted my children with her eccentric aunt shenanigans. Having her with us was a blessing. She had been a hospice nurse and knew firsthand about the dying process. Michael and I were spending more and more days at the hospital, at the same time trying to keep everything as normal as possible at home for our sons. In spite of Pop’s condition, we wanted them to have their eight nights of Hanukkah. Their Da would have wanted this for them, too.

In the Time of Dying

One evening, we were hosting our annual Hanukkah dinner. The house was full of loving friends. Michael and I were bursting into tears every five minutes, while our wonderful friends took turns holding us and providing words of comfort. The stress was incredible and definitely starting to take its toll. Everybody pitched in, and we were able to make the party happen. After the Hanukkah candles were lit, the latkes devoured and the wrappings of the presents scattered across the floor, my oldest son asked, “What will happen to Da when he dies?”

Our family had always been very open about death, and both of my young sons were full of questions, as usual. Josh reminded us all that Damus would take Da to the sky, but my oldest boy wasn’t quite comfortable with this idea. As a card-carrying member of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, I was able to share with my children vivid tales of people who were close to death, yet who returned to life with visions of heavenly landscapes. Because of my role as a licensed marriage and family therapist, I had worked not only with the grieving, but also the dying. With this wealth of experience, I was able to speak about the many stories I had heard from clients who had been at death’s door.

Stories of encounters with angels and loved ones who had already passed on were common in my office. An acquaintance of mine, Dr. Raymond Moody, had written a number of bestselling books on this topic, a phenomena he called the near-death experience (NDE). I passed his works on to my mother-in-law and my oldest son. Then I decided to share with my family an experience I had with my own mother when she was passing.

A Good-Bye Hug

When I was sixteen, my beloved mother died a terrible death. When she was just thirty-three, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Back then, treatment for this disease was hit-and-miss at best. By the time her thirty-eighth birthday rolled around, she was on her deathbed. At five in the morning, moments before her passing, I awoke from a deep sleep and knew intuitively that my mother was dying in the hospital. A chill ran down my spine as I arose, put on my fuzzy pink bathrobe and slippers and then went downstairs to sit by the phone. Alone in the early dawn, I could feel the sadness penetrating every cell of my being. As the sun came up over the backyard orchard of fruit trees, the tears began to slowly slide down my cheeks. My beautiful, vivacious mother was gone and I knew it. About fifteen minutes later, a dear friend of hers called our home to tell me she had died. When he shared this news with me, I quietly replied, “Yes, I already know.”

At this same time, two very good family friends were also getting out of their beds and slipping into bathrobes. They too had suddenly awakened at 5:00 a.m., miles away from the hospital in separate locations. As their eyes opened, they also knew my mother was departing this world a… (the rest of this story can be found in my book “One Last Hug Before I Go: The Mystery and Meaning of Deathbed Visions).

Physical Death Isn’t the End: Departing Visions Tell Us So


“Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.” William James, (1842-1910)

Departing Visions tell us death is nothing to fear. As the hour of earthly departure draws near talk about other worldly visitations from deceased relatives or friends is not unusual. Encounters with angels or religious figures take place and heavenly visions of a colorful afterlife are shared. Along with this those at the bedside of the dying report seeing a “vapor,” “cloud,” “smoke,” “light,” or “mist” leaving the body. Even dreams can foretell an upcoming death. The famous American author Mark Twain (below) dreamt in detail about his brother’s passing before the event occurred. These are all examples of the Departing Vision.


Such wondrous experiences bring peace of mind to the physically dying and comfort to those left behind. After such glimpses into the afterlife, anxiety or fear about death vanishes. With this, a better life can be lived.

The phenomenon isn’t new. Accounts of this nature have been with us for thousands of years. At one time physical death was part of the everyday backdrop of life. As recently as a hundred years ago we passed at home in our own beds, surrounded by family and friends. Even children were present at the deathbed. If the dying began talking about seeing deceased loved ones, friends, angels or visions of heaven, this wasn’t seen as strange. Instead such conversation was embraced.

Sadly, today the physical conclusion of a life is often seen as the end of consciousness. With this, the Departing Vision has been shoved into a closet of secrecy. Experiencers are dismissed and investigators are ridiculed. Forgotten are the decades of credible scientific research devoted to the phenomenon. Though extreme doubt has been created in the mind of the public, not everyone is buying this.

When my mother Carol passed away in a hospital I had a Departing Vision. Shortly after my 16th birthday, I awoke at five in the morning and knew her spirit was no longer bound to a cancer ridden body. Minutes later a phone call confirmed this.

My cousin Virginia and an aunt also felt her leave.

Your Aunt Helen and I were both awakened on the morning of Carol’s death. In a dream, I saw a figure in white… standing by Carol’s hospital bed and heard the words, “everything is going to be alright.”

My mother called and said, “Something’s happened with Carol.”

“What?” I asked.

“She died,” Mom explained.

Later someone called and confirmed your mother’s death. [2]

Two of my mother’s friends were also stirred from sleep that morning. Richard told me both he and another family acquaintance felt her soul leave just as dawn broke. Five of us, living in separate locations, received one last hug from my mother as she left this life to join her parents and brother on the other side.

Departing Visions soften loss for those left behind and ease passage for the physically dying. Below is another account which makes this perfectly clear.

Natalie Kalmus was very ill. Her family decided not to tell her about her cousin Ruth’s passing. What Natalie’s sister Elenor heard at her bedside, gave her a shock.

I sat on her bed and took her hand. It was on fire. Then Elenor seem to rise up in bed, almost to a sitting position.

“Natalie,” she said, “There are so many of them. There’s Fred and Ruth – what’s she doing here?

An electric shock went through me. She had said Ruth! Ruth was her cousin, who had died suddenly a week before. But I knew that Elenor had not been told of the sudden death….

…. Her voice was surprisingly clear. “It’s so confusing. There are so many of them!” Suddenly her arms stretched out happily. “I am going up with them,” she murmured. [3]

How did the physically dying Natalie know her cousin Ruth had passed on? No one shared this with her. A similar encounter from Robin Abrams validates the above Departing Vision.

I witnessed firsthand my father’s (Albert Abrams) “peek” into the afterlife. Due to a devastating stroke, he was confined to a bed in a nursing home . . . . One year after his stroke, to the date, my brother… was murdered…. We decided, as a family, to withhold the news of my brother’s murder from my father for as long as possible. There is absolutely no way he could have known my brother had died.

In less than a week after my brother’s death, my father said (very fluently, which was surprising because the stroke had affected his speech), “I used to have three children, now I only have two.” We asked him, “Why did you say that, Dad?” And he looked at us as if we were nuts….

… Along with this, my father made several references to receiving messages from my mother. She had been deceased for fifteen years. It is important for you to know that my father’s mind, when awake, had never been sharper. I truly believe, with absolutely no doubt, that for a time, he had a foot in both worlds. [4]

Mr. Abrams told Robin he knew her brother was no longer living. No one had provided him with any information about this brutal murder.

Robin’s account parallels the previous vision. In both instances the ill person is initially unaware that a beloved family member has passed. Those at the bedside take great steps to protect bedridden loved ones from news about these losses. Finally, notice the surprised reaction the physically dying express upon being visited by the person who has, unknowingly to them, recently moved on.

After such an encounter experiencers can feel confused and are not sure where to go next. Providing a guide for understanding Departing Visions lets experiencers know they are not alone. A stepping off place, with resources for them to continue the journey is what is needed. Physical death is not the end. Because of this, a new paradigm for consciousness is needed. Departing Vision experiences provide the grass roots for this shift in societal awareness.

1 – Ruehl, F. Two Celebrated Authors’ Precognitive Dreams! TheBLOG, TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. 07/24/2012. TheHuffingtonPost.com
2 – Wills-Brandon, C. Heavenly Hugs: Comfort, Support, and Hope from the Afterlife. New Page: Pompton Plains, NJ 2012. 13.
3 – Wills-Brandon, C. A Glimpse of Heaven: The Remarkable World of Spiritually Transformative Experiences. White Crow: Guildford Surrey, UK 2012. 44-45.
4 – Wills-Brandon, C. One Last Hug Before I Go: The Mystery and Meaning of Deathbed Visions. HCI: Deerfield Beach, FL, 2000. 171-172.

Carla Wills-Brandon, MA, PA, LMFT, is the author of thirteen books, including a Publishers Weekly bestseller. She has also been investigating the phenomenon known as the deathbed or departing vision for close to thirty years. Physically dying individuals, family, friends and the healthcare workers attending them report encountering the departing vision. A few scientifically based researchers have also studied this phenomenon, but sadly the experience is rarely discussed openly in public circles. Three of her titles address departing or deathbed visions.

Not only is Carla a departing vision experiencer herself, but as a successful Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist she regularly uses the phenomena to assist those clients of hers who have suffered loss or trauma. Based on her continued work she believes the departing vision strongly suggests consciousness continues after physical death. In this article she gives us a brief glimpse into her investigations. Here most recent book, Heavenly Hugs: Comfort, Support, and Hope from the Afterlife, is her third title to discuss Departing Visions.

Medical Caregivers need to “Wake Up!”: Afterlife Contact Eases Passing for the Physically Dying


Image“We had enough, quite enough snobbery in this world without exporting it to the hereafter.”[1]

Rick Riordan, Author (1964 – )

Snobbery! I love the word! Merriam-Webster defines snobbery as “Snobbish conduct or character” and “Snobbish: being or characteristic of a person who has an offensive air of superiority and tends to ignore or disdain anyone regarded as inferior.” [2]

It has been my clinical and personal experience that those individuals, who are “snobbish” in their behavior, typically have difficulty with change. Looking down upon others throws up a barrier which says, “I will continue to see my own ideas as superior, because I don’t want to be challenged to change.”

Snobbery serves a purpose. Simply put, if you come to me with an idea, lifestyle, religion, experience or concept which forces me to re-evaluate my position, beliefs, faith or creed, chances are one of my first reactions will be fear, laced with a good dose of anxiety. These are very uncomfortable emotions. Many of us become extremely uneasy when confronted with opposing ideas. Wanting to stay emotionally within our own comfort zone, we can fight like a warrior. In doing so, snobbery might be one of our weapons of choice.

For me my own emotional comfort zone is sort of like the secure feeling I get when curled up on my Victorian couch. After a rough day at the office, my afghan comforts me as I snuggle up on my pretty sofa. Enjoying the warmth of a roaring fire in the fireplace the sensation reminds me of a mother’s hug.  At that moment not only do I feel safe and protected, but in control of my surroundings. All is right within my world. If someone were to say to me, “That chaise longue of yours is a horrible color!” with much snobbery I might reply, “Well, you just don’t appreciate fine antiques!” I’d need to protect my comfort zone!

Anytime we experience a change in our emotional zone we will feel “dis-ease.” If we are rigid in temperament we may then fight this emotional, intellectual, physical or spiritual change with everything we have. In doing so we may even degrade the ideas, beliefs, needs or desires of others, especially those challenging us. Empowering ourselves with a sense of superiority or “snobbery,” we then fool ourselves into believing any opposing changes presented to us are unnecessary or not worthy of our attention.  Sadly, such stubborn behavior not only hurts us, but can hurt others. Such obstinate inflexibility is especially true in much of the healthcare, mental health and clergy industry.

For the last 30 years I have been investigating the Departing Visions of the dying and those who love them. For decades, I’ve listen to my therapy clients share how they were visited by a departing loved one in a dream, or an “a wake” vision, shortly before a passing. Those at the bedside of the physically dying have reported watching a “vapor,” “light,” “cloud,” “mist,” or “fog” leave the physical body at the moment of death. I have also been at the bedside of those in the process of passing. As they carried on animated conversations with invisible deceased relatives and friends, angels and religious icons, I’ve seen how medical caregivers, mental health workers and the clergy react. Many of these caregivers continue to look for traditional explanations for the Departing Vision experience.

We must look at how death and dying is currently dealt with in our society. When faced with our own physical mortality fear can override all thinking. Denial and avoidance become dysfunctional coping skills. Once illness or old age sets in banishment to hospitals and nursing homes can take place. In centuries past, the sick and elderly continued to be part of the family system until physical death. Fear of aging and dying was a not an overwhelming societal issue.

Today, when loss occurs with the passing of a loved one, this sets the stage for depression and addiction to alcohol, prescription medications, work, food and more for the living. I see it in my office weekly. Western society has taught us to cut grieving short. In spite of this our feelings of loss stay with us. The emotions are then buried and healing can’t happen.

Release from the physical body was once seen as a spiritual occasion, but over the past decades, death and dying has become a very antiseptic event. This change in perception has greatly contributed to our current, overwhelming sense of age and death phobia. Because of this, over the next several months I will be addressing how our healthcare institutions react to the Departing Vision.

With this in mind, let’s start with the medical community.

For our great-grandparents Departing Visions were part of the societal landscape and this eased grief for both the physically dying and the living. If a physician was attending a dying patient who was having Departing Visions, such experiences would be validated. The physician would know the patient was being greeted by deceased loved ones and this information would then be shared with the family. Being exposed to physical death and the accompanying Departing Visions took the edge off grief. Along with this, the fear of physical mortality was lessened.  With each subsequent passing, the lesson learned was this; physical death isn’t the end. Sadly today, afterlife encounters are dismissed by most medical caregivers. Antiseptic, traditional dogmatic science has pushed spirituality out the door. To make my point, I recently came across this:

“American experts have explained the nature of visions before death. Dr. Lahmir Chawla … (George Washington University medical center)… think(s) that the dying vision (is) caused by a wave of electrical activity in the brain when the brain lacks oxygen…. As the oxygen level in blood drops and blood flow slows down, brain cells produce… (a last) electric pulse. This process begins in one part of the brain and the cascade extends beyond that and can cause sensory sensation in humans.” [3]

The author then states this lack of oxygen creates the sensation of being out of the body, seeing a tunnel and reporting visions of God. After reading this I thought to myself, “Should I scream now or later?”

Physicians often attribute these visions to a dying brain, oxygen deprivation, medication, and illness. The above investigation, based on just 7 patients, was one more example of traditional medicine looking for a traditional explanation for these experiences.  Interestingly researchers have disproven the lack of oxygen theory in several studies on Departing Visions. In my latest books “Heavenly Hugs: Support, and Hope from the Afterlife” (2012) and “A Glimpse of Heaven: The Remarkable World of Spiritually Transformative Experiences” (2012) I go into this in depth.

Though many physicians attribute Departing Vision encounters to hallucinations, wishful thinking, stress or biological factors, how do they respond to peers who report similar spiritual experiences?

Once skeptical Harvard neurosurgeon Eben Alexander published his fantastic Near Death Experience account last year in the bestselling book titled, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.  Aside from a heavenly excursion into the afterlife, Alexander also reported meeting a sister he never knew. Adopted as an infant, the neurosurgeon had no idea his spiritual guide during his NDE was his deceased biological sister.

Once he recovered from the meningitis responsible for his brush with death, he saw a picture of her and learned her true identity. One would think a Harvard neurosurgeon would give professional credence to afterlife experiences in general, but not so says known “skeptic” blogger and author Paul Raeburn. In a blog picked up by The Huffington Post, Raeburn says this;

“I strongly object to Alexander’s, and Newsweek/Beast’s and Simon & Schuster’s collusion in dressing this up as scientific evidence for heaven, golden-locked lasses, and out-of-body experiences. There is nothing scientific about Alexander’s claims or his “proof.” We are all demeaned, and our national conversation is demeaned, by people who promote this kind of thing as science. This is religious belief; nothing else.”[4]          In my own writings which have explored sophisticated, scientifically based research into the Departing Vision experience, I’ve found results from Ireland, England, Holland, Italy, the U.S. and more confirming Alexander’s account. Sadly, writers like Raeburn, who also reports to be a scientist, carry a lot of weight with traditional medical professionals. The mainstream media is quick to latch on to such individuals, using them as “experts” to dispute personal spiritual experiences like Near Death Experiences, After Death Communications, Departing Visions, precognition and other afterlife encounters. In reviewing Raeburn’s publications I found many of his writings in numerous prestigious publications. When I see closed mindedness like this I’m always tempted to send out accounts like the following group Departing Vision involving a team of surgeons.

Stunned surgeons watch dying man’s soul leave his body during operation

Stockholm—A team of surgeons, struggling feverishly in a futile effort to save the life of a plane crash victim watched in stunned amazement as the man’s soul departed his lifeless body!

The incredible drama which offers irrefutable proof of life after death, unfolded in a Swedish hospital.

And the vapor-like specter that rose from the victim’s mangled body was seen by three famous surgeons, an anesthesiologist, six nurses and four technicians.

“Everything happened so suddenly and quickly that I sometimes wonder if I just imagined it,” said Dr. Jan Lundquist, the anesthesiologist told reporters.

“But I didn’t just imagine it. We all saw it—a dazzling misty-blue light that came right out of the body. It floated upward and then just seemed to dissolve like a stream into nothing.

“I wasn’t surprised at all that the patient died. He was in a terrible state. The surgeons did everything they could. But even as they worked, I knew we were losing him.

“Suddenly every vital sign ceased. All life signs just stopped. There was just a deep, hollow, moaning sound and I looked up to tell the surgeon that out patient was gone.

That’s when I saw an incredible shimmering light.

“Right before our eyes that glowing vapor rose. Somehow I was watching the soul leave the mortal remains of the man who lay before me.

Dr. Ulta Jurgenson, one of the three surgeons who also witnessed the miracle, said she tried to find some other explanation for what she saw.

But she said she is now convinced the misty phantom that rose before her eyes could only have been the dead man’s soul.

“I have been an atheist all my adult life,” the 53 year old surgeon said. “I have never believed in God or the hereafter.

“But now I’m not so sure. All I know is that I saw something that I cannot explain rise up out of the body of a dead man.”

Nurses and physicians all watch as a “dazzling misty blue” light leaves the body of a patient they are trying to save. Even those who are nonbelievers now find themselves questioning life after death.

For those of us who have witnessed a departing vision, we know we are changed forever. Experiencing any sort of afterlife encounter can tear down any misconceptions we have about the continuation of life. Such experiences force us to not only re-evaluate our spiritual beliefs, but every aspect of our lives. We now have a new paradigm for living life. Materialism takes a back seat to deeds of service and further spiritual exploration. [5]

When it comes to the dying process, traditional medical caretakers have a lot to learn. Many physicians and nurses believe they totally understand the psychological and physiological process of dying, but with new research into nonlocal consciousness (consciousness surviving outside the brain) long held medical ideas are now being challenged.

I often tell healthcare givers there is absolutely nothing wrong in admitting, “I don’t know.” Not having all of the answers opens us up to new possibilities. Breaking out of rigid dogma we can finally become explorers and seekers.  Snobbery, stubbornness and a closed mind slams the door on progress and spiritual evolution.

So, my message to the medical community is this; there are those of you who have recognized that as the hour of departure draws near, something spiritually extraordinary occurs. Visitations from deceased relatives or friends come to gently take the dying to an afterlife existence. Angels, religious figures and glimpses of a colorful afterlife are also shared.  When a passing finally occurs a vaporous soul can be seen leaving the body.  You have been able to validate these encounters for those you serve, facilitating healing for both the physically dying and living. You are a blessing.

Then there are those of you who are unable or unwilling to hear what your patients are saying to you. Know you create unneeded grief when you are unable to hear these accounts. When dying patients along with their family and friends at the bedside realize you cannot hear them, there will be consequences. They will turn away in disappointment, anger and even shame.  When you tell them any of the following, they will stop talking with you. 

• “That’s just a hallucination.” • “It’s the stress of the illness.” • “You have an over active imagination.” • “What you think you saw was the result of a dying brain.” • “It’s just the medication.” • “Illness has caused this.” • “Wishful thinking for an afterlife is what this is.” • “Your relative is dying. It’s physiology.” • “I’m the doctor and I can tell you if you believe you saw something that isn’t there, maybe you need more medication.”

After such remarks, not only will patients and their loved ones no longer trust you, but because of such stubbornness you will be at risk for no longer evolving as a compassionate caretaker.

Instead of dismissing Departing Visions you can find another healthcare provider who is able to listen to these accounts. You can also say, “I don’t know much about these experiences but I have heard of them. Tell me more about your encounter.” Then just pay attention. You don’t need to share your opinion. Finally, if confused about these experiences, look into the research.   Over the last few decades more members of the medical community have bravely stepped forward to embrace the Departing Vision. In exploring this phenomenon, they have assisted in reclaiming this facet of spirituality, reduced societal death phobia; shed more light on the find meaning of life, and on physical death. Like me I know they too are dedicated to continuing to do whatever it takes to be a shining example of the truth.

Why Religion and After Life Exploration Go Hand In Hand


ImageSeveral years ago, I was at a delightful dinner party where the food was excellent, and the “table talk” was thought provoking. Most of those attending this gathering were very open to life after death issues, so naturally, this was what conversation rotated around. Professional health care workers, school administrators, clergy and even a couple of retail folk spent most of the evening sharing very personal, spiritually transformative experiences. I talked about my own mother-in-law’s recent deathbed vision, while a politician friend spell bound the dinner crowd with his near death experience.  With regard to these intimate shares, we were all in agreement that our individual encounters were treasured, life altering gifts.

As we made our way through chocolate desserts, the “feel good” experience of sharing suddenly evaporated. The mood turned and there was a tension in the air which put everyone on edge. Why did this happen? One word did it and that word was RELIGION.  As rich scented coffee was poured, a provocative statement was made about organized religion.  The initiator of this new leg of conversation said, “It’s too bad that religion stunts afterlife exploration.” Because of this one statement, the table talk was suddenly divided into two camps. With this, the discussion became heavy and at times, very “heated.”

A couple of the diners were convinced that religion in any form was at the root of all societal evil.  They wanted nothing to do with it and added that they firmly believed theology in general, regularly discounted spiritual encounters, near death experience, after death communications, death bed visions and other “ah! ha!” moments of enlightenment. For this anti-religion camp, religion in any form was viewed as true canned pabulum for the masses, lacking in depth and creative thinking.  With arms folded across their chests, they righteously proclaimed that religion was for the intellectually dead, a dogma that humankind could very well do without.

Oddly, most of those at the table who practiced one form of religion or another were keeping very tight lipped.  I understood their fear of taking a stand. As a practicing Jew, this was not the first time I had been knocked over with a tidal wave of anger toward religion. At one time, I too swam the tide of indignation toward religious institutions.  For years, I had tremendous rage toward clergy, synagogues, churches, prayer, and any concept of a higher spiritual creator or power. The very word “religion” could bring my blood to an instant boil within a matter of seconds. Eventually, after much soul searching, I discovered my generalized rage toward religion wasn’t about religion at all. In actuality, my anger needed to be directed toward those individuals who had miss-used religion for their own gain. 

Because I took the time to separate those who had hurt me with their abuse of religion, from the concept of religion itself, today I’m in a very different place. 

After listening patiently to the anti-religion camp for almost an hour, I put on my emotional “boxing gloves” and I stepped into the ring of debate. I’d finally had enough and had decided it was time for me to open my mouth. 

“I’m a practicing Jew”, I boldly announced. “And, I’ve had some pretty interesting spiritual encounters.  These experiences have been life altering. I’m not saying I’m some sort of self proclaimed psychic, or medium.  I’m just a regular person who like many of you here and so many others, has had some incredible spiritually transformative experiences. And yes, as you all know I have a passion for researching the departing visions of the dying. Yes, the inaccuracies and behavior of some well-known Hollywood mediums are making the job of educating the public and medical community about deathbed visions and related experience more difficult. These ‘Hollywood’ mediums do not act with humble graciousness. They instead rip grieving people open before millions of television viewers. While acting as experts in the ‘unknown’ they appear intoxicated with their own perception of self importance. And yes, these self proclaimed experts in the unknown often look ridiculous and religious people typically keep their experiences to themselves because they don’t want to be associated with them. 

“But as I said, as a religious person, I’m not alone. Several Rabbis I know, along with a few Catholics, Baptists, Buddhists, Muslims and even atheists, have shared with me incredible spiritually transformative encounters. So, when you say, ‘Give all clergy and religious believers a good kick in the rump and wave good-bye’ you are asking me to abandon friends, relatives and fellow seekers, who use religion as a means to discovering true spirituality.  Along with this, you are insisting that I cut ties with clergy who work diligently at encouraging their congregants to have an open mind about such matters. You guys are sounding a bit intolerant.” 

After my soap box speech, most in the anti-religion camp nodded in agreement and said, “You know, you’ve got a point there.”

Insisting on extremism, total rejection of religion and the clergy is not fair to those of us who use religion as it was intended, as a guide to a greater reality.  Yes, there are many individuals who use religion inappropriately, just as there are those who swing extremely in the other direction, rejecting all forms of religion.  News flash – neither side is right! Sometime ago, I wrote a book on religious extremism and the behaviors behind the intense rejection of religion.  The manuscript focused on examining the damage extreme thinking in any form can create, be it religion or religion bashing.  Interestingly, though I have authored numerous books, I couldn’t get a publisher to look at this piece. I found this fact in and of itself most interesting. In spite of this, I did go ahead and include a chapter on religious extremism within the text of one of my later published works. Along with this, I addressed how religion is supposed to offer humankind several things and this is what I presented to my dinner companions that night.

Why is religion important? The answers are very simple.

1. Religion provides a path for beginning exploration into spirituality – something to “start” with.

2. Religion provides a place for us to return to when our initial visits to the unseen become too overwhelming for us – the security of a starting foundation.

In other words, religion is man-made, a means to an end, that end being the doorway to the exploration of a greater reality. Many individuals have found this doorway through religion. I’m one of those people.  I first read about deathbed visions in a book written by a rabbi. This began my own personal spiritual journey.  By explaining to me what science could not, my religion gave me a “starting” point or foundation for future experiences and exploration. In presenting deathbed vision accounts, which were centuries old, this particular rabbi unknowingly clarified for me my own encounters with the afterlife.  No one, till that moment, had ever adequately provided me with accounts or experiences of a similar nature.

For the last several decades, I’ve investigated such visions and have sifted through over 2,000 firsthand accounts. Regularly, I discuss and educate clergy with regard to deathbed visions and they are happy to receive the information.  Most clergy find themselves at the bedsides of dying congregants and have encountered the departing vision. Unfortunately most haven’t been schooled in how to approach such an experience.

If anti-religion folk would take the time to open their minds and talk to religious people who have communed with deceased loved ones, or who have experienced premonitions of things to come, or seen an afterlife reality by way of a near death encounter, death bed vision, after death communication or out of body experience, maybe they would not find it necessary to totally dismiss the benefits religion can provide.

I’m grateful I can recognize what my religion provides for me.  Because I was able to disentangle my own difficult history with religion, from the true purpose of religion, I know today that religion is not spirituality – religion is not the end. Religion in any form is the beginning and a religious path can eventually lead one to a true spiritual path.

A Texas State Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Carla Wills-Brandon has published 12 books, one of which was a “Publishers Weekly Best Seller.” Her most recent book, “Beyond the Chase: Breaking Your Obsessions That Sabotage True Intimacy” is proving to be a great success. She has also lectured across the U.S. and U.K., and has appeared on numerous national radio and television programs, such as Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jesse Raphael, Montel Williams, Art Bell’s Coast To Coast Radio Show, Uri Geller’s Coast To Coast Radio Show and Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher.

Carla has also been investigating spirituality and other related phenomenon for over a decade and two of her books, “One Last Hug Before I Go” and “A Glimpse of Heaven” discuss this in depth. She is considered to be one of the leading researchers into deathbed visions. In her private practice, grief work, lectures and workshops she teaches people how to integrate these unusual encounters into everyday living.  For more information visit www.carlawillsbrandon.com

Seeing is Believing! My Personal Experience With the Spirit World


“A skeptic is a person who would ask God for his ID card.” [1]
Edgar A. Shoaff (1904–1993), Writer, Satirist, Humorist

Hard core scientists continue to tell us we are nothing more than firing brain cells, genetics, hormones and a product of evolution. Weekly, I come across studies authored by materialistic researchers attempting to prove encounters with the spirit world are only the result of our biological chemistry or psychological difficulties. As a seasoned mental healthcare provider and experiencer of the spirit world I don’t believe such narrow minded presentation of information is ever in humanity’s best interest.

In 1997, I spent time in the home of famed near death experience researcher and bestselling author Dr. Raymond Moody. During my visit, I made visual contact with all of my deceased loved ones who had passed on to the next dimension. When they came to me, they did so as orbs of brilliant bluish, white light.

I accomplished this with the help of an ancient technique called “mirror gazing”. In ancient Greece, reflective objects or surfaces, such as mirrors, fresh water springs, still pools of water and bowls of liquid were considered gateways to the spiritual world. I’d been invited by the famed researcher to join a team of other investigators to explore the early practice of mirror gazing using a “psychomanteum”. Moody’s psychomanteums were blacked out rooms containing one, large mirror.

Below is my incredible experience with the psychomanteum. The account comes from my book, A Glimpse of Heaven: The Remarkable World of Spiritually Transformative Experiences, Guildford, Surrey United Kingdom, White Crow, (2004).

What can I learn from this?

I met (Raymond) Moody in the early 1990s, right at the height of his involvement with the psychomanteum. He invited me to come to his home to investigate current-day mirror-gazing practices. Though I was extremely skeptical and did not have a great deal of faith in this ancient device, I decided to take Moody up on his offer. The following is a letter I wrote to a friend of mine, just days after my return home….

“Though words can never fully describe my experience, I will try to explain to you what I encountered. When I arrived at Moody’s, I immediately learned that on the previous night a professional woman, who had recently lost her husband, had had on interesting experience in the psychomanteum. She had made contact with her father, who had passed thirty years ago, and saw him in solid form. He told her to quit worrying about her husband, that he was just fine. Even after hearing her riveting account, I had decided I wasn’t going to be having any profound experiences that weekend.

“Three psychomanteums were set up around Moody’s very eccentric, 100-year-old house, Within these devices, one of which had been built into the house, the walls are completely black. Along with this, there is a mirror hanging on the wall at one end, while at the other, facing the mirror, is a chair. That’s it!

“During the first day of my visit, I spent about thirty minutes in two of the psychomanteums. Seated comfortably, I reflected on my relationships with those loved ones of mine who had passed, and as I had predicted, nothing out of the ordinary happened. From a historical perspective I found the psychomanteums interesting, but eventually decided enough was enough and spent the rest of the day chatting with other guests.

“That evening, I enjoyed a light supper with the rest of Moody’s visitors and had a delightful time talking with Dianne Arcangel, who has spent years researching both ancient and modern-day Psychomanteums.

“While eating dessert, I suddenly had a strong desire to put my plate down and go upstairs to the third psychomanteum. I had not been in this one. What was funny about this sudden “urge” was that during dinner, I made fun of this particular Psychomanteum. A rather obsessive engineer had built it.
“So, up the stairs I trudged, like a woman on a mission.
“Into the black box I went and sat down. Within just a few minutes of mirror gazing (just looking into a plain old mirror hanging on a wall, about four feet away) a mist, clouds, or blue-gray “something” started pouring out of the mirror. A swirl of mist touched me on my right wrist and I became frightened. At this point, Dianne Arcangel happened to be walking by, heard me gasp, and asked if she could help me. I responded with, “I’m glad you are there (just outside the psychomanteum) because it’s getting weird in here. I don’t know who’s visiting, but there are many, and I’m feeling very overwhelmed!” Something intuitively told me I was encountering many visitors from the other side. Dianne asked me if I wanted to continue. Hearing her voice calmed me down, and I said yes.

“After she left, I began saying to myself, “What can I learn from this?” over and over again. This mantra kept me grounded. Within moments, it was happening again. This time, the mirror first became black in color and then light. After this, white light tinged in blue started sprinkling down upon me. I wasn’t scared, and I could even hear Moody talking on the telephone in the next room. Then the sprinkle of light turned into balls of light. These balls of light started to get bigger, and it looked like they were trying to take form. One began to toke the shape of a head, and I thought to myself, “l wonder if that is my grandmother?”

“The next part of the experience is still hard to talk about. I get very emotional. One of these bluish-white orbs, not very large in size, hit me on my left side, near my heart area. Though it felt like a light push, it literally took my breath away. It was as if the light had gone through me. With this, I suddenly felt very peaceful, joyous, calm, and intensely loved. I also noticed the temperature in the psychomanteum was suddenly cooler.

“Then I saw more light around me and I was inundated with unlimited unconditional love. Because it felt as though things were happening rather quickly, I sensed urgency for contact from whoever was reaching out to me. With this awareness, very thin etheric streams of whirling white energy come toward my left side, touching my left arm, as if in on embrace. From this soft, cool touch, I felt pure amazement and joy.

“I will never know what would have happened next because one of Moody’s more aggressive visitors suddenly burst in and told me he wanted to try this psychomanteum. With this intrusion, the swirling, loving light immediately disappeared. For a moment, I just sat there stunned. Then, in a state of aw, love, confusion, grief, and numbness, I got out of the psychomanteum and started to talk to the other guest about my experience, but then silenced myself.

Outside the room, I once again found Dianne Arcangel. After seeing the look on my face, she led me to on outride porch where I began to cry. The encounter had overwhelmed me and I now found myself missing the loving touch I had received from the cool, swirling whitish-blue light.

“Out of a group of approximately ten or so participants, I was one of two who experienced a reunion. My rational mind wants to explain the experience away, but it can’t. I saw with my eyes and tactilely felt something beyond this physical plane of existence. During the encounter my intuition was certain, unshakable. The over pouring of gray misty clouds that initially floated toward me, the whitish-blue bolls or orbs of soft, love energy and light that entered me’ the unexpected drop in temperature inside the psychomanteum, and the streams of pure white, swirling thin light, energy that came toward me, encircling me, cannot be explained away. I am changed forever.

“When I have shared this dramatic experience with skeptics, I am met with a number of questions such as, “Had you been drinking?” “Were you on drugs?” “Was the mirror rigged?” “Who was flashing a flashlight at you?” and “Were you psychologically stressed at the time?”

“l don’t drink, nor do I do drugs, and I’m boringly sane” is the response I typically begin with. Having examined the mirrors hanging in the Psychomanteum, I can attest to the fact that there were no secret lights or hidden panels contained within them. They were typical mirrors.” [2]

For years I didn’t speak openly about this account and for good reason. In Raymond Moody’s book, Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife (2012), he talks about how his father, a well respected physician had him committed to a mental hospital for psychiatric issues. This occurred shortly after he had talked to his father about his work with the psychomanteum. The conversation obviously didn’t sit well with the older physician. Moody admitted he had mood swings but added these were later attributed to a thyroid condition, not his work with mirror gazing in a psychomanteum.

Being a visible self-help author I too was scared of being ridiculed. The concern was very real and based on past experience. When I spoke openly about the departing visions me and my family had encountered when my father-in-law had passed, a newspaper misconstrued my words and called me a New Age nut! Along with this several skeptics tracked down my home phone number and were telephoning in the middle of the night. A few other naysayers emailed me continuously and chastised me for leading the grieving astray by talking about afterlife encounters. Concerned for my family, I became more private about my experiences for several years. Eventually was able to throw caution to the wind and go public again in 2004.

Though I was cautious about talking openly about what I saw and felt in Moody’s psychomanteum, I also knew my experiences weren’t unique. As a matter of fact, this meeting with departed loved ones prepared me for similar experiences to come.

If you have had a near death experience, after death communication, departing vision, premonition of things to come, visions of the afterlife or visitations from deceased loved ones, please know you can always contact me for more information. You are not alone.

1 – Brainy Quote, Web.

2 – Wills-Brandon, Carla. A Glimpse of Heaven: The Remarkable World of Spiritually Transformative Experiences. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2004. 77-81.
Carla Wills-Brandon, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is also the author of 13 published books discussing topics ranging from;
• Food disorders
• Addiction
• Holistic Health
• Relationships
• Dealing with teens, children of trauma, addiction
• Healthy intimacy and sexuality
• Sexual healing
• Trauma resolution and PTSD
• Recovery from grief, loss and death,
• Afterlife research and spirituality
• The Departing Visions of the dying

One of her published books,

Learning to Say No: Establishing Healthy Boundaries was a “Publishers Weekly Best Seller. The author has lectured across the U.S. and U.K., and has appeared on numerous national radio and television programs, such as Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jesse Raphael, Montel Williams, Coast To Coast Radio Show with Art Bell and George Noory, Uri Geller’s Coast To Coast Radio Show and Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher. Wills-Brandon has also appeared on several programs with her husband, Licensed Clinical Psychologist Michael Brandon, PhD.

A Glimpse Heaven is published by White Crow Books and is available from Amazon and other online bookstores.

Not a New Phenomenon? Famous Departing Visions Throughout History


Maybe you’ve had a departing vision or witnessed someone you love talking to invisible visitors as death drew near. If so, you might be asking yourself, “What was this strange, yet profound experience? Have other people had encounters like this? Am I the only one and if not, why haven’t I ever heard about such things?”

Years ago a client told me how his father, after being in a comatose state, had an unusual pre-death encounter. As the family sat by the bedside, the once nonresponsive gentleman suddenly became very lucid, looked up toward the ceiling of the hospital room, raised his arms and with a delightful smile on his face called out to his deceased wife. Within minutes after this he died peacefully. Was this man alone in his experience? Believe it or not, the answer is no. Read the following and see what you think.

Waiting at the window

A seventy-year-old patient had seen her deceased husband several times and then she predicted her own death. She said that her husband had appeared in the window and motioned to her to come out of the house. The reason for his visits was to have her join him. Her daughter and other relatives were present when she predicted her death, laid out her burial clothes. Laid down in bed for a nap and died about an hour later. She seemed calm, resigned to death and, in fact, wanted to die. Before she saw her husband she didn’t speak about imminent death. Her doctor was so surprised by her sudden death, for which there was no sufficient medical reasons, that he checked if she had poisoned herself. He found neither signs of poisoning nor any such drugs in the house. [1]

Both of the above other worldly reports are called departing visions. Maybe you’ve had such a glimpse of the afterlife or witnessed someone you love talking to invisible visitors as death drew near. If so, you might be asking yourself, “What was this strange, yet profound experience? Have other people had encounters like this? Am I the only one and if not, why haven’t I ever heard about such things?”

Famous departing visions

I love enlightening people with the otherworldly premonitions experienced by well know individuals. These reports give everyday experiencers like me permission to embrace our own departing visions. Here are several accounts from some very famous people.

A Pope is visited

The controversial Alexander VI (1431–1503) was pope from 1492 until his death in 1503. His birth name was Roderic Llançol I Borja, and he was quite the character.

Borja lived the wild life before and while he was pope. Aside from having a family previous to becoming the most powerful religious leader of his time, he had a number of very colorful mistresses while in the papacy. Murder, thievery, obscene banquets, prostitution, drunkenness, incest and rape were all part of his legacy. Because the family Borja had such an interesting history, Hollywood turned the murdering dynasty into a television series. Called “The Borgias,” the program has popularized the debauchery and criminal activity recorded in the lives of Alexander VI and his dysfunctional family.

As was his life, death for this pope was also full of drama. Borja became ill with fever after dining with one of his cardinals. The theory is he was poisoned. One would think such a villain would never make it to the afterlife, but his last words have been reported as;

Ok, ok, I’ll come. Just give it a moment. (Va bene, va bene, arrivo. Aspettate un momento.) [2]

Who was he talking to? Was he being visited by deceased relatives, friends or perhaps a forgiving mistress from the other side? We will never know.

A beloved composer has a departing vision

Can you imagine composing a musical piece on your deathbed? This is just what Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) did. To this day, his classical works are played at most of the weddings I attend, but what gave him the spiritual strength to compose as he lay dying? Visually blind, suffering respiratory complications and afflicted with several strokes, this beloved musical genius was able to compose on his deathbed, Before Thy Throne I Now Approach.

During the hours just before his passing, he supposedly regained his vision. Because of this he was able to finish his composition. Another theory is that he was;
…seeing the unseen as often occurs in the last days of life. [3]

Extraordinary presidential departing visions

John Adams (1735-1826) was not only the second president of the United States, but in 1776 he was a leading supporter and defender of America’s independence from Britain. Interestingly, he died on the Fourth of July in 1826.
On the day of his passing, as he lay on his deathbed bed he said;

Oh, yes; it is the glorious Fourth of July. It is a great day. It is a good day. God bless it. God bless you all. [4]

He then lapsed into unconsciousness. Later, he awoke and mumbled;

Thomas Jefferson still survives! [5]

After this Adams left this life for the world to come.

As he was preparing to leave his physical body behind, there is no way he would have known about Jefferson’s death. His onetime political rival and good friend passed in a different location, just a few hours earlier on that same 4th of July day in 1826. While Adams was dying did his good friend Jefferson come for him?

One final note on Adams and Jefferson. Both of these men defended our freedoms and were our first presidents. I find it interesting that they both left this life for the afterlife, within hours of each other on the same day, exactly fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

A gifted pianist loses his fear of death

Frederic François Chopin (1810–1849), the famous Polish composer and extraordinary classical pianist is often referred to as the Poet of the Piano, but how many of us know he was terrified of being buried alive?

The gifted musician was ill for many years of his life and death was always just around the corner. When his passing was imminent Chopin’s sister rushed to his bedside. Just after midnight on October 17th, 1849, the composer awoke from a deep sleep. His physician then leaned over him and asked if he was suffering or in pain. Chopin replied, “Not anymore.” [6] After struggling for years with an overwhelming fear of death, the famous pianist finally died in the arms of his loving sister. He was only thirty-nine years old.

Did this best-loved composer who worried incessantly about being buried alive somehow come to terms with his passing? Maybe he had a departing vision or caught a quick look at what life without a physical body would be like. Was it this sense of reassurance that relieved him of his pain and allowed him to move on to the great celestial orchestra in the sky?

At Chopin’s request, his heart was preserved in alcohol after his death and has been kept in his homeland in a sealed jar inside a pillar at Warsaw’s Holy Cross Church. The pillar was dedicated to Chopin and when I last visited this church I noticed flowers continue to be placed here in honor of the musician.

Premonitions of a death

The handsome and charismatic John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917–1963) was the 35th president of the United States of America. He was also the youngest man ever elected to that office. Though he was “easy on the eyes” and a political force to be reckoned with, this isn’t his only claim to fame. The dashing and controversial Kennedy was the youngest President to ever to die in office. On November 22nd, 1963, an assassin’s bullets killed him as his motorcade made its way through the streets of Dallas, Texas.

Most people don’t know that the young president had a departing vision. On his arrival in Dallas he said to special assistant Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.;

If someone is going to kill me, they will kill me. [7]

What a powerful, prophetic statement. President Kennedy had this premonition, just hours before his violent assassination.

Prime Minister of India has a spiritual forewarning

Indira Gandhi (1917–1984) was an incredibly strong and dominant figure in India for almost two decades. She was also Prime Minister on four different occasions.

A political genius, Gandhi started a family planning program, addressed food shortages, and authorized the development of nuclear weapons in 1967. Sadly this little powerhouse of a woman was assassinated by her own bodyguards.

Sikh militants fired thirty-three bullets into her chest and abdomen, killing her at her own residence.

The night before her assassination Indira Gandhi said the following;

I don’t mind if my life goes in the service of the nation. If I die today every drop of my blood will invigorate the nation. [8]

Like President Kennedy’s departing vision, we have one more famous political leader predicting her upcoming assassination just hours before the deadly shots are fired.

Death is the great equalizer

It’s often been said that death is the great equalizer. No matter what the size of our bank account or our position in society, all of us are going to eventually die the physical death. Sadly, our culture does little to prepare us for this great event. Many medical personnel, mental healthcare providers, educators and clergy are death phobic, so they are of little help.

Thankfully the departing vision is also a great equalizer. Examples of this spiritual event have been documented throughout history and can be found in all major religions. Visitations from deceased loved ones, angels or religious icons occur in all cultures and these experiences are incredibly similar to one another. Whether it’s a U.S. president born in the 1700s, a 18th century Jewish religious leader, a politician in India born in the early 1900s or my dear friend who just passed a year ago, a deceased loved one is always there to gently escort us to the afterlife.

A personal goodbye

Understanding the nature of the departing vision definitely lessens grief. As I end this chapter, a relative of mine is physically dying in England. Due to a series of very unfortunate events, he has been seriously ill for the last few years. Several days ago he decided enough was enough and this dear man stopped eating and drinking. Currently, he is also having fantastic departing visions.

His wife made her way to the afterlife shortly after his illness set in. The feisty blond with the thick northern accent was his soul mate, and loved by all. During her visits to the states she would lather herself in suntan lotion and “bake” for hours in a lounge chair. This British cousin loved our sunshine.

When she died suddenly, her husband was devastated. We didn’t know if he would survive the loss. For a short period of time he has remained, but now it’s time for him to go too.
As this relative prepares to pass he is having visions of his devoted wife. She has come to escort him to the other side. The family isn’t frightened by these visitations. They are comforted when he calls out to her. Soon he will escape his paralyzed body, and then husband and wife will have a glorious reunion.

So, peace be with you two. Be sure to stop by Disneyland before you take off for the heavens. Someday we will meet again.

1- Osis, Karlis, At The Hour of Death, New York, NY, Avon Books, 1977 pg 4
2- Last Words Quotations (Note, Died, Leave, Dying) @ Gratifying.net. Web.
3- Johann Sebastian Bach’s Strokes. Acta Clinica Croatica (Sisters of Charity Hospital), 2006. 1. Web.
4- Last Words Quotations (Note, Died, Leave, Dying) @ Gratifying.net. Web.
5- Ibid
6- Tran, Anh. Chopin, the Poet of the Piano. Web.
7- 10 Famous Last Words of Famous People. Web.
8- Finley, L. Blake, and Brummund. Ruth, Indira Gandhi: Universal Woman of Courage, Compassion, and Social Justice. Web.

A Texas State Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Carla Wills-Brandon has published 12 books, one of which was a “Publishers Weekly Best Seller.” She has also lectured across the U.S. and U.K., and has appeared on numerous national radio and television programs, such as Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jesse Raphael, Montel Williams, Art Bell’s Coast To Coast Radio Show, Uri Geller’s Coast To Coast Radio Show and Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher.

Carla has also been investigating spirituality and other related phenomenon for over a decade and three of her books, Heavenly Hugs: Comfort, Support, and Hope From the Afterlife “One Last Hug Before I Go” and “A Glimpse of Heaven” discuss this in depth. She is considered to be one of the leading researchers into deathbed visions. In her private practice, grief work, lectures and workshops she teaches people how to integrate these unusual encounters into everyday living. For more information visit http://www.carlawillsbrandon.com

Sleeping Your Way into the Next Dimension: Looking at Your Dreams


The “experts” have been arguing about the purpose of dreams for centuries. There are those scientists who believe dreams are random, senseless physiological experi¬ences, which are nothing more than a by-product of the brain stem. Mental healthcare professionals, such as the father of psychiatry, Sigmund Freud, often see all dreams as having some deep psychological meaning. Some mental health caregivers will spend several therapy sessions with a client dissecting one particular dream.

Then there are the self-proclaimed dream interpreters. Modern-day dream mystics often assume the symbolism found in our sleepy time visions has just one or two interpretations. Each one of these so-called dream experts will put their own spin on what a particular symbol might mean. In the majority of cases, these individuals aren’t medical or mental healthcare professionals, but instead advertise themselves as professional dream coun¬selors, psychics, spiritual advisors, dream coaches, sleep technicians, and even regression therapists. The business of dream interpretation is big money, and a 45-minute session can cost as much as $150 to $500.

What might I get for my hard-earned cash? If I’ve had a dream about my teeth falling out, one interpreter might tell me I’m anxious about something. Another dream counselor could say my anxiety is about how I look. A third would tell me my dream is a warning about making costly mistakes. If I happen to be going through menopause, dreaming about my teeth falling out might mean I’m fearful of getting older. To be honest, the only time I’ve ever had a dream about my teeth was after a root canal!

I do believe our dreams keep us healthy. Dreamtime helps us process the stresses of the day. For most of my professional life, I’ve worked with trauma survivors, and I’ve noted that feelings related to unaddressed tragedy or loss will often appear in dreams. This is not unusual.

When I first started assisting clients suffering from trauma, I read a lot of books on dreams. In frustration, I ended up throwing most of them out. Too many of the authors thought they were better at interpreting my dreams than I was. Secondly, their explanations rarely fit for any of my clients. I finally realized these amateur interpretations were often based on the personal experi¬ences, philosophies, and even religion of the dream coun¬selors who wrote the books. With this new awareness, I came up with my own guidelines for understanding dreams.

It’s essential to know we are the best source for interpreting our own dreams. Symbolism found in my dreams will be different from yours. For example, I live on the Gulf Coast, so if I’m dreaming about hurricanes, it could be related to the large storm that dumped 10 feet of water into my house a few years ago. Now, if you dream about hurricanes (and don’t live in storm country), this might mean you have some emotional turmoil going on. In such cases it’s useful to write nighttime visions out on paper. Then, for each line of the written-out dream, go back and assign meaning as it relates to you.

Secondly, dreams help us work out our daily stress. Every once in a while I dream about flunking out of college. I’ve got years of post-college graduate work behind me and several degrees under my belt—obviously my dream isn’t a literal premonition of things to come. For me personally, this sort of dream is a warning from my own subconscious that I’ve got too much stress in my life and I need to slow down. If my youngest son has dreams about flunking out of college, his experience is based in reality because he is in college! Dream symbolism will be different for each of us.

Also, as mentioned earlier, there are those dreams related to serious distress and upset. As a child I experi¬enced a great deal of trauma and loss. For about a decade I had reoccurring nightmares related to my own tragic childhood history. I would wake up from these nightmares scared and sweating profusely. Once awake it would take me a moment to realize I was no longer living in my past trauma. It was important for me to do the healing work necessary to relieve myself of these recurring nightmares.

Trauma can include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, war, witnessing violence, or experiencing tragic loss or any other post-traumatic stress–inducing experi¬ences. When we do the work to heal our traumatic encounters, our nightmares begin to dissipate. (For more information on this, read my book Learning to Say No: Establishing Healthy Boundaries.)

Children often experience recurring nightmares. These can be connected to trauma, but more often than not it’s just stress. Such dreams are more likely about the trials of growing up and having new, challenging life experiences.

Finally, we have dreamtime encounters that are related to spiritual contact from the other side. Skeptics tell us any dreams we have about the afterlife are related to grief, loss, and wishful thinking about a life after death. Some of our dreams about death are related to loss, and we can’t ignore this. They are similar to stress or even trauma dreams. Then there are those dreamtime experiences that involve after¬life contact. Let’s look at a dream visitation experience I had with my grandmother.

My grandmother Bertha was a tall, statuesque woman with shocking white hair piled high on her head. The daughter of immigrants from Russia, she had heard tales from her older sister and parents about relatives who had starved to death or were murdered by the Bolsheviks in the old country. In response to this, she worked hard at being an Amer¬ican and would decorate the house for every holiday celebrated in the United States. It wasn’t uncommon for me to walk into her kitchen on Valentine’s Day and find her baking fragrant Russian delicacies along with homemade heart-shaped sugar cookies!

When my mother died, I went to live with my grandparents. She taught me how to sew and put on lipstick, and every week we visited the local drug store for banana splits. She stepped right into my mother’s shoes. My grandmother passed when I was in my early 40s, so she had been part of my life for many years. Grief struck, and I made one Russian pie after another. During this time my poor family prayed for tacos, or a nice lasagna!

One night I had an incredible dream about my grandmother. In the dream I found myself in her very American kitchen. All of the colors were brilliant. Even the flowers growing just outside the window were incredible. The colors were so intense. Sitting at the kitchen table I was mourning the loss of my grandmother, when suddenly, in she walks.

In the dream, she was wearing a straight, shim¬mering purple number with long, graceful fitted sleeves. I can still hear the click of her purple high-heeled shoes as she walked up to me, pulled me out of my seat, shook me by my shoulders, and said, “Enough of this already.”

My grandmother sternly reminded me that I had two young sons to take care of and that I didn’t need to still be grieving for her. She told me she was just fine. After that she turned around and left me standing in the middle of her kitchen with my mouth wide open! When I woke up I felt energized and knew my grieving time was over. I got back into my life and emotionally returned to my husband and boys. In my soul I knew my grandmother had come to me to set me straight!

Dreams involving afterlife contact leave us with feel¬ings that are difficult to ignore. The following is a wonder¬ful departing vision in the form of a dream.

I have a story to share that occurred with the passing of my grandmother. According to the doc¬tors, she died around 3 a.m. That night I dreamed of her passing. I dreamt that I was driving home and passing by her house late at night when I had to stop to allow a funeral procession to pass in front of me. Interestingly my cousin said that she too woke up at 3 a.m. that night and stared at the clock.

In this account we see how two family members in different locations woke up at the moment of the grand¬mother’s passing! When we’ve had an afterlife contact experience in a dream we know we’ve been touched by something special; it doesn’t feel like a regular dream. Instead, we are left with a sense that life after death is real and our departed loved ones are still there for us.

Departing visions in dream form can also prepare us for a physical passing. Though this is the most common form of the departing vision, it is also the easiest for the skeptics to dismiss. The following example from a Jewish family really drives this notion home!

In late December of 1978, my mother told me about a strange dream she recently had. It seems that in her dream, someone was knocking on our front door and trying to get in. According to my mother, she and I were trying to hold the door so the person would not get in. She was, quite frankly, terrified because the person at the door had come for my father.

Well, as fate would have it, he suddenly passed away (at age 60) only a few days later. So, I guess that was sort of a “portent of fate.”

I feel for the poor woman who had this dream. She was totally unprepared for the experience. Every once in a while a departing vision in dream form can be a frightening experience. None of us wants to suddenly lose someone we love. The husband passed away without warning, which suggests the family wasn’t expecting his death to come anytime soon. After grieving the loss of a loved one it is easier to see the departing vision as a gift, proving physical death is not the end. With such awareness grief is softened. Hopefully this has happened for to family above.

As we have seen, not all of our dreams are related to physiology or our emotional state. Our dreamtime departing visions can be about our own upcoming passing or the transition of someone we love and care about. They can also be about visitations from those who have already crossed over to the other side. Finally we can have dream time departing visions before or during a large scale war or a massive disaster. We can also have visitations from those killed in these situations after the event has occurred.

Dreams of this nature affect us spiritually for the rest of our lives. When we experience such dreamtime visitations we often awake from a deep sleep feeling confident that there is more to our existence than just this life.

Staying true to ourselves after a departing vision or after death communication can be difficult. As society’s values impede upon our reality we may find ourselves questioning our afterlife contact. If you have a departing vision dream, write it down and date it. By reliving every detail of the experience, you will again be reminded that what you encountered was truly spiritual in nature.

A Texas State Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Carla Wills-Brandon has published 12 books, one of which was a “Publishers Weekly Best Seller.” She has also lectured across the U.S. and U.K., and has appeared on numerous national radio and television programs, such as Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jesse Raphael, Montel Williams, Art Bell’s Coast To Coast Radio Show, Uri Geller’s Coast To Coast Radio Show and Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher.
Carla has also been investigating spirituality and other related phenomenon for over a decade and three of her books, Heavenly Hugs: Comfort, Support, and Hope From the Afterlife “One Last Hug Before I Go” and “A Glimpse of Heaven” discuss this in depth. She is considered to be one of the leading researchers into deathbed visions. In her private practice, grief work, lectures and workshops she teaches people how to integrate these unusual encounters into everyday living. For more information visit http://www.carlawillsbrandon.com

i>A Glimpse Heaven is published by White Crow Books and is available from Amazon and other online bookstores.