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,, Inc. 07/24/2012.
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.

About Carla Wills Brandon

Carla has published 13 books, one of which was a "Publishers Weekly Best Seller." Her most recent books, "One Last Hug Before I Go: The Mystery and Meaning of Deathbed Visions," “Heavenly Hugs: Comfort, Support, and Hope From the Afterlife," and "A Glimpse of Heaven: The Remarkable World of Spiritually Transformative Experiences," are all proving to be a great success, proving physical death is not the end.. 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. Recently she returned from Italy where she presented her research on the Departing Visions of the dying and those who love them, proving these experiences are universal and not bound by culture. Also considered a clinical relationship and trauma expert, many of her media appearances have been dedicated to discussing healthy intimacy, recovery from sexual abuse and trauma resolution. She has also appeared on several programs with her husband Michael, as the two clinicians often see couples in their private practice as a couple.

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