Interview between Carla Wills- Brandon, Ph.D. and Paranormalnews.com
Written By: Lisa Marie Storm - Reporter
Reporter for Paranormalnews.com
Carla Wills-Brandon, Ph.D., is the author of nine books, including Publishers Weekly bestseller One Last Hug Before I Go. A member of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, she has investigated STE (Spiritually Transformational Experiences) and other related phenomena for more than a decade. Dr. Wills-Brandon lives in Galveston Island, TX.
This interview was prompted by her newest book, A Glimpse Of Heaven , a must read for those seeking to understand their own spiritually transformative experience, and for folks puzzled by the claims of friends, family and others who seem hesitant to talk about these fascinating events in their lives. This book explores Near-death experiences, Deathbed visions of those passing over, Premonitions of disaster, living with STE every day. This book is complete with STE Educational Resource Organizations addresses, phone numbers and web sites.
Thank you so much for agreeing to Interview with me Carla. In reading your latest book mentioned above, I found it to be fascinating that you had letters of accounts from people associated with the Titanic, the 9-11 catastrophe and Jack Lemmon just to name a few.
LMS: Can you tell us how you came to gather all these letters of experiences from others?
For this latest book, I had received hundreds and hundreds of accounts from my last book, One Last Hug. They came to me in email, written letters, telephone conversations, and first hand interviews. The response was overwhelming.
LMS: I am not clear on what it is you were doing professionally while writing this book, could you elaborate on that for us?
I was apart of the Recovery Movement in the 1980s. I lectured with John Bradshaw and others like him around the country and across the United Kingdom. My first five books addressed trauma, family of origin dysfunction and addiction. I e been in private clinical practice as a Liscensed Marriage and Family Therapist for 20 years. Investigating the departing visions of the dying has always been the Ying to the daily Yang I see in my office. Because I work with trauma, I naturally encounter a great deal of death. With death come the unusual paranormal experiences. My own ventures into the unseen have aided me for years in validating those who I work with. My last two books discuss this in depth.
LMS: How did you come to work with or council people that were grieving the loss of loved ones?
I e been working with the grieving for 20 years. My husband and I worked Flight Medicine when the space shuttle Challenger blew up. Grief work is one of my specialties and several of my earlier books deal with this issue. My mother died when I was just 16 and with her passing, I had a departing vision. The two do go hand in hand. People in our country are not given permission to grieve. My job has been to rectify this. People in our society are also not given permission to talk about their departing visions, after death communications and similar experiences. My job has been to educate and validate with regard to this issue.
LMS: Are there other areas of your profession that you would like to share?
I e done a lot of television and radio work, educating about everything from incest and addiction to grief and the paranormal. This isn my favorite avenue of the book business, but it is a good tool for teaching. Lecturing was much more common in the 80s. I traveled extensively, but when my second child was born, I had to make a choice, be gone, miss my children growing up, not being there for them, or pulling back professionally and achieving balance. My youngest came to the office (an office which is 100 years old the house that is, and full of spirits) for the first 5 years of his life. I e never regretted this decision.
LMS: In your book you explain at length your own personal experiences and trials as well as tribulations. What year or approximately how long ago did your own premonitions and visions begin?
My first departing vision happened at the age of 16. At that time, I had no one to talk to about it. As time moved on, I began having a lot of other visitations, experiences which involved seeing with my own eyes, hear, and feeling. It was essential for me to seek out support but initially this was very difficult. Today, there is more support for folks who have encounters of this nature. Most of my patients who have had such experiences often have never talked openly about this. I typically the first person they share with. This needs to change.
LMS: The point of your book other than giving the reader accounts that have happened to others is to provide assistance and guidance as well as information to those inquiring as to what they may be going through as well as giving them resources with which to turn to for assistance, can they contact you directly if they have questions?
Yes, I would love to hear from anyone who has had a paranormal experience. [email protected] or they can snail mail me. In the back of my latest book, I have lists and lists of resources for experiencers and seekers to utilize.
LMS: I noticed that you refer to ancient history, doctrines and texts to support yours and others findings with regard to STE’s and DBV’s. I am curious, what ancient sites have you visited in your lifetime?
I have made it a point to visit most of the sacred sites in the United Kingdom. My all time favorite has been Roslyn Chapel, right outside Edinburgh. Knights of Templar, a mystical order of knights with a rich Middle Age history, are buried under the chapel. Of course there is the Tor, Stonehenge, and the circle stones, located all over the UK. Recently I escorted my husband’s aunt back to Auschwitz. She’s a survivor of the Holocaust. Standing where thousands had been gassed by the Nazis, included relatives of my husband’s was one of the most emotionally charged, overwhelming experiences of my life. Where I live, Galveston Island has incredible history. The 1900 storm killed 9000 people here. Taos, New Mexico, parts of Italy, numerous East Block countries, where ever there is any sort of history, humanity at its best or worst, one will find a sense of spirituality. Me, I check them all out.
LMS: What did you bring back with you from those travels that you believe to be the most profound?
I have traveled the world and seen a lot. Voo Doo in Jamaica pyramids in Mexico, ancient Roman roads in Europe, Ann Frank’s house in Holland, too many wonderful and haunting places to list. I always come home with a sense of gratitude for the experience. I am blessed to have the ability to go see what stories history has to share. Sensing the imprint of history upon geography gives me a richer understanding of the times and when I integrate these encounters into my everyday living experience, I feel more complete.
LMS: You said in your book something to the effect that faith or lack of faith was not a deciding factor with regards to life after death experiencers. Religious doctrine dictates that those not of the faith will not see life after death or will not be resurrected so there are those that would argue this point vehemently, what would you say to those that are
made very uncomfortable by this finding?
One can’t do the work that I do, see what I have seen and then support the notion that one religion, one way of thinking is the only way. That is the description of intolerance and arrogance. Many people who don’t think they are religious, spiritual people are extremely spiritual. They may not belong to any form of organized religion, follow a specific doctrine, but they are kind, good humanitarians. Yes, I have collected numerous STE accounts from individuals like this. The evidence tells me self righteous assayers are wrong.
LMS: You also talk about how children seem to straddle the veil that separates our world from the hereafter. When they become adults, oftentimes they have been numbed to the 6th sense due to factors of everyday upbringing and culture. What can a parent do that would like to nurture the natural senses of a child so that they are less likely to lose the instincts given at birth to navigate in the everyday world?
When my youngest son had a departing vision, we talked about it. Normalized it. When my oldest son had an after death communication dream about his grandfather, discussed it. He cried because it was so emotional. The contact brought up his grief. Calling such encounters the by-product of an over active imagination, an invisible friend or a reaction to a mental disorder before really investigating is a common error most parents make. Our religious institutions often seal the cap on such experiences by belittling or discounting them. My Rabbi’s son had a wonderful experience. He did what he needed to do to make sure he validated the account.
LMS: You talk about how bottled up grief can cause ill health if not worked through. What would you say to someone that says – oh, I have worked through all that, I’m fine when they cry or experience intense sadness on holidays or special days?
There are normal feelings and over feelings. This is discussed in my earlier books. Most people who continue to experience intense grieve when a departed loved ones name is mentioned, aren’t fine. Those who are “numb” feeling nothing, also may have untapped grief. A little sadness is normal but emotion in either extreme is a problem.
LMS: In your experience, is there any difference in the occurrence in frequency or infrequency of DBV’s depending on if the deaths were violent – expected – or unexpected?
No, it isn’t that predictable. I’ve tried to measure for that and have not found a relationship.
LMS: How about those that have no family members or relatives at the time of death…can you tell me if they see deceased members of family from long ago come to greet them or not?
Some see angels. Others see friends. Interesting DBVs are those involving visitation from a long lost deceased relative that the dying have never met. In one account a spouse at the bedside, upon hearing the description of the visitor from the beyond, found a photograph of the relative described. The dying man, upon seeing this said, “Yes! That’s who I saw.
LMS: Is this comforting guidance at death only for those that are expecting death that see someone intercepting them at the time of death?
Research has shown that combative patients, fearful of death, calm down and become peaceful after encounters of this nature.
LMS: In your book you talk about parallel universes and you use a favorite analogy of my own “Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist”. Like energy that was always around us even before we detected it. At present, how far has science come, to your knowledge, in providing any proof as to whether the human brain crates visionary experiences or telepathically receives them?
If you go the website for IANDs - International Association for Near Death Studys, or pick up a copy of the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, you will be bound to see that there are lots of investigations of this nature going on. Unfortunately, grant money or support from traditional science and university teaching schools is almost nil.
LMS: You also mention a well known name Dr. Kaku whom I believe came out with a convincing string and M-string theory as well as hyperspace providing for parallel universes, just to mention a few. Do you have other scientific references or texts that you believe our readers would find helpful?
For the beginner, I would suggest they start with Dr. Kaku and then move on to investigating Edgar Mitchel’s organization called IONS – Institute of Noetic Sciences.
LMS: You also say something in your book that I couldn’t have said better. You say “an STE can provide quite an awakening. With an STE, the fog of confusion is lifted. The lights are turned on, reality hits, and you have the courage to say, This is my life, I’m going to live it as I see fit”. I , for one, can attest to the validity of this. It does often times cause a total change of life or career or both. In your experience, is this a positive experience or a painful one?
A typical STE will shake you to your core. It can force you to clear away the wreckage of your past, resolved old hurts, heal relationships, own and recover from addictions, re-evaluate your religious beliefs and life priorities. The process of addressing these issues can initially be very painful, but in the long run extremely positive.
LMS: What would you say to those who vehemently do NOT believe in Life after death or STE’s or DBV’s?
Read the research. Judge the evidence and quit focusing in on the personalities responsible for the evidence. Read the black and write print and stop reading between the lines.
LMS: If someone is having STE’s or visions etc. and those in immediate family, friends, and profession would not understand – where would you recommend they turn first? If not where, then how should they approach this with others?
There are lots and lots of books out there written by reputable individuals which discuss experiences of this nature. Go to the book store and start looking a metaphysical works, both old and new. If still confused, begin contacting therapists who have clinical practices and who are experienced in addressing issues of this nature. When interviewing a therapist over the phone ask, “How do you feel about life after death contact?” Their answer will answer the question as to whether or not this is a safe person to talk to.
LMS: You had your own share of skeptics with your own relatives and family, yet many of them had their own experiences as well. Did this make sharing your experiences with family easier?
In my books, I talk about how to deal with family and skeptics. My family knows this is my passion and after a number of years, they have come to accept this. As for the skeptics, I’m powerless over what they thing. As I see it, its their loss. Their closed mindedness is a difficulty they will one day need to confront.
LMS: When putting together the resources section of your book, what types of places did you make it a point to offer?
Places which would validate experiences and seekers and offer education.
LMS: You say that all of the information, experiences and knowledge you have gleaned over the years has made your perceptions radically different than the average norm. Can you share just a small portion of how you see things with us?
I am totally responsible for every aspect of my life. If I’m unhappy with a person, place or thing, I must do something about this. I also know God doesn’t “do it” to us. We have each been given free will and we do it to ourselves each other. Arguing over religion is a total waste of time as no one religion is the “right on.” What you think about me is really not my problem. If you don’t like me because I have shared about my experiences with the afterlife, there isn’t a thing I can do about that. The secret of life is very simple and we must all figure this out for ourselves. As long as we are chasing the next “high,” ill relationship, yo-yo diet, celebrity scandal, or next level of social status, we will never discover this. Life doesn’t end with physical death. Death is nothing to fear. What we must look at is how we are living life today, in the moment, moment by moment. It is important for me to always remember that when I die, I will take “me” warts and all, to the other side, so I better do what I need to do on this side, to heal emotionally and spiritually. Finally, too many of us miss the joyous moments of life. In persuit of the almighty big buck or 15 minutes of fame, we miss out on the really important things, family, friends and community. Those today are a “first” in my life.
LMS: What has been the greatest benefit you have derived from nurturing your own STE’s?
They have taught me how to live life.
LMS: What has been the biggest negative from it?
I would have to say nothing. Even the skeptics have provided me with opportunities for grown. Every experience is a lesson.
LMS: Where do you see yourself going next in your development and what you would desire to share with others as a result of that?
Each stage of life offers a new adventure. Currently this next phase is just beginning to open up.
LMS: If you could deliver to everyone ONE message that you believe would have the most impact, what would it be?
Take responsibility for every aspect of your life.
LMS: What is the primary reason you wrote this book “A Glimpse of Heaven”?
To educate the person who is fearful of openly sharing their own STE and to validate that these encounters are real. I was not going to write another book. I wanted to take a break. But after receiving so many accounts from so many people around the world, feeling confused, fearful of sharing, not sure where to go next, I decided to put this work together. With this book I specifically wanted to provide individuals with a guide for understanding that they are not alone in their experiences. A stepping off place, with resources for them to continue the journey.
"We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed." Big Book pg 25.
Carla Wills-Brandon, Ph.D.
Michael Brandon, Ph.D.
Office: (281) 338-2992
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