Theresa Caputo: Talking to Dead People Is Weird Only if You Let it Be

"I may not be your idea of a 'typical' medium, but dead people don't care. They've been bugging me to deliver their messages since I was a child, and that's what I feel compelled and blessed to do."

Ever since she hit the airwaves on TLC’s Long Island Medium in 2011, this wife and mother of two has become a sensation among the millions of viewers who are drawn to her ability to communicate with the "Other Side." With her high hair (“The higher the hair, the closer to God!”), high pitched laugh and even higher heels, she channels those who have passed and relays their messages —sometimes serious, sometimes silly, always loving — to the friends and family they have left behind.

It’s no surprise that Caputo’s first book, There’s More to Life Than This, hit the best-sellers list. Whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, most of us are curious to know what’s out there...if there is indeed something out there. Caputo answered some of those questions for iVillage and also discussed how to look for the signs that "Spirit" (which she prefers be spelled with a capital "S"), may be trying to send you.

iVillage: For the people who may not be familiar with your job and your show, can you briefly explain your abilities?

Theresa Caputo: I have an amazing gift to be able to communicate with people that have crossed over. I realize that not everyone is going to believe what I’m about to say, but save yourself a mean email or “She’s a fraud!” blog post, because I’ve heard it all. People say I google to get your background information. That I throw out vague situations and then work off your reactions, that my ideas about the afterlife are wishful thinking. They say I read body language and take advantage of your vulnerability while grieving. And my all-time favorite, that “I’m bothering” the dead.

Let’s just pause on this last one for a minute. Why hasn’t it ever occurred to my critics that I’m not bothering the dead, but that they’re bothering me? You think I woke up one day and thought, “Ooh! I’m going to talk to dead people for the rest of my life! That’s a great career choice!?” There’s more to it than you think.

But, I didn’t write a book to prove or defend my abilities. I did this to share what I know to be true — that there’s more to life than what is in the physical world.

iVillage: In your book, you talk about how Spirit first began communicating with you at age 4, but that it took many years for you to accept your gift. What was that in the form of? And when did you first really understand that you were receiving messages from the Other Side?

TC: When I was young I just remember seeing and hearing Spirit. I didn't know at the time that I was communicating with people that had died. I first really understood I was receiving messages from the other side when I realized that what I was sensing and feeling didn't make sense to me. But when I shared it with the people around me, they understood what it all meant and and could connect with it completely.

iVillage: And who is talking to you from the Other Side?

TC: Spirit — people who have crossed over. There are lots of ways that mediums experience Spirit. A “clairvoyant,” for instance, mostly see visions, and a “clairaudient” primarily hears them. I’m “empathic,” which means I feel Spirit most and use my other senses to fill in the blanks.

For instance, a message might begin with me feeling very restricted in the throat area, which means there is a soul that would like to tell me that they passed via death connected to the throat, that they were unable to communicate prior to their passing, or that they did not get to say goodbye — one symbol for me can mean a lot of things.

iVillage: Chapter four is devoted to helping others develop their intuition so they can also speak with Spirit. What are a couple of positives that can come from doing this?

TC: It gives them peace, comfort and hope and also reassures them that their loved ones are still with them, just in a different way. Not everyone is put on this earth to talk to dead people, but I feel that we are all here to learn service to others. 

As you become more aware of Spirit, you may also want to explore your intuition and spiritual connection more deeply. If so, you can read more on the topic or find a teacher or mentor to help you develop your own gifts. You might ultimately use your intuition not to become a medium, but a counselor who helps people through insight, a facilitator who puts people in the right place, or a listener who always seems to be there when a person needs guidance. All of these roles rely on intuition that’s made better by spiritual direction.

So soon enough, you’ll be able to connect with Grandma Betty in special ways, but you may also find that as your intuition grows, it leads you down other paths.

iVillage: Let’s briefly talk about how to recognize signs since many people will question whether or not something (like a song on the radio) was a sign or just wishful thinking.

TC: Through my experience I feel that when something happens around you that is odd, weird different or a coincidence, and it reminds you of your loved one, you need to embrace that as a sign. I believe that there is no such thing as a coincidence and it’s spirit popping in to say "hi."

Also, I feel that the more you acknowledge these hellos from Heaven, the more you will receive. You share a bond with your loved ones that can't be broken, and I want you to know that they’re just as interested in reaching out to you as you are to them. And no, you’re not bothering them in any way. They want you to know they’re with you, that they’re helping you and that they’re experiencing a beautiful existence beyond this one.

iVillage: Another tip from chapter four is identifying visitations in dreams. Please explain the difference between a dream about your deceased grandma and a dream where grandma actually paid a visit.

TC: Even if the dream doesn't make any sense, when you dream of a loved one and they are vivid, so real that you feel that they are standing there, that is a visitation. They don't have to speak with you for it to be a visitation but some people actually have conversations with their loved ones. For me, I don't dream of my loved ones that have past, I don't connect with them in that way.

iVillage: Are there any typical signs people should keep an eye out for?

TC: Some of the more typical signs I hear about are seeing random feathers, loose change, animals, insects and religious articles. Numbers are also a way that Spirit connects with us. For example, seeing the sequence 1-1-1 means that divine intervention is happening, or is about to.

Another way that Spirit and your loved ones like to get in touch is by manipulating things in and around your home. They’ll tilt pictures, move objects, turn the water on in the sink, turn electrical appliances off, make objects go missing and cause your pets to behave strangely. You may also hear knocking, footsteps or dishes clanging around in the kitchen. All of these things require a lot of energy from Spirit, so they’re working very hard to get you to notice them if you experience this.

And if Sprit is very close to you, you might feel chills, pressure in your ears or a tingly sensation in your head. Spirit might even touch you or direct your attention to someone who looks like a loved one, then a minute later, not at all. This is why you might feel like you saw your dead grandmother in the grocery store, but when looked back, she was different or gone.

iVillage: What single message would you like to give someone reading this article who may be grieving the loss of a loved one?

TC: Please know that there truly is more to life than here in the physical world and that soul bond and connection can never be broken between you and your loved one. Be open and embrace the signs and symbols from Spirit.

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