We all know the Christmas tale, Ebenezer Scrooge receives visits from a series of ghosts on Christmas Eve, and his life is changed forever. Well, this holiday season there’s a guidebook for that. Adam Berry, paranormal investigator and co-host of the Travel Channel’s Kindred Spirits, released his debut book, Goodbye Hello: Processing Grief and Understanding Death Through the Paranormal in time for the holidays. Sound a bit morbid for a gift? Not so. The book, thoroughly entertaining, is a positive and hopeful look at the afterlife through stories from Adam’s encounters, supernatural research, and psychology. Add Adam’s touch of queer sensibility and style of storytelling, and you have a touching book that serves as a comfort to those struggling to come to terms with grief and the end of life, themes that can play a heavy hand for those going through the holidays with loss.
Adam began experiencing the paranormal when he was a kid in his childhood home. But it wasn’t until a visit to Gettysburg, in a scene like a movie, that his relationship with the paranormal world would become his life’s journey. Destined for the stage, Berry was touring with TheaterWorksUSA to get his equity card. The tour came to the Gettysburg Theater and one evening Adam decided to take a ghost tour. When the tour ended in the dead of night, he decided to walk far from the path to get the full experience. He sure got one.
I was so fascinated with the idea of ghosts and the supernatural and grew up with paranormal pop culture like the Goosebumps books and Ghostbusters and Are You Afraid of the Dark? I had been fascinated with it my entire life, but I needed a show-me moment. I needed to see something just to give me a glimpse into whether it was real or not.
It didn’t take long before I started seeing what looked like white misty anomalies appearing and disappearing in the forest. The trees were blocking out whatever ambient light it was giving off, and it seemed misty and ethereal, and it would appear and disappear. And I remember thinking, what is that? But soon enough, I realized that it was actually something that I couldn’t explain … I looked to my right, and nobody was there, and I looked to my left, and nobody was there. I’m alone by myself having this experience. I felt the need to see more, so, like any good horror movie, I walked into the line of trees.
I could hear footsteps around me, and the leaves crunching, but I couldn’t see anyone. I could hear distant gunshots, like musket shots, very, very distant, almost as if these sounds were permeating from the surroundings. Now, we would call that a residual haunt. I was experiencing remnants of a battle that had happened over a hundred years ago. I remember at that point, I was not necessarily convinced, but completely changed. I’ve spent the better part of 15 years at this point looking into what that means. What is it, and why is it happening? Who’s doing it? And why have they not just sort of moved on to the next journey?
Berry dived fully into paranormal research. According to him, it wasn’t his choice to make. It’s what he had to do. He started reading books about the paranormal and he and his future husband, Ben, would begin their own ghost-hunting adventures. When they were watching TV one night, a commercial popped up from the television show Ghost Hunters with a casting call for their competition series, Ghost Hunters Academy, where investigators from across the nation evaluated the strengths of their investigations. As fate would have it, this would be the jumping off platform for Adam and would put him in the cross paths with Amy Bruni, his co-host and good friend. The two would go on to host the extremely popular Kindred Spirits and build a fan community of their own.
I think my life’s experience in the theater and being able to be outgoing and just being myself all the time, helped. It was a competition reality show in which I won, and my prize was to be on Ghost Hunters and to meet Amy Bruni. I was only supposed to be there for six episodes, but the network liked us so much that I stayed for three years. Again, I had no choice in the matter.
There is a saying – preparation meets opportunity. There’s something like that happening here. I think the universe is like, no, no, no, you have something to explore. You have a story to tell, and there are things that you can share with people. I take that as a blessing, sometimes a curse, but it’s something that I would not change for the world and I’m glad it fell upon my shoulders.
The afterlife comes as a result of the loss of life, which mostly affects those left behind. Grief and loss unify every person on the planet, no matter what their background. For Berry, writing this book was to offer a guide and comfort.
Grief is a very personal experience. You cannot tell someone how to grieve or how to process the loss of a loved one. But what you can do is give ideas on what might be to see if those ideas can unstick someone or help them continue their journey. I think we don’t talk about it as much because it is so personal. However, the LGBTQ+ community knows about grieving. I mean, we’ve been doing it for decades, since the AIDS epidemic. I think, more than any other community we come together; we know how to hold each other up and support each other in those times. Even though our community is very strong, we want answers to questions – what is happening, what is next, and what does this journey lead us into? Each person’s journey is specific to them. Having faith that something happens, makes the grieving process a little bit easier. Doing it together, grieving together as a community, always helps.
As much as Goodbye Hello presents different stories and variations on Adam’s communication with the afterlife (the differences of his paranormal contacts are mind-blowing), it is not a simple “Does God exist, is Jesus there, or is there a heaven and hell?” Adam presents his content by answering those questions without answering those questions.
I didn’t want it to be a how-to book because I think that’s selfish to tell people how they should feel and what they should be doing. What I wanted it to be was an exploration for myself and for others who may be looking for answers deeper than the surface-level questions. For instance, the religion chapter was very big for me. Growing up Southern Baptist, I was told to be a certain way, and I began to despise the church because every sermon was about gay people and how bad they were. And I was like, wait, they’re talking about me. I felt alienated, but enjoyed the community of it, not necessarily the message it was giving.
Throughout my paranormal investigations, people who were very religious would say to me – ‘what you’re doing is talking to the devil’, ‘you’re talking to demons every time, ghosts don’t exist.’
In the book, Berry explores the many times the Bible refers to psychics, soothsayers, prophets, and divination through fire. He goes on to explore the paranormal in all cultures and religions, the idea of a life after death is not special to Bible readers.
People talk about heaven and hell being, A or B, it’s heaven or hell. You go through the gates, and you’re done, or you go to hell and you burn. And the thing is, so many different religions speak on different other topics, like different ideas of what that means. So, if you believe in heaven, you’ll go there, whatever that is for you. If you don’t, you think you’re going to go back into the universe and expand beyond imagination and come back as something else. I wanted those ideas to be the fabric of the book so that others could be introduced to the topic. Read it and make your own choices.
Decide your own things. Does it help you? If it doesn’t, get rid of it. If it does, great. Use it. Meditate on it. See if it changes the way you feel about your loved one who just passed or something that might be happening to you. And that’s it. It’s way more complicated than that, but in a nutshell, that was the idea and to get it on paper was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
With his many conversations with those who have passed, why doesn’t Adam just ask them what happens when we die?
There was one case that we investigated where we asked a spirit if he believed in heaven, and he said, yes, but he wouldn’t give us any more information. There were a couple of stories like that that came up during the process of researching this book and interviewing people, and these entities and spirits and ghosts basically have a point where they can tell you certain things, and then at some point, they can’t tell you anymore because there’s no vocabulary to describe it. There is no way to tell you in words or pictures what it’s like, or whatever that is. At first, I was frustrated by it.
Even if there was imagery of it in the grandest way: A) there are people that still aren’t going to believe it. B) if you do believe it, a hundred thousand percent, that is it. It’s making us appreciate living in the day-to-day with the hope that what we believe is there in the afterlife. I’m not so mad that they don’t tell us exactly what it is, but there are glimpses of it. My friend Yvette had a friend who came to her and said, there is something else beyond here, there is a journey that you continue that will happen. But he’s like, there’s no words for me to tell you what that is.
Though Adam talks about his husband and his being part of the gay community, he hasn’t been given the title of “gay ghosthunter,” or often listed among other LGBTQ celebrities. Does he still feel part of the community?
What I think is interesting is ghosts, grief, and death are universal. It happens to everyone. It’s a universal thing that’s unavoidable. The topic appeals to everyone in their own way. I would love to be invited to fun, amazing functions where the LGBTQ community gets together and hashes out things that are important to us. But I don’t think the genre that I am promoting and talking about is singularly gay. We don’t go into investigations and say things like, “Hey, ghost, are you gay?” It’s just not something that comes up unless we know from factual information that they had relationships with the same sex. For instance, the rumor about Lizzie Borden and the actress; I brought that up to Lizzie Borden, and she shut down. She was like, I don’t want to talk about that.
I had the honor of investigating and speaking with spirits who were at the Gemini Lounge fire, the upstairs lounge fire in New Orleans. If you watch that episode of Ghost Hunters, I talk about my sexuality. I talk about Obama being in office. I talk about marriage being legal. I talk about things that have changed for the better directly to the community because I knew who I was speaking with. I knew the spirits and their orientation.
I would love for the gay community to talk about ghosts and the afterlife in depth. But, I also kind of think they already do. There’s a side of our community that’s really open to the idea of the afterlife. I mean, if I see another tarot queen on TikTok giving me a reading for the day, I might throw my phone across the room, but hey, girl, do you? Right? We like the idea of that because we’re empathetic, we’re compassionate, we understand different sides of our gender, and I think that helps us open up to expand to other ideas of what the afterlife is and could be. I’m happy to speak with anyone, but everything that I do is me. I’m gay. It doesn’t mean that I’m talking about gay ghosts all the time, but it’s something that happens.
And Adam’s message to the LGBTQ community?
Hang in there. It’s rough right now. It always has been, right? It feels like there’s this boiling over that’s about to happen and that we need to stay stronger and be more connected with each other than ever before. Our spirituality can help us do that. Our outlook on life and where we have come and where we’re going, whether it’s community-based, political-based, or spiritually based, holds each other up. And if you don’t believe in prayer, at least say a kind word about somebody who’s going through it, because now’s the time to support each other and make sure that we’re all okay.
Get Adam’s book Goodbye Hello wherever books are sold.
Last modified: January 5, 2024