(100) Moments that determine the course of your life

It might happen to you

Moments that determine the course of your life’s path.

Those moments just after the birth of your child or just during a conversation

Whatever the reason, the paediatrician is of the opinion after collegial consultation that your new-born child does not have long to live and gives advice not to send birth cards to family and friends. How do you cope with this as brand-new parents?

Dad, why do I always have to take those pills and need to check at the hospital every time? How do you explain to your eight-year-old daughter that this is necessary to keep her body in good condition because her life expectancy is so short? How does your daughter deal with the fact that she has not been granted a long life in this world?

Those moments where dying is eminent

We have found bone cancer that is at an advanced stage. We expect you may have another 3 months. What goes through you when you get such a message? How do you deal with this? How do you explain that to your partner and your family? How does your partner cope with such a message… and your family?

Dad, do you want to help me, I’m so tired… no matter how much I want to stay with you, I do not have the energy anymore. How do you answer your daughter’s question of 21 years young who has given everything she possibly could give and has arrived at point on her life’s path where she really can’t go any further? And how do you help her while you yourself… are deeply hurt and grieving because you can feel and see that she is deteriorating fast and will die soon.

Those moments where you get a serious warning

You are dreaming a few times in a row that if you do not go to the doctor you’ll die soon. How do you deal with such dreams? Do you just ignore the dream as pertinent crap… or are you going to see the doctor?

You consult a specialist … and at the end of the consult you are told that it would be a good idea to prepare for the worst. How do you deal with the fact that the risk of unwanted side effects or that you may even die during surgery, are highly probable?

And then the questions keep coming

And then the questions keep arriving… there seems to be no end of these. Questions you don’t know the answers to. Questions where you have no idea how to act upon.

How do you deal with the fact that your life suddenly seems to be so much shorter than you thought it would be? How do you go about the fact that your life suddenly took a very different direction than you expected? You still want to do so much in your life, but your body simply can’t anymore. How does your family cope with this? And your friends, how do they deal with it? How do you support each other? Do you get support? Who supports who?

So, who supports each other? And how?

You just can’t offer support

When I think of my loved ones, I am there for them when they run into emotional issues with which their life suddenly seems so much more complicated? Does that mean I will be there for them spontaneously? On the contrary, they need to ask for support. They should have the need that I’m there for them. It also means that, as a positive answer to their request, I need to take up my commitment to the full 100%. After all, they should’ve the confidence that whatever happens, I’m there… always!

Not everyone understands what it means to offer help

People who offer their help with the best intentions often have no idea what it does mean for them; how they can help and above all continue to give support and what it takes of (emotional) energy to everyone. Energy the other one may have less, and less … and less … and less.

If you’re willing to be there for the other person, you should be able to establish empathy and you should be able to understand what that other person is experiencing, what the other feels. That’s easily said but certainly not easily done when you’ve never experienced what the other is going through now… certainly when you’re each other’s partner. It’s demanding when your partner is dying. Much is asked of you which you should be able to offer… to keep on offering… independent on how hard that may be. You must keep going for the full 100%… with all your heart.

You should be able to discuss tough topics with each other

You should be able to discuss issues about life and death, when the other wants to do so. Issues like is there a god and if so, who is that, is there a heaven and a hell, is there life after death…  issues you can perceive from different points of view depending on your faith and culture. What is important in any case is that you should not reject the other because he or she thinks or feels differently than you do. After all, that’s personal for everyone!

Don’t act inhuman

As an outsider you may not respond lightly to the situation (e.g. that it isn’t too bad, I you know how you are feeling, my aunt had a similar disease… much worse then you though…). Something that is very certain, is that you, as an outsider, have not the slightest idea what the other person is struggling with, what the other person is feeling and how much pain or sadness that can give him or her. In short, when the other person says that he or she is in pain, is afraid, or doesn’t know what to do … then it that’s the case!

Don’t be cruel

Don’t be cruel to the other when you don’t accept, are not willing to accept or even deny that the other is seriously ill when the other says so. It’s not always the case that you can see on the outside that someone is serious ill. When the other indicates that he or she is seriously ill, he or she apparently wants to talk about it with you. That does not always mean that you want to do so too… maybe you do not know how to deal with it… or just because you’re afraid to talk about it. That isn’t necessarily bad, but in order to be honest with the other… and with yourself… tell why you do not discuss this at that moment. In that case you create clarity.

Of course, you can make fun together

Of course, you can laugh, make jokes together, make each other happy so you can create and collect a diamond. A diamond means for me a moment of happiness, of warmth, of joy, of love, of friendship. When I can create or collect a diamond during the day, I consider that day a great day.

Answers are not always available

Not all questions can be answered… so don’t make up answers… be honest to each other. That’s not always easy though, because you may get the feeling that you let the other down… but that’s not the case… your honesty and being there for other sits at a much higher plan than not being able to answer the question.

In matters of life and death, self-interest may look around the corner

The person who is dying may finds it difficult enough for him or herself. His or her opinion or faith that there may be life after death plays a major role in this. Faith and cultural backgrounds are important factors in our daily life and can be even the driving force for wars. But at that moment, the moment you are sitting with the dying person, your faith and your cultural background are not relevant… those of dying one are!

Just like the person who is dying, the loved ones who are remaining have difficult times! It is my opinion that these dear ones, if they don’t do so already, should put aside their own interests about the dying person. Don’t come up with comments like he or she should make all the effort and should try to recover… to be healthy again. Why would you ask such a thing? Because you can’t live without the other? All options were already examined by the dying because he or she knew somehow that he or she was going to die.

Give (eventually) the dying permission to go Home. Personally, I experienced what it means for the dying when you give permission to leave… permission to go Home. I will never forget the moment I saw my daughter with a radiant smile on her face when she died.

Finally

I can add many more points to above list, but it’s in my opinion that the following points are the most important ones:

If you’re willing to be there for the other person, you should be able to establish empathy and you should be able to understand what that other person is experiencing, what the other feels. That’s far from simple, in particularly when you’ve never experienced what the other is going through at that moment.

That is even more applicable when you are each other’s partner. Especially when one you are the one that stays. You have not asked for it, but you as a partner are asked to fulfill your vow to the other… “Until death follows.” You must be able to do that… determined… however demanding that is. You must keep going with… with your courage high… for the full 100%. And as a partner you do that anyway… that’s quite ordinary, isn’t it?

Whatever happens in your life, there are always forces that help you further. It may not be the way you want to, but they will help you with whatever puzzles you encounter on your life’s path. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask though!

(99) Roundabout of Choices

Roundabout of choices. You keep making choices that lead to similar consequences as from choices you made previously. You promised yourself never to do that again, and still you did.

Choices

In our daily life we consciously and unconsciously make many choices. With one choice it is crystal clear for you to choose, with the other choice the options are not so clear, let alone that you can see the consequences of your choice. You never get full assurance for making your choice. As soon as you have made the first steps after your choice, everything will change as things that were previously hidden for you now become visible. In short, it makes no sense to reason (in detail) what choice you should make… but trust your feelings.

If you don’t make a choice, you literally stand still, and you won’t continue on your life’s path. But, make sure you don’t get on a roundabout of choices.

Roundabout of Choices

Each time you make the same choice of which you promised yourself never to make it again, then your life’s path run along a roundabout; the roundabout of choices. Even though the players you meet may change over time when you walk along your roundabout of choices, it remains a repetition of moves and decisions. You won’t proceed in life in my opinion because you didn’t learn obviously from previous lessons.

Below some examples. Many examples could be added to the list. What matters though is that you keep making choices that have the same kind of outcome or consequences… you promised to yourself not to make these choices again… and, still you did.

An example: Your partner abuses you

Consider for example of a situation where your partner abuses you, or bullies, deceives, neglects or just ignores you. You may not have experienced that in the beginning of your relationship. Later, when you became aware of the situation you were in, you still loved your partner deeply despite his or her behaviour. You didn’t want to admit at first and eventually, perhaps even after long deliberation, you decided to end the relation. And when you settled down again you thought at yourself: “Never again!”

Eventually you met someone again with whom you decided to enter a new relationship. Later, you discovered that this new partner behaved the same way as your ex-partner. “Not again!” you thought. However, your friends saw it happening again from the beginning of your new relationship and were thinking: “How is it possible that you didn’t learn from that hard lesson the last time?” At that moment you returned to the same point on the roundabout of choices where you were last time.

An example: After a break, you choose the same partner each time

The same applies to people who after a broken relationship still choose the same partner again and … sometimes keep choosing … despite the previously broken relationship (s) and the ensuing frustrations and grief. We may think at the next choice … that we did learn from our mistakes and that this time we will make the right choice. And yet others, who know you well … find that you again have again chosen a partner who is addicted to alcohol and / or drugs or threatens or abuses you. You made the same choice as before in your life when you had promised yourself that you would never make such a choice again.

Any other example

That lousy or bad situation does not necessarily have to deal with a partner. I could also be about completely different things: like your financial decisions or changing jobs every time because the last job didn’t meet your expectations again.

How to proceed from here

Get off that roundabout of choices

Get off that roundabout of choices. You can only proceed on your path of life when you choose a route that caries you away from that roundabout of choices. However, before that happens you will have to be prepared not to retreat every time … maybe you think it too bizarre for words … on that old “trusted” path that was your roundabout of choices. You must be willing to think completely out of the box and perhaps even dare to live that way. Only then can you develop yourself further and perhaps discover also new horizons that help you create new opportunities.

Go for it as soon as you leave the roundabout of choices

Once you step on that new path, that path that takes you away from that roundabout of choices, don’t look back but forward to where that path goes. Leave the past for what it is. The past cannot be changed anyway. You can only make choices that concern the future, your future.

Keep making choices

In my opinion, every person has a purpose in life. However, that goal is not important… what is important is the path you followed to achieve your goal and in particularly the lessons you learned on that path. To reach your goal you’ll have to make choices to move forward in life. What those choices are? That’s not for me. That’s up to you! You are responsible for the choices you make in your life. It also means that you must accept the consequences of a choice made… after all it’s your choice.

New opportunities

It amazes me time and time again is that you unwind once you’ve made your choice. You’ve put a step forward. And whatever the situation was where you’re coming from… or maybe even still is… you’ve put a step… a step forward. And with that you opened new opportunities to move forward in life. Make sure you make use of what you discover… see… get… receive… and feel. Exploit it fully! Get all out of it! At a certain point in time you may discover that you’ve learned new things… something that you never would’ve chosen otherwise … something is a revelation to you… where you become a happy person!

(97) How Easy Can It Be

Lately it seems like I am meeting more and more Angels on Earth. Angels that show you… how simple it all can be… is granted to be… is. How beautiful the world is… how beautiful you, yourself, are… and… the people around you. How with a few words your world can tip… from rain to sunshine… from gloom to joy… from in and in grief to moments where you can forget that grief. How with simple insights… veils are removed one by one… making everything crystal clear… lighter… serene… happier… and you can in and in enjoy life again.

Those moments I consider the diamonds in my life.

My sincerest thanks to all the Angels around me… I love you!

(95) A Chance Encounter

When you pay close attention to the world around you… you regularly come across special things to enjoy… you meet people with whom you have special conversations. The more you are aware of this… the more beautiful life becomes… the happier you become… despite that great loss, or the dear one(s) you have lost.

We met somewhere by chance at an airport, waiting for the call to board the plane that would take us to our destinations. She went to Italy… a week to a painting course in Florence and then a week to Venice and Rome. I was on my way home.

The encounter had something magical. We both had the feeling that we knew each other for a very long time. But, that just wasn’t possible. She had grown up somewhere in Central America, and I somewhere in North-West Europe. During the conversation we found out that she had lost her husband and her son… and… I had lost my daughter and my wife. She had another daughter and I had another son. It seemed as if we were two halves of a whole. We recognized each other’s grief with which we struggled… we understood each other completely. Perhaps that’s why we felt we had known each other for a very long time.

Our conversation took less than an hour, but it felt so much longer. It seemed like we had to meet each other… we had to meet each other to make us aware that although you have a lot of grief because of your loss… that you’re not the only one.

When she walked to the plane that would bring her to Italy it seemed… as if she was dancing… as if she was relieved… as if she had become aware that she was not the only one who had lost precious mates. In my case it seemed a veil was being pulled away… making everything a bit brighter… happier… lighter.

(c) Stichting Jouw Rouwverwerking
Beauty is in the unexpected

It was just a short encounter, by happenstance. But still… by the peace and the joy it gave… afterwards… both to her and to me… you would (almost) think that this encounter was set up by a higher power. And just those little moments… those little moments that can stand in stark contrast to the life of all day… those little moments are for me the moments that make it worthwhile to take everything out of life what’s in for me.

When you pay close attention to the world around you… then you regularly come across special things to enjoy… then you meet people with whom you have special conversations. The more you are aware of this… the more beautiful life becomes… the happier you become… despite that great loss, or the dear one(s) you have lost.

(94) It’s Time to Change Course

What I have learned in the recent years while writing these blogs for the Mourn & Grief Foundation is … that at the beginning of my journey on the path of mourning I absolutely could not see and could not realize what it would take and what I would experience… a journey with moments in which I no longer knew what I should to do in order to get back on track in my life… moments in which I would rather prefer to die and to go Home, to be able to see my great love again and to hold her in my arms again… and yet … and yet, during those same moments there was always something that, or someone who motivated or, stimulated me in some way to go on… and moments when I really could not go any further in my life and everything seemed against me, my guardian angels made me feel that if I asked them for help, I would receive help in some way.

In retrospect, when I looked back during those years so now and then, I was always amazed what I had achieved in the meantime. I never noticed that during the day-to-day affairs. However, when looking back over a period of several months I could clearly see this. It provided me also with the extra strength to continue my life’s path.

In retrospect, I should’ve asked for help with processing my grief sooner than later. Apparently, it must have been the case not to do so, because the path of life on which I find myself now feels very good to me. It is what it is!

It’s time to change course because the processing of grief means to go on in life. Usually going on means to go on in a different way than you used to do so before. To go on with those things that are important to you in your life. Despite that huge loss. Despite that raw pain. To go on with your life… you must!

Realize that the closer you were to the dear one you’ve lost and, realize that the more you have loved her or him, the rawer and the deeper your grief of the loss will be. On the one hand that hurts you a lot and the other hand it is a huge compliment to the dear one you’ve lost and… it also is an indication how deep the love to each other was… or… still is.

But by going on, on your life’s path you also set your first steps in processing your grief. By going on you also begin to look ahead again, although you may or may not realize your destination yet. Hence, yes, it’s time to change course.

Yes, for me too it’s time to change course. Somehow, I feel I’ve fulfilled my daughter’s last wish I promised to carry out. Lately, it became more like a personal need to do this kind of work

As for the Foundation’s website it is also time to change course. A plan is being developed to add a discussion forum to the website for you to use later this year. It is obvious that the forum will be placed in a secure environment. I would like to receive any suggestion you have for the structure or content of the forum. You can contact me via this link.