(14) Different Points Of View

This topic is about a loss where your “emotional weather” can be very severe and which can affect you for years to come.

2013M12 - Christmas - Mourn & Grief FoundationIt’s almost Christmas and New Year again. It’s time to rethink what happened to us this year. We need to make sure that we need to learn from the errors we made and we need to especially remember the good things that happened to us.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Hans Fransen

This topic is not about your bereavement because you lost someone who is very dear to you. It is not about processing your grief because of a separation. No, it’s not all about that, it’s about a different kind of loss. A loss that is invisible to others. A loss where your “emotional weather” can be very severe and which can affect you for years to come.

The topic is about a type or form of loss that has a major impact on you. And, when you try to discuss this loss or the effects it has on you, the other person doesn’t have the slightest idea of what you are talking about.

I do hope that I have started you wondering by now what this topic is about and also that you are still with me by continuing to read this.

Let me give you one example to make things clear.

When our children were born, first our daughter and later our son, they were both diagnosed by our pediatrician having Cystic Fibrosis. My wife though was deep down in her heart convinced that our son was not diagnosed correctly. My wife stopped with her job, which she loved, and treated our two children at home. When they grew older our daughter and son were treated together in the same room while my wife read stories to them and regularly they were also doing other fun activities. This happened twice a day and it took quite some time to treat them; they became very close.

You can imagine that our family was well known in the hospital since our children were on average once a month in the out-patient clinic for a check. Our pediatrician retired and the one who replaced him wanted to know our family better. During the interview my wife mentioned her doubt again about our son’s diagnosis. Our children were retested and the outcome was confirming my wife’s gut feeling. Our son was tested OK and you can imagine that we were euphoric on the one hand and that we were very sad because the diagnosis for our daughter was confirmed. We could stop our son’s treatment immediately, but I made the decision to slowly reduce his treatment which also was supported by our pediatrician.

My wife continued to treat our daughter during which our son was playing in the same room and was also listening to my wife’s stories.

About 15 years later, sometime after the death of our daughter, we were discussing the above with our son and we were shocked by his response. Our son was angry with me all that time because I made the decision not to treat him anymore. Although he was in the same room when my wife treated our daughter, he didn’t feel he got the same amount of attention.

During those 15 years our daughter was always in our thought. During those years we were always afraid that it could be the last year of her life. Our son was OK, he didn’t need that maybe overwhelming attention our daughter needed. It took all of us quite a while to fully understand the impact it had on our son. Imagine, over a period of about 15 years he was angry with me that I made the decision not to treat him anymore which resulted in less attention from us to him, while at the same were so happy that my wife knew from day one that our son was healthy, very healthy indeed. But also imagine the missed opportunities.

So here we are, a family of four persons. A daughter who needs to be treated every day and knows that she will have a short live span. That she is different compared to other children of her age and I assume you do understand what that meant to her. A son who is angry at me because in his opinion he got less attention since I made the decision to stop his treatment. The relationship with his mother was accelerated in a great way during his puberty. And to me, in a nut shell, I was just the bad guy. A mother who is on the one hand euphoric that her son was well and OK and on the other hand was in and in sad because she lived with the thought that each year could be her daughter’s last one. A father who was travelling all over the place for his job and was helping at home whenever he could. The bills for his daughter’s treatment were staggering high and his biggest fear was losing his job hence he tried to become the best in his trade.

So here we are, a family of four living close together and having bad days and having great days. They were caring for each other, they were communicating with each other but, the real questions were not asked and the real issues were not brought to the table.

So here we are, a family of three trying to cope with the loss of a daughter and a sister. Finally talking to each other and slowly trying to understand what really happened, what they could have done and should have done.

So we are, a family of two trying to cope with the loss of a mother, a sister, a daughter and a wife. Finally understanding the questions we should have asked each other and finally understanding what we should have done. So many lost opportunities.

Dear reader, I provided just one exemple and do know that my family is not the only family to have this kind off loss. There are many, many families dealing with the same kind of loss and knowingly or unknowingly are trying to survive somehow. My request to you is to look at each family member and ask yourself if you really know and understand all feelings, emotions and issues between the two of you. My next request to you is to put yourself in the position of the other person and ask yourself those same questions again.

Dear reader, don’t make the same mistake I made. So please ask yourself those questions and when done compare notes with each other and listen to each other. It’s an excellent way to know and try to understand each other’s points of view. It’s a great way to build a solid foundation for making the decisions in your family so you can reduce or prevent a loss where the “emotional weather” of a member of your family could be very severe and which could affect her or him for years to come. It’s worth the effort.


(13) Nothing Remains, Everything Passes Away

It is inevitable, everything changes.

In 2009 I walked from the South of France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, known as “Camino de Santiago”. A journey of 900 km. One of the things that hit me was while walking the color of the earth changed under my feet from color to color. From red to brown, to grey, to yellow and to all shades in between. The surroundings changed, one moment I walked between the vines, the other along wheat fields and then all of a sudden thru a small authentic village or an industrial area of a big city. Even if I sat quietly everything was changing; the sunlight, the wind, passers-by, thoughts, nothing remained the same.

It is inevitable, everything changes.

It is the same with mourning, every day mourning is not the same, mourning changes contuously of color and intensity. One moment you think you never will be happy again and the other moment you feel strong and you do believe in a better future. One moment you’re not to comfort and the other moment you dream away at a beautiful memory.

During the walk to Santiago de Compostela, I met a German singer. He sang for me: “Nichts bleibt, nichts bleibt, alles geht” (Nothing remains, nothing remains, everything passes away).

I never forgot those words, and when if I feel myself a bit down or sad then I remember those words again and they give me comfort and confidence. It does not remains this way they say to me, there will be better times.

In the beginning of my mourning it seemed as if I was walking in the mountains, one moment I was sitting in the Valley and the next I was sitting on the top. I felt myself like an injured animal.

Nothing remains, the valleys became less deep and the peaks less high. Now I walk in the Sun through a beautiful rolling landscape. And when it’s raining sometimes then that’s OK with me because I do know that the Sun is shining again the next day.

Nothing remains, everything passes away.

As is with your mourning.

(12) A Déja Vue … I Am Sad And Happy Again

We lost a great man in Nelson Mandela this week. And again I have this sad and happy feeling at the same time.

We lost a great man in Nelson Mandela this week. And again I have this sad and happy feeling at the same time.

I am happy because…

  • He set an example to many people in the world.
  • He was teaching us how we can change the world for the better, even in desperate times.

I am sad because…

  • He is not able any more to further advance or to further develop his teachings to us.
  • We cannot meet this exceptional human being any more although he will always be in our heart.

The best way we can honor Nelson Mandela is by maintaining his lessons (his inheritance) to us as he would do and make this world a better place.

(11) Mourn & Grief Foundation Launched

A major milestone has been completed. In the Netherlands a “Stichting Jouw Rouwverwerking” (The Foundation) was established and is located in Wassenaar. The Foundation operates outside the Netherlands under the name “Mourn & Grief Foundation.”

Hans Fransen Founder Mourn & Grief FoundationA major milestone has been completed. In the Netherlands a “Stichting Jouw Rouwverwerking” (The Foundation) was established and is located in Wassenaar. The Foundation operates outside the Netherlands under the name “Mourn & Grief Foundation.”

Things can happen to people in life e.g. the death of a next of kin, a child, a divorce, a terminal decease, the loss of a job.

Our customer’s personal loss can hardly be imagined, other than by those who have been there already and are willing to share their lessons learned and showing that there is a light at the end at the tunnel. Our approach therefor is aimed to help people in a very practical way. It is aimed to help people change their line of thinking, help them expanding their capabilities, help them broaden their scope into the unexpected, help them opening new horizons, help them create new opportunities, help them in coping with their loss.

The Notary signs-off the by-laws
The Notary signs-off the by-laws

The by-laws define The Foundation’s objectives of the Foundation as follows:

  1. To offer assistance to people and to support people who lose or have lost someone.
  2. To provide or carry out any activities related to the previous in the broadest sense or can contribute to this.

The Foundation will try to satisfy these objectives by:

  1. Providing support, or support in the process of grief, or talking or discussing about grief.
  2. Giving workshops, lectures and presentations.
  3. Doing publications and research, giving guidance and training (coaching).
  4. Giving mail support and giving advice and providing a listening ear through a call center.

When exercising its activities and pursuing its objectives The Foundation should have a non-profit-making aim.

In order to comply with the Foundation’s objectives it is looking for Board members that can make an active contribution to these in Netherlands. One of the conditions is that Board members have empathy and affinity with the objectives of the Foundation and as a result can provide support to the Foundation’s aid workers in order to obtain a better ownership to better guide and advise its customers. It should be obvious that Board members in The Netherlands should be able to speak, write and discuss in the Dutch language fluently.

Those who can and are willing to apply may do so by filling in the form at “Are You Interested?“. Please motivate why you are suitable in terms of knowledge and experience to serve on the Board. Upon receipt, we will contact you in which we also indicate how you can email your CV to us.

Hans Fransen

(10) My Path To Bereavement

Imagine that I was aware of starting my bereavement much sooner than 13 years after the death of our dear daughter. I am still wondering whether my wife would still be with me in that case. So to all of you who lost a person who is dear to you, seek support the sooner the better.

I used to see images I could not explain to myself. Later it turned out that these images showed me moments in my future. I didn’t understand them and was not able interpret these images, so you can image they weren’t of any help to me and in other words it scared me a lot. Our daughter saw much more images and people of which she was not afraid. She discussed these with us and she was even able to interpret them. My wife didn’t like this at all, but I saw a few pieces of the puzzle of my life starting to fall in place.

After the death of our daughter she showed me many more images. She knew I was visually oriented, hence, she communicated to me by showing images only. Brilliant images with indescribable beautiful colors. The shades, their intensity, the warmth and emotions these colors showed were indescribably beautiful. It was something I had never seen before. And then the peace those images radiated. Words like brilliant and impressive, all words with which you try to describe these colors and these images were a far cry from what I was allowed to see. The images gave me support, they also indicated that there is much more after our lives on Earth and because of this I was able to scramble back little by little.

Both, my wife and me, were looking for much distraction to release the stress in our bodies caused by the death of our daughter. We had a massage every week. I went to the Sports Center and later yoga. My wife played tennis several times a week, exercised Tai Chi and later also went to the Sports Centre. My wife cried quietly at night while during the day she was the happiest person you can imagine. My body slowly de-stressed, she couldn’t relax. I tried to help her by instinctively doing those things that could release her stress, but she didn’t accepted this because she didn’t want me to deal with all her emotions that came free. She wanted to protect me because I had much grief too. She didn’t want me to feel her sorrow and grief in all its intensity.

My wife accepted no help at all and tried to resolve it in her own way. Eventually she died of a broken heart. We both foresaw her death but she didn’t want to talk about this, with nobody.

Despite his grief, my son kept me up and running. The teams at my work kept me up and running. In addition to the daily puzzles during our work we had a lot of fun. I have treasured friends who kept me on my path. Wherever I was, the teams gave me much support all the time; they were my Golden Teams. We have been on vacation a few times my son and me, which was fun and brought us closer than we ever had been. But when I was alone I became a different person.  In the two years after the death of my dear wife I have never been so ill in my life. There were moments I didn’t want to live anymore; I obviously didn’t know how to cope with my grief.

My employer didn’t want me to retire. My job was awesome so I didn’t. However, the last project spoiled all the fun and love for my job. Yet there was always that huge urge that I had still to do something that is important for my future and for all of us in this world.

After my retirement, some 13 years after the death of our daughter and about 2 years after the death of my wife, it became very difficult for me. My energy disappeared, felt depressed and whatever I tried to do didn’t work out; I was so … tired. By chance, not sure whether chance exist, I found a document that explained how people deal with processing loss. There were statements and comments that were also applicable to myself. At that moment I recognized and acknowledged that I was working on or maybe starting the bereavement due to the loss of my daughter and my dear wife. The first step was finally taken.

Now imagine that I was aware of starting my bereavement much sooner than 13 years after the death of our dear daughter. I am still wondering whether my wife would still be with me in that case. So to all of you who lost a person who is dear to you, seek support the sooner the better.