(6) Mourning … Why Don’t We See It Brighter?

Life is made up of opposites and we are always looking for a balance. Everything in life should be in balance. No ugliness without beauty. No evil without good. No profit without loss . No darkness without light. No past without future. No happiness without grief . No hate without love. These are all examples of a opposites that are balanced, you also could interpret these as the two sides of a coin. One side doesn’t exist without the other.

Life is made up of opposites and we are always looking for a balance. Everything in life should be in balance. No ugliness without beauty. No evil without good. No profit without loss . No darkness without light. No past without future. No happiness without grief . No hate without love. These are all examples of opposites that are balanced, you also could interpret these as the two sides of a coin. One side doesn’t exist without the other.

Then why do most of us at the loss of a loved one go so deep in mourning? Why would you not be happy and proud that you both were allowed to walk jointly a part of your life paths? Why would you not be pleased that you have enjoyed with each other? Why would you not be pleased with everything you may have learned from each other? It’s just not fair to the other, there is so much to share. It is also not fair to yourself that you are not aware of or do not remind the beautiful things you have shared or were allowed to do for each other. On top of that, there remains of course the physical loss of a loved one, the proximity, the loving attention to each other, no longer being able to see or touch someone who was close to you, to get used to the fact that you now have to do everything yourself .

When I look back in my life to my two buddies that I lost then I can’t perceive so well anymore the negative things and the sadness. The positive things and beautiful things are very relevant and very bright in my memory. That realization did not only clear my head but also gave me much joy. It made me able to look ahead, to look forward to the future.

Life is like driving a car. You look through the windshield at what is on your way and at what that is coming at you and you also look regularly through your rear view mirror to see what is behind you and to determine whether that may have an impact on your path. Although you are regularly looking backward when driving the car, you don’t do this continuously.

Hence, when driving a car you are typically looking ahead, i.e. most of the time. When that is not the case and you are only looking through your rear view mirror, while drivingforwards, then accidents happen. The same is true for bereavement. So every now and then looking backward is good and even important you should not forget what happened there, though not all the time, not continuously.

When start looking at the future and see its possibilities and the opportunities that are there for you, then you don’t only help yourself but you also give the loved one who you left you a huge compliment. A compliment in terms a of thank you for all we have shared together and for everything we have enjoyed together. Thank you for what I have been able to learn from you. Thank you that you have kept me or brought me on my path of life. Thank you for the confidence in me that I now can continue on my path.

Unfortunately, your dearest has left you. The farewell was emotional. Looking back, you have enjoyed a lot of things and have learned a lot from each other. Please, as an ultimate thank you to your dearest, let all the lessons you have learned from each other not have been in vain.

In my humble opinion, this is what it’s all about. In my humble opinion this is true love and the meaning of life.
[signoff]

(5) Outside Your Comfort Zone

When travelling you meet a lot of people, many … many people. People with different shades of color, from different cultures, using different languages, from various ages and having different backgrounds and what they all have in common is that each of them is a beautiful person with a beautiful mind and with an interesting story of their life.

When travelling you meet a lot of people, many … many people. People with different shades of color, from different cultures, using different languages, from various ages and having different backgrounds and what they all have in common is that each of them is a beautiful person with a beautiful mind and with an interesting story of their life.

People have become important to me. I changed from steel and ships to people. I got used to people just started talking to me … even about personal things. Met once a woman with a child on a 9 hour flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam. They were sitting next to me. We started talking to each other. She talked about her life, her issues, her anxieties, her hopes and the fun she had in live. It took us over 7 hours. This was one the best flights I ever made in my life.

I have no idea how this works. Maybe I am open to others, or maybe it’s the chemistry between people or maybe I transmit a signal that says “Hey I’m here and am open to have a chat with you. Don’t mind the topic.” That some people are sensitive to this signal; a signal that is non-visible. None the less they seem to receive it. On the other hand I used to find that people could be afraid of me. I used to be above average in length and can easily fill out a door frame, so what could I expect.

The reverse “I don’t want talking to you” also occurs. I assume that people are much more sensitive for signals like those or they themselves want to be left alone, or don’t feel like talking, or don’t feel safe or … maybe it’s me and I’m just boring. In itself this is strange because with today’s technology (mobile, web, text) the whole world can be reached; at any time and any place you can reach any person in the world; maybe that is what people do because they don’t talk to each other but text to each other. Or is it because one feels much safer anonymously … or is it that they have something on their mind, … or is it they want to stay within their own comfort zone?

Yet, as soon as you touch base with young people, not only young people but with people from any age, from any religion, from any culture, or with aggressive people, or with weird people, and with weird I mean outside your comfort zone, and when you start talking and discussing with any of them a lot of beautiful things will happen.

We were on holiday and drove from Big Bend National Park to El Paso, Texas, US and were looking for a plaid and some leather articles made by local Indian people. We had received an address and we had a road map, but we lost our way completely. OK, that can happen but the area is huge and you hardly see people around the place. Eventually we ended up in an area where people at home would strongly advise you not to go there; however we did. We explained where came from, what we wanted and … that we were lost. Yeah they could see that. We started chatting, had some drinks, we stayed talking, we had fun, we enjoyed lunch and they gave us a very detailed explanation how to drive to the place where we wanted to go originally. Looking back, a place and people that we found really scary in the beginning, that day became one of the best experiences and one of the best days during our trip.

You probably started wondering what this post has to do with mourning and grief. Well, actually, it has a lot to do with mourning and grief.

In my previous post “It’s All About Ourselves, Isn’t It?” from October 20th I raised the question why we have a tendency to avoid the discussion about separation or death. My statement was at the end of the post that, whether we want it or not, as a result of a separation or a death we have to change and sometimes we have to change the hard way; most often a very emotional one. That is something we really don’t like and which is most of the time an understatement.

In my Dutch version of this blog a comment was given by somebody that it is in our human nature to live and that we do not want to be confronted with death. But death came very close to her when her husband died and when her life was threatened by a terminal decease. Imagine when she was confronted with death she started thinking about death and loss and she started to feel and understand what it means to be mortal. Her last sentences say it all “And I started to live! Really live!!”

In other words, come out of your comfort zone and try to learn and understand. Don’t be afraid and discover new possibilities and new horizons. Opportunities you couldn’t even imagine before. These don’t appear by themselves, you have to do something for it. Do you need to have guts for that? Maybe … but later on you will say “gosh, I wished I had done this earlier.”

Please talk to me. Do you recognize this? Or … do you have a different opinion?

Talk to me.
There are two ways you can “talk” to me. Thru “contact us”; in that case your response is not posted in the blog. Or via this post in which case your comment is posted and it is visible to everybody.

(4) It’s All About Ourselves, Isn’t It?

When you start talking about separation or death people tend to avoid the discussion because … Because of what actually? Why do people respond that way?

When you start talking about separation or death people tend to avoid the discussion because … Because of what actually? Why do people respond that way?

After some research on data from the Dutch Bureau of Census and based on some checklists related to dealing with stress I found that on average at least 1 out of every 30 to 35 persons is dealing with grief one way or the other. Hence look around you and start wondering why people tend to respond that way.

Listen to the news. Things happen to all of us all the time (e.g. a separation, the death of a partner, a child, a lost job, a terminal decease, war). It’s not if but it’s when. We don’t like it and we do want to stay far from it. However reality of life shows different. Hence look around you again and start asking yourself why you respond that way.

So, do we better prepare for it when it happens to ourselves and we would be able to deal with it … somehow? I don’t know. I have lost quite some people who were very close to me. Each time it was different and it felt different; not just a bit but actually a lot different. Hence, preparing for it would be difficult if not impossible.

What can you expect? Yes you can prepare yourself for the rituals that need to be carried out after a separation or a death. But from an emotional point of view? It’s not a stage act where you are an onlooker. No you are personally involved and the script is different each time and depends on many factors that are in force like the people around you and their interpersonal relationships and each with their own way in dealing with their loss. Family and in-laws may start emotionally and passionately arguing in dividing material items; discussions that can become a far cry from “professional” behavior. The more people are involved the more complex the situation becomes. So how would you be able to prepare for a situation like that? My personal view is that you can’t, but … that doesn’t mean we can’t try to do so.

The first hurdle to take is that we are not comfortable to talk about mourning and grief. It is about the sad side of life and it has a high emotional load. It is about the fact that we do not really want this happening to us, but is does at some point in time. It might be that we are afraid from this, afraid for the change that is going to happen to us, afraid of the unknown.

For whatever the reason, we lost somebody and this has definitely an impact on our life. Then we must change and sometimes we have to change the hard way.

So, it’s not about the one who left us but actually it’s about ourselves …Is that why we don’t want to talk about it?

Please talk to me. Do you recognize this? Or … do you have a different opinion?

Talk to me.
There are two ways you can “talk” to me. Thru “contact us”; in that case your response is not posted in the blog. Or via this post in which case your comment is posted and it is visible to everybody.

(3) Somebody I Met

She asked me about my children and my relationship. I told her about the loss of my two buddies. My daughter, when she was 21 years and my wife, my Soul Mate, after 35 years of marriage. She was shocked and she was deeply impressed. She wanted to understand how I dealt with a situation like that.

The restaurant I had chosen for dinner was full. There was a long waiting queue. That’s what you get when you don’t make a reservation. Anyway, there was one seat free at the bar and the waitress suggested to take that one. I was alone and the choice was easily made.

The free seat was sitting between a man and a woman. The man next to me was in a deep business conversation with his partner and nobody seemed to exist around them. The woman next to me turned out to be alone and was in deep thought. Eventually we started to talk. She was traveling on business and she missed her children. She told me that as a result of a car accident she had lost the love of her life years ago. She was still devastated. The relationship lasted about eighteen months. “Only eighteen months” she said.

She asked me about my children and my relationship. I told her about the loss of my two buddies. My daughter, when she was 21 years and my wife, my Soul Mate, after 35 years of marriage. She was shocked and she was deeply impressed. She wanted to understand how I dealt with a situation like that. What had happened to me was so much worse than in her case, she told me. She thought at that moment that she actually had no right to grief because the sadness of another was many times worse than hers.

She lost me for a moment. How can you even think like this? Finally I found the words. Mourning or grief is not a competition! One has not more or less grief than somebody else. It feels how it feels. It doesn’t matter how long it was ago and it doesn’t matter how long the duration of the relation was between them. Her sorrow was just as concrete and just as deep as mine. Who is the person that says there is a difference? There is no difference!

It doesn’t matter. Her sorrow was just as deep as mine. She felt a bit relieved, a bit happier. Her sorrow did not change but, more importantly it helped her to put things in a different perspective, to be able to talk about it and to share.

(2) A new experience

You would expect that after over 13 years after the loss of my daughter, let me say this carefully, would be less emotional than in the beginning.

Looking back to the period around my daughter’s death strange things happened. Things that I couldn’t really explain. On the one hand I had a lot of grief and, on the other I was arranging everything for her … without any feeling or emotion. I felt quite ambivalent at it, didn’t really understand what to do with it and how to respond.

Months later, little by little I was becoming myself again. The grief translated into the story about my daughter I told to anyone who was willing to listen. Well willing to listen … it turned out that one way or the other the conversation usually, consciously or unconsciously, turned around to my daughter.

You would expect that after over 13 years after the loss of my daughter, let me say this carefully, would be less emotional than in the beginning. On the contrary. Lately my daughter is almost daily in my mind and, and the mental image I have is as she was at the time. On the other hand, I am lately remembering less and less of her death and the days that followed. During those moments the brain turns out to be a beautiful thing; all emotions, colors, smells, heat, conversations, environments come available again with the smallest details as if it were photos or film clips… as if you are re-living it.

Do I find myself pathetic? No, on the contrary! I am rather proud that I was present at her death and that we had been able to say farewell to each other. Am I sad? Yeah sure, up to my death I suspect. I’m a happy man? Most definitely!