(86) Closure, a Follow Up…

Each of us experiences bereavement differently. For all of us the way we deal with bereavement is unique. And what’s more when you lose a child in my opinion you also lose a part of your future.


In my previous blog I described the closure of my bereavement regarding my wife’s death. In responses to the blog a valid question was raised: “And what about your daughter?”

Yes… what about my daughter?

Right now, I’m not sad about my daughter’s death in 2000. Yes, you’ll be thinking, at the time of writing it’s been 17 years ago. That’s a long time, hence it’s not surprising you’re not sad anymore about her death.

You may think this is bizarre… but, that I’m not sad about her death today is not because it’s a long ago. And yes, time doesn’t heal all wounds and certainly not this one. However, it’s not the time that passed… from my point of view it’s something completely different.

In my opinion, it’s because we knew from the day one that she wouldn’t live long. The pediatrician advised us not to mail her birth announcements. We did this anyway, she was born… so, it should be possible for her to live. During her life though, we regularly wondered if she would be able to celebrate her next birthday. In the end, she reached an age of over 21 years which is, although far too short to us, a respectable age for a person having Cystic Fibrosis. Our daughter knew and understood when she was eight years young that she wouldn’t live long. She made the decision to get everything out of her live that was humanly possible. And from my point of view, she succeeded absolutely.

Shortly before her death, our daughter told us that she would be very pleased when she finally could go Home. And we, although we would miss her a lot… we were happy for her too. Yes, it feels ambivalent… and it does. Certainly, for a stranger who doesn’t know or doesn’t understand our family.

Do I miss her? Yes and no! Yes, she’s no longer physically present and I’m not able to give her a hug anymore… like I used to do. And no, because I can often feel her presence and, one way or the other she writes sometimes a blog by using me, or we write a blog together.

For that reason alone, the closure of my grief due to her death is quite some time ago now. But sometimes… when I meet one of her friends… it’s tough again.

When I re-read the above, I understand why Irene, the author who responded to the Dutch version of my previous blog, feels the loss of her deceased son differently. He died unexpectedly. For that reason alone, her bereavement is different.

In my opinion, grief and the processing of grief is strongly dependent on how your dear one deceased. Was it suddenly or unexpected or, were you able to prepare for this over the years? Were you there during the death of your dear one, or were you told that the other died? Was the process of dying of your dear one a calm one… or, not? All these factors, and probably many more, influence how you experience your bereavement and how you deal with it.

Each of us experiences bereavement differently. For all of us the way we deal with bereavement is unique. And what’s more when you lose a child in my opinion you also lose a part of your future.

(83) Dilemmas

The dilemma at a choice between different interests with respect to dear ones could be that this requires key decisions from which future happiness depends. It is choosing between two dear worlds and you must make the best of it. Sometimes, afterwards, you regret your choice. But you can never know where that other choice would have lead to. Maybe you would’ve regret that choice too in the end. And at that moment, when the awareness is there, you suddenly step into a grieving process.


The past few blogs I’ve asked the readers if they could help me by providing me with their experiences they’ve had, experiences they are still going through perhaps and, what their opinion was about that. The story of one of the readers triggered something deep inside me. The blog is not just about her story alone, but also about others.

I would like to thank again all readers for their contribution.

What is the story about in this blog?

Kathy, a fictional name, and her partner have a son and a daughter who lead their lives for a long time.

The son lived alone and passed away a few years ago. The son had often visited his parents and his sister. Kathy and her partner took comfort in walking and music… and they took comfort from their daughter’s family. The daughter had much grief about the loss of her brother. From personal experience, I know all too well what the impact is when you lose a child. It doesn’t matter how you explain it, only people who have experienced this themselves will understand you. You’ll carry your sadness for the loss of a child for the rest of your life.

The daughter has a family and a child and lives abroad because of het partner’s work, it’s at about 6 hours flying distance. It’s a happy family. Despite all communication tools we have in our today’s world, Kathy misses direct contact with her daughter. The distance doesn’t make it easy either.

The daughter misses her brother, he often came to visit her. She also misses her parents and would love to have them living near her so they could see each other more often.

The relationship between Kathy and her mother was never optimal. Nevertheless, Kathy is doing a lion’s share of the care of her mother. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Kathy to keep it up. There are other family members who could help her mother. Her mother, however, considers it Kathy’s job to take care of her. Her mother doesn’t ask anything from the other family members.

When Kathy is with her mother, they never talk about Kathy’s deceased son. When Kathy is with her daughter, they can talk about him. Here Kathy feels herself complete again… as if her family is one tight set again.

Kathy and her partner are not one of the youngest anymore and have so their shortcomings. Moving to her daughter is not easy and how do you arrange the care for your mother? And all the acquaintances and friends that they have now… all those that you’re going to miss? It would be a whole new start… and that at her age.

And there you are… how to proceed from here?

Everyone wants everything from Kathy. If Kathy stays here for her mother, then Kathy will eventually blame her mother she can’t be with her daughter. When Kathy choses for her daughter then in the end, her mother will start complaining to Kathy she’s not with her.

An almost obvious question that is not asked to Kathy, in my point of view… “What does Kathy want?” In my opinion this a form of hidden loss and hidden grief, one of the variants of a mourning process.

What is it you want when you need to make such a choice… where nobody realizes what’s going on and because of that the question is not asked… or… is everyone afraid to ask that question to you? But most important is… “What do you want?”

The dilemma at a choice between different interests with respect to dear ones could be that this requires key decisions from which future happiness depends. It is choosing between two dear worlds and you must make the best of it. Sometimes, afterwards, you regret your choice. But you can never know where that other choice would have lead to. Maybe you would’ve regret that choice too in the end. And at that moment, when the awareness is there, you suddenly step into a grieving process.

A choice like that is rarely a simple one, but once made you should totally go for it. Never look back with the idea you should have taken the other choice. It’s about you and your partner and more important… it should feel if not great, it should feel good. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.

(78) Farewell

She was done with it. Her life had been a long struggle, a fight against that debilitating disease and against the ignorance of people. She was all done!


She was done with it. Her life had been a long struggle, a fight against that debilitating disease and against the ignorance of people. She was all done!

She had learned a lot in this life. That people couldn’t understand, or couldn’t accept how ill she was and how hard that was for her. Most just said that she was a beautiful young woman. Those people only saw the outside. Those people never saw who she really was.

Despite everything she had done during her life, she had made every effort within her capabilities. She had fought so hard to accomplish everything time and time again. She had learned a great deal in this life. It hadn’t been in vain.

There was nothing more for her to do. She had done everything she could do. She was ready to leave!

She had said her goodbyes to all her friends. That day had been tough for everyone. Not just to her friends and her family, but most of all to herself. She was tired. Soo very tired!

She was ready with her life here on Earth. She was ready for the journey. She wanted to go to that other side. She wanted to leave.

But, something held her back. She still hadn’t said her goodbyes to her mother… and… her father. They hadn’t yet given her permission to leave. They still couldn’t let her go.

She was so tired… real tired. She wanted so badly to start her journey. She was ready to go.

There came a moment, that the father said to the mother while their daughter was peacefully asleep and yet seemed to hear everything… There came a moment the father said that it was fine for him. That it was okay for her to go. That it didn’t matter how long it would still take for her to start her journey. It was all right!

The father went home. He was tired of managing all that was necessary so her friends could say their farewells. It had been one of the toughest tasks in his life. No one had any idea how cruel that task had been to him and how tired he was. Soo tired… dead tired.

As he drove home, she ‘joined’ him in the car to say her goodbye. She was happy that he allowed her to leave. Extremely happy. She was ready with her life on this Earth. She wanted so badly to leave for the other side where she could meet everyone again. Where it would be a feast for her. Without that sick body. Without all those limitations.

Yes, while he was driving home she came for him to say her farewell.

It was a great feeling. As if his daughter was again sitting next to him. He became peaceful… and that moment… she left.

The father was called. He should come to the hospital. It didn’t go well with her.

He saw his daughter in the arms of his wife. A heartbreaking mother… with a broken heart… her daughter had died in her arms.

He saw a joyful daughter in her arms.

A daughter who was so happy that she was finally on her way. That she was finally rid of that body she had struggled with all her life, that had caused her so many problems. That she had finished a life where so many hadn’t understood who she really was. She was so happy that she had got everything, really everything, out of her life that was ultimately and humanly possible for her… it was okay.

She was happy she was finally on her way. She is a happy… spirit!

(75) Impossible Choices

A choice that is made with love and that is accepted by all involved with their heart is not a choice at all… but a matter of course! To me that is unconditional love!


They love each other. But the thing is… her parents are not really happy with her relationship. They do not stand with her! And that she finds very difficult. She finds it difficult because she loves the other deeply… and she also wants her parents no sorrow because of her. She feels lonely… all alone… but she’s being forced to make one of the most difficult choices in her life.

A choice? Can you even speak of a choice in this case? Essentially it’s almost impossible to make a choice! After all, whatever the choice is, as long as it is not accepted by all involved with their heart (emotionally), there always will be people who consciously or unconsciously do not agree with it.

How often does it happen that you have a bad feeling about the choice that was made… but you don’t understand why? How often does it happen… that you are aware that you do not agree with the choice made? In all these cases, loss, whether it’s hidden or not, plays an important role in our life. Loss that translates itself into helplessness, sadness and in extreme cases even into bereavement.

One way or the other, we always have to be aware of that loss before we can accept it. And with that we end up in one of the many variations of processing grief. It also means that in this particular case loss has a (completely) different meaning for all involved. Because of that each person involved processes the resulting grief in a different way.

An illustrative example.

They both agree that they get divorced.

They both used to work at the same company and when at home they could discuss what they experienced during the day. They were a happy couple. She started to work with another company. A company where everything that was carried out was confidential and one was not allowed to discuss this with other people. Their relationship started to deteriorate because of that. She, on the other hand, was pushing hard to maintain their relationship on the level it used to be. He was promoted and the company needed him to work abroad for prolonged periods. The job required to work closely with others, so closely that a relationship emerged with one of the staff.

The both agree that they get divorced… but for different reasons. He, because he felt he couldn’t close the gap between his wife and himself. She, because he was cheating her.

Processing their grief will be different for each of them. Not just because they have different personalities and cultural backgrounds, but also because the staring points of their loss (the divorce) is different.

Now back to the choice at the beginning of this blog.

Every person is responsible for their own choices. But the other one, who loves her deeply… can only observe with all the love that person has… and can only be there for the one who makes the choice. Whatever you may think of this, however deeply they love each other, it’s my opinion that you are never allowed to influence the choice of your loved one. The parents are important too. And it’s my opinion that also the parents are not allowed to influence the choice of their daughter when it relates to love. Whatever happens, they may only observe and be there for her.

Isn’t it sad? On the one hand you do not want to grieve your parents and on the other hand you do not want to lose your loved one. You’re in a dilemma… it’s just not fair… it’s hardly possible to make a choice. And… should you even make a choice?

shutterstock_223648765The person who makes the choice, should do this with the heart. And it doesn’t matter how bad it is for the others… they are only allowed to watch and be there. For one thing is sure, when they interfere with the choice it’s my opinion that that choice is the wrong one.  Either the relationship ends or… the relationship will be infected one way or the other with the choice that was made… or there is a feeling that choice is enforced by one of the persons that are involved. The person who makes the choice should be able to do this freely, with the heart and without influence from anybody.

When everyone involved cannot accept the choice that was made with their heart then it’s my opinion that every person involved will end up with a mourning process from bewilderment through helplessness, awareness and hopefully understanding to a kind of acceptance. Because one way or the other, whatever the choice is that was made, the relationship with her and her loved one is damaged. And, also the relationship with her and her parents is damaged.

We really don’t think about it when we make these kind of decisions. Whatever the choice is, relationships will never be the same again. It’s my point of view that when this kind of choice is either influenced or enforced you cannot speak of true love between the one who makes the choice and the one who influenced whether it is the loved one or (one of) the parents. It is certainly not fair to the one who was “forced” to make the choice… and not only that… this person is scarred for life!

The alternative… a choice that is made with love and that is accepted by all involved with their heart is not a choice at all… but a matter of course! To me that is unconditional love!

(64) Unconditional Acceptance

At first unconditional acceptance is not directed to the other, but to yourself. When you fully trust yourself and accept completely who you are including all your limitations, only then you are able to accept another unconditionally.

Onvoorwaardelijke acceptatie - shutterstock_223911598 - reducedOn the Internet you can find many definitions of acceptance. The definition of acceptance that comes closest to the intention of this month’s blog is, in my opinion, unquestionable.

In our daily practice we often accept events without really thinking about it. For example, the queue at the cash register, or a traffic jam, or a delay in the public transport.

It also happens that we accept under certain conditions. You’ve put your heart into the making of a meal for a special occasion. When buying the necessary ingredients, you may find these not good enough or maybe even too expensive. At that (same) moment you may consider how to prepare that meal in a different way.

We also say that we accept a situation, but in reality we don’t. How often does one hear at funerals people saying to the widow(er) that they will come and see him or her, or that he or she must join them for dinner. The thing is, it hardly happens. In comparison the phrase “a ceiling made from glass” which is in use in companies, I use the phrase “a door made from glass” for people who lost a dear one. People accept that the relation between you and your partner doesn’t exist anymore, and yet… they avoid you.

Unconditional means without conditions or without making demands. Unconditional also means without limitation, or without consideration, or without hesitation. Sometimes it also means blindly, or absolute, or pure.

Acceptance is not simple in itself, but when it is unconditional it becomes very difficult. What about for example “I accept you unconditional!” In other words, “I accept you without hesitation and consideration who you are, what you are, and what you have done and do. It doesn’t matter, I accept you blindly without any limitation… always!”

You might say “Yes, but, experience or history taught…” When you say words like these then at that same moment you don’t accept unconditional.

Maybe you can define unconditional acceptance also as pure love. A form of love that is attributed to the very Highest in believe systems. That doesn’t mean that unconditional acceptance is impossible for us humans… on the contrary. It may not be pure, but some of us come very close. Think for instance at the love of a mother for her child. Or think of the unconditional acceptance of two lovers; lovers who trust each other blindly.

At first unconditional acceptance is not directed to the other, but to yourself. When you fully trust yourself and accept completely who you are including all your limitations, only then you are able to accept another unconditionally. That is quite a bit!

Two lovers who trust each other blindly come, in my opinion, regarding unconditional acceptance a long way. And the deeper their relation becomes the closer those people come to the real meaning of unconditional acceptance of each other. Isn’t that awesome!

However, how awesome this is for these two people, when such a relation is broken for whatever reason, the grief of such a loss is immeasurable. The processing of that grief will take “a while.” It may be even the case that at some point in time others are beginning to wander why the grief has not been processed. But on the other hand those others should also be able to accept that (unconditional).