(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.

(85) Closure

With the closure of my grief, I would also like to tell you that bereavement is not only about grief, loss and sadness… but also about joy and happiness.


In my first blog, I wrote that you’re not the only one who must deal with grief one way or the other. I wanted to share with you the journey I had made so far because of the loss of my daughter and my wife. I also wanted to share with you the lessons I had learned in the hope that you might be able to apply these to yourself.

In the 72th blog, I looked back over a period of almost 3 years and described how I was consciously and unconsciously processing grief. Looking back, I realized at the time that the raw pain of grief had changed into the soft pain of sadness, that I had found new opportunities on my path and that despite my sadness I had become a happy person again.

When publishing the 84th blog, it became clear to me that it was OK to be sad… because my wife had died… and I missed her. But, I should let her go in order to be able to get on with my life! And not only that, I also should fully accept the person I am deep inside including all limitations and possibilities! In retrospect, I also realized that I had changed so much that deep inside me I had become silent… almost serene.

With the publication of this blog, I’ve come to a point where I truly can say that I did let go my deceased wife and because of that she is able to continue her path in the universe where she is right now. Although I can’t feel her presence anymore, somehow, I understand that we always will remain connected with each other.

At the time of writing, my feeling clearly indicates that my grief has come to a closure. However, it’s my opinion that it never will come to a finality. There will always be moments in the future that I recall my late wife. During those moments however, my sadness will not hurt me anymore. A partner will understand that and will be there for me during those moments… just as I will be there for her.

The serene silence inside me, I wrote about in my previous blog, is still there. Although at the time of writing it feels more like… inner peace. Probably that’s because I truly accepted who I am… with all my abilities… and all my limitations. I also notice that I, much more than I used to do so… that I ignore unnecessary hassle, nonsense conversations and nonsense topics. It feels as if I need to squeeze a full new life into that part of my path of life that I’m walking right now. It’s obvious to me that while using all lessons I’ve learned I can finally continue with a life full of happiness, opportunities and most of all new challenges.

With the closure of my grief, I would also like to tell you that bereavement is not only about grief, loss and sadness… but also about joy and happiness.

(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.

(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!

(58) Would You Call My Friends

Some three or four days before her death she asked me whether I would call her friends so she could say her final farewell to them that Saturday. It is not a questions you would easily answer with yes or no. And yet, I did this for her because I had a gut feeling that the end of her life was approaching much faster than we wanted it to but also because I understood it was important to her.

Anne BirgitThis post is about the days just before the death of my daughter Anne Birgit.

Yes, I hear you thinking:
“You have written several times about this topic. So, what is different now? That you are sad… I understand… it’s part of your future that you’re missing… it is your buddy that you are missing… but… after almost 15 years…?

That our daughter wouldn’t live long, we knew one day after her birth. Year after year we lived with the thought that it might be her last one. Ultimately after almost 22 years, it was clear that she wouldn’t live much longer anymore. Her end came closer faster and faster. We all were aware of that… especially my daughter.

That her death was inevitable, I had accepted long ago. We had lived with this for almost 22 years.

Yes, it is different. Now… I understand.

Some three or four days before her death she asked me whether I would call her friends so she could say her final farewell to them that Saturday. It is not a questions you would easily answer with yes or no. And yet, I did this for her because I had a gut feeling that the end of her life was approaching much faster than we wanted it to but also because I understood it was important to her.

Today I understand that I received a lot of support from my guardian angels. Yes, you can laugh at this, or you can dismiss it but for me it is the truth. Where else do you draw the strength from for calling each of her friends and ask them to visit her a few days later in order to say a final farewell to each other.

There were calls that took more than an hour. There were calls, with the in one hand the phone I was using and in the other hand my mobile to make an emergency call in case her friend I was talking to did not respond anymore. They were all calls where you literally caught people by surprise with your request. What is still clear in my mind even though I did not know many of her friends personally, even after 15 years, was that these calls were very personal, emotional, warm and heartbreaking. My daughter wanted to witness the last two or three calls imagine my daughter’s emotions and mine. There were many tears during those 32 calls.

Calls of which I have always said after the death of my daughter… once, but never again. Calls of which no one has any idea what it meant for me and what it took from me. No one can even closely imagine my pain and distress brought on by those calls. Calls that took an enormous amount of energy from me and at the time I didn’t understand where I got the strength.

Maybe you find this all exaggerated… maybe even presumptuous, but the fact is that words… my words… are by far unable to describe what I felt at the time… and not even close to how I feel to-day.

These are moments in your life I always remember. And when I look back after 15 years, those calls give me much more pain and distress than the death of my daughter. Yes, she was terminally ill. That she had not much time to live there was no doubt about it. Although I’ve accepted her death years ago, the hurt related to placing the calls to her friends in order to say a final farewell to her personally, is still there in great fierceness. Maybe as I realize now; now, after 15 years I realize that at the end of each call, it felt for me as if my daughter died at that moment… and I died a bit also.

That, I think, is the reason why it still hurts.

The calls I made out of love for my daughter; just like everybody else would have done when they are needed to make calls like these for his or her partner or for one of their children. This month’s post is dedicated to them and I wish them a lot of support and strength in particular.