(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.

(73) You Thought It Was Over…

Suddenly there are those memories of that moment… that moment that felt like your world was destroyed. Suddenly you’re back to square one. You thought it was over.


Suddenly there are those memories of that moment… that moment that felt like your world was destroyed. You’re back to square one again. You thought it was over.

At the start of your grief or your loss – that period immediately after the death of your loved one, or the loss of the job you so loved to do, or your illness that can’t be cured – that period just after that intense loss… that period in which you felt that intense raw pain of your loss… at such a moment you are off balance and you are almost at risk to fall over. A period in which you would like to reset the clock. A period in which you would love everything was as before. A period in which you would prefer to crawl into a safe haven. A period in which you withdraw into yourself.

Je dacht dat het over wasAs time goes on you start to scramble out eventually… little by little. You are beginning to get involved again with everything that people around you are doing. In the end you start a number of activities yourself. Hesitantly… step by step.

You’re insecure. For how to proceed… alone… or without that job… or… You’re afraid that you will make mistakes. Now… you need to do or to arrange activities you never needed to do before… you may never have wanted to do. Yes, you expect to make mistakes, but the people around you have a different opinion. The people around you find you powerful… but… that’s not the way how you feel this.

Despite all your grief you proceed step by step… you have to. And with each step you get a little bit more confident.

There are moments you’re going too fast. Something unexpected happens that evokes a memory… like a smell, a color, a voice, a sound… a memory related to that loss. And again the realization that you must proceed alone… or that you don’t have that special job any more… or that you will not heal… or… Again you hit that loss… and you start all over again with your bereavement.

That falling back, repeats itself regularly during the processing of your grief. And each time you may recognize somehow all stages of grief like denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Over time you less and less fall back. Each time this happens it feels a bit different from the one before. The harsh pain of your grief is slowly changing into the moderate pain of your loss. Not that you won’t be remembered of your loss anymore… that your loved one is no longer there. That memory remains with you for the rest of your life.

Little by little you get into balance again. Your heart and your head are starting to balancing each other out. The days return when you are happy again. Days where people can hear you laughing again. Moments that are a delight to you.

During those days something can happen that recalls a memory… like a face, a voice, a melody, a perfume, an image… a memory of that moment when it all started. You can’t see it coming, it just happens to you. And the process repeats itself again. Only each time a bit different. That is processing your grief. That’s the way it feels. Step by step.

When you can review yourself over a longer period of time you could find that each time you fall back… you fall back a bit less in your grief… and at the same time you might see that you also moved on a bit further… and that you became more confident.

Independent from how far you progressed in processing your grief, there will always be moments in your future where you revert to that moment when it all happened. The difference is that when your loss occurred it took a long time to proceed while processing your grief, in the future it will take less time. Eventually those moments change from sadness into moments where you can be proud at yourself because you came at a point at which you can proceed with your life. That you are carrying out new and different activities. That you have got new opportunities. That you are a complete human being again, which you always have been only you thought differently, who has an idea that everything in life happens as you think it should happen. Those are the days when you are in balance.

It might be challenging times for you at the moment or you have to cope somehow with a (great) loss in your life. Yet, I have faith you can become a happy person again who can smile and celebrate life. Maybe not in my way, but certainly in your way!

(59) Listen To Your Heart

I didn’t see it coming. Based on the questions I got during the various examinations, I slowly discovered that all kinds of complaints I used to have could be related to problems with my heart. The moments I had those complaints though, I thought the cause was related to the job, the many hours I worked, the stress, the trips I made and the fatigue as a result of this. No moment I was considering I had a problem with my heart.

shutterstock_176080721During communication training sessions and during spiritual gatherings you often hear the phrase “listen to your heart.” In contrast with your thinking, your head, your feelings are meant. My best days turn out to be those days when my feelings and my thinking are in balance. Some people swear by it and others find it rubbish or even vague. But that aside.

The phrase “listen to your heart” has also an interpretation that is overlooked by many people. An interpretation in the literal sense of… How is your heart beating? Does it beat regular? Not too fast or not too slow? Do you hear some noise maybe? Is your blood pressure fine? Are you easily tired or out of breath? Don’t you fancy anything to do or don’t you get anything done?

It happened to me. On a sunny morning that promised much for the day, I woke up and lazily stretched myself. Bang it did on the left side of my chest. It didn’t even really hurt, but it did feel annoying. During my life I’ve felt worse pain; those moments I took a painkiller and after a short time everything was fine again. This time I took a painkiller too and during the day I forgot about the pain.

The next morning I woke up again with that little bit of pain on the left side of my breast. Furthermore I had dreamt that night that I would die in a couple of months. In the preceding weeks I had that dream more often. Only this time the dream was more insistent, as if it was a last warning. Still today, this dream is very clear in my mind.

People often dream. Me too, but the difference is that each time I can remember my dream the next day in all its details, it is a portentous dream to me. Yes you can laugh about it, but those type of dreams most of the time turned out to be true.

Because of the seriousness of the dream, in combination with the pain in my chest, I decided to call the family doctor. After some explanation I could come for a consultation immediately. From the examination the doctor could hear some noise from the heart and I was referred to a center for cardiologic examinations were I also could go to immediately. That same day I was admitted into hospital and almost 5 weeks later I came home again after having had two open heart operations. As soon as my breast bone is completely healed a heart revalidation process starts that takes weeks, maybe months.

The 5 stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) of Elisabeth Kübler Ross’ process of mourning.

Not everybody may agree with me, but for me it is comparable with bereavement. It is the same quest from denial to acceptance and again a central theme with questions like: do I become my old self again, because this moment, two weeks after the last operation, it doesn’t feel that way. And if not, what are my limitations? In short, how to proceed from here?

At this moment I have no idea how to proceed. When there is one thing I have learned in the past, is to adopt a positive attitude. And today I learn and have learned again that your attitude not only strongly determines how you walk through your process of grieving, but also determines the speed at which you go through the grieving process. The faster you go through the process the sooner you can go on with your life; not only that, it also improves your healing process. It is said in a few words, but it does the job; I know it all too well from experience. It’s like a dance, two steps ahead and one back. Eventually you will arrive where you should be.

I didn’t see it coming. Based on the questions I got during the various examinations, I slowly discovered that all kinds of complaints I used to have could be related to problems with my heart. The moments I had those complaints though, I thought the cause was related to the job, the many hours I worked, the stress, the trips I made and the fatigue as a result of this. No moment I was considering I had a problem with my heart.

Let this be a warning to you. Listen to your heart! In particular when you feel quickly tired or you are short of breath! In particular when you don’t get anything done! Especially when you have pain in your breast, even if it’s just a little bit! Discuss it with your family doctor. It could happen to you too that you be at home again after days, if not even weeks.