(101) As if it should have been the case

On 3 December 2018 the Mourn & Grief Foundation (the Foundation) celebrated its fifth anniversary. Yes, 5 years already, time flies.

The Mourn & Grief Foundation is one of the results of the fulfillment of the last wish of my daughter Anne Birgit, when she died in 2000 at the age of 21 years young. She wanted me to use my experience to help people to deal with their grief. The moment, when I promised her to realize her wish, I can still remember clearly, as if it had happened yesterday. But at the time I had no idea what it would mean for me personally. Let alone that I had an idea of how I could make the turnaround from managing complex multidisciplinary projects to helping people with bereavement, but I rarely shy away from challenges. A once made promise is “sacred to me”, especially when it concerns the fulfillment of your daughter’s last wish.

Just before her death in 2011, Mary-Anne, my wife, insisted on realizing our daughter’s last wish.

It lasted until 2013 though, before I had the guts to start fulfilling my promise. In retrospect, that long period was necessary. In that period I was allowed to manage complex international projects with a sometimes impossible high workload. The employees came from all over the world, with different backgrounds, languages, cultures and different interpretations of words, opinions and concepts. The same was true for the customers for whom we worked. After the death of Mary-Anne, in the years that followed, I was increasingly longer and further away from home. It seemed like I was fleeing in my work. It was not only fleeing, it was also a challenge. During that period I mainly managed people in the most diverse situations … it was also the period I was able to create my golden teams. As if it should have been the case … that period turned out to be a preparation for the last wish of my daughter Anne Birgit, the experience gained was how to deal with the most diverse people.

In the summer of 2013 I finally started writing about my grief and my bereavement. It was also the time I happened to see articles of Gijsbert van Es about bereavement in the Dutch national news paper NRC. The central theme of Gijsbert’s articles was how 10 to 15 years later people dealt with their loss of a loved one. In the run-up to the interview at the end of 2013, ideas also emerged about how I could fulfill the promise to my daughter. The result was that in December 2013 the Mourn & Grief Foundation was established and an interview by Gijsbert in the NRC was published about how I dealt with my grief 13 years after the death of my daughter and how I wanted to realize her last wish. As if it should have been the case … at that moment pieces of the puzzle fell into place.

In 2013 the starting point for the Foundation was described in 2013 as:

“The personal loss that people have can hardly be imagined other than by those who have experienced this earlier and are willing to share the lessons they have learned,  and to show that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel.”

A few years later I found that the light at the end of the tunnel is not important, but the light that is in yourself. That light in yourself is important, however, and it will always bring you to safety.

In the summer of 2017 I noticed that I had arrived at a point where I could actually say that I had let go my deceased loved ones and that they could continue on their path in the universe where they were at the time. I can no longer feel their presence, but in one way or another I realize that we always stay connected. At the same time, my feeling also clearly indicated that although my bereavement  was over, but that in my opinion this would never be completed. There are still times when I think back to Anne Birgit and Mary-Anne, my sadness then feels like a soft pain.

What I also discovered that summer was that I skipped unnecessary hassle, nonsense conversations or nonsense discussions. It felt like I had to compress a completely new life on that part of my life’s path on which I walked then. It also became clear to me that using all the lessons I had learned, I could definitely continue with a life of joy, opportunity and, above all, new challenges.

Now, in December 2018, my experience and the image of that summer in 2017 have only been strengthened. Almost every day I am amazed by the new opportunities and possibilities that I encounter on my life’s path. As if it should have been the case … personnaly, it is a confirmation that the Foundation’s approach has worked for me … and at the same time it is a confirmation to me that I am working on the correct things.

In retrospect, yes easily said when most is done … in retrospect, I have become stronger … and during the processing of grief it is not just about grief … but also about love, joy and happiness.

(68) Light

Someone informed me that I should bring people to the light. I was speechless and got goosebumps all over my body.

Someone recently asked me if I was working with older people. “No,” was my response, “I’ve mostly worked with young people at my work. Why the question?” The person informed me that I should bring people to the light. I was speechless and got goosebumps all over my body. Many questions came up in my mind. The most important ones to me were “who am I” and “why me” and “why only older people?” Questions I couldn’t raise at that moment, let alone to understand the answers. At that moment my attitude was like… “come on” … “not right now” … or “act normal and stay on the ground with both feet.”

The message kept haunting me in the following days. Questions like… what if… and how… Most people who know me, know me really well, would say “He was able to solve most problems in his life so far. He will be able to solve this one too.” Thank you for your trust in me, but… personally I’ve a completely different opinion about this topic.

I’ve tried to ignore the message completely; it was impossible!

That’s why I will give it a try nevertheless and I also hope to take you on this journey of discovery. It would make my day when you provide me with your comments so I can keep staying on the ground with both feet.

In addition to the physical meaning light has also an emotional meaning in our language. At one extreme of the balance with The Light a reference is made to the warm and divine light of the Almighty. The other extreme of the balance is dominated by the gloomy light, as the light in dark cloudy weather that makes you almost sad or depressive. And somewhere in the middle of the balance has light, as when the Sun is shining, the meaning of joy, cheerful, loving, understanding and freedom.

Just to be clear, I actually don’t know what, who, or where the loving light of the Almighty is, but I have a strong feeling that it would be great to be in The Light. What is also clear to me is that The Light is not in our world; when that would be the case our world would have been much more peaceful with infinitely more love between people than we experience today.

And, how should I interpret in the message the word “bring?” Does it mean that I only prepare the “journey” for the person concerned and that he or she “travels” all alone? Or, is it the intention that I should accompany the person concerned on his or her “journey”; from home to The Light so to say?

In my culture we have concepts as: palliative care, euthanasia and terminal care. In this context in my opinion the “journey” of the person concerned is arranged partly and/or the person is accompanied for a part of the “journey.” People working in this field are very empathic; I have a lot of appreciation and great respect for them.

Yet I have a strong feeling that personally I shouldn’t seek for solutions towards palliative care, euthanasia and terminal care. What is more, I’m not even capable to freely travel at will between our world in which we live and the world of The Light of the Almighty.

It’s all very frustrating. Nevertheless, I can’t ignore the message and have a very strong feeling that I need to find a solution to this issue.

(UK-51) Post ImageBut, maybe I can consider this in a much more pragmatic way? In other words, much lighter. You can also guide and coach people from the dark gloomy light, where people are sad, to the joyful light somewhere half way the balance where people are happy again. When I approach it in this way then I can help translating sadness or grief into joy. Then I can help people to obtain new insights while removing the sharp edges of their grief so they can continue with their life. Yes, in this way I can bring and guide people to the light in our world. That would be awesome; both for me and for those involved.