(51) Wish

(UK-51) Post ImageI wish…
that everybody…
and everything that lives…
here on Earth…
as well as in all Universes that exist…
apart from any faith you may have…
will know peace and happiness…
and have the wisdom to see the good things in life.

I also wish,
That everyone who mourns, can take comfort from the understanding that grief cannot exist when there was no love.

(49) ‘There Is No Way To Happiness, Happiness Is The Way’ (The Buddha)

It’s about the road and the way, it’s there where it happens. Those beautiful flowers, or that naughty child, or the smile by just anyone. That’s what it’s about.

El CaminoI was visiting a friend who just returned from her two-month pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. The hike to Santiago is also called ‘el camino de Santiago’ which translates as ‘the road to Santiago’.

In 2008 I hiked ‘el camino’ myself, and while talking with my friend and looking at the pictures I was engulfed by the memories of my own Camino. I expect that anyone who hikes the Camino enjoys the simplicity and love that is there for the picking. You don’t even need to collect this because you can’t escape it. Life is about food, sleeping, walking, and communicating with your fellow pilgrims. Inevitably you run into inconveniences and confrontations but those are also easily and quickly resolved. I strongly experienced that I felt being carried by everything around me. No one wonders what your origin or position is. But what is important: what motivates you, what brings you here, what do you want to experience and what you do experience. To ask for help or support is not needed, it’s all around you. Life flows all by itself.

It’s about the way, where it happens. The colour of the earth and the landscape is changing while you walk and every day there are new encounters and challenges. Every encounter gives you something new inspired by each other and the surroundings of that moment; there’s so much recognition. That there is so much recognition, I think, is because we walk in the same direction.

Everyday’s life is no different, we all actually walk in the same direction. We all do it on our own way, but when you really communicate with each other than those different ways turn out to be very recognizable, they appear to be based on the same reasons.

The Camino taught me the simplicity of life. During two months the content of my backpack were my only possessions. And I was lacking nothing. Well, sometimes I longed for a hot bath, but then I promptly found one on my path.

Actually we all have the same goal and that is to be happy. Happiness is not in finding money, position or status or power. Wouldn’t it be great that we all would come to understand that life is actually quite simple. That there are no differences at all and that we all can be happy in a very simple way on the way to where we are travelling to. Listen carefully to the other, he may have a hidden message for you which exactly could be what you need at that moment. Live in simplicity, full with respect and love for each other without any distinction in status or origin.

It’s about the road and the way, it’s there where it happens. Those beautiful flowers, or that naughty child, or the smile by just anyone. That’s what it’s about.

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.

(40) Why can I not forget?

Apparently I can’t forget and accept everything because something deep down in my soul was hurt.

My mother met a man with whom she ended up together; my father was deceased over 20 years by then. I was 22, studied at the university and until then I was the man in the house. It took some time in the beginning to get used to the new situation at home, but that quickly changed. He not only gave rest in the place, but I didn’t have to be the man in the house no longer and got more time for my studies. His children were already married. He had two sons and a daughter and I wasn’t the only child anymore. With his sons I got on well and we did a lot of things together. Life was good.

I met a beautiful and amazing wife.. we got married… I graduated and got a challenging international job… we got our first child, a daughter. Despite she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (a genetic disease) shortly after her birth and because we had to deal with the acceptance by our families of that, we were all in all a happy family.

It happened after a dinner at one of the son’s places. His wife made a comment to me that our daughter is very lucky with parents like us because we were able to deal with her disease. The other son and his wife wouldn’t be able to do so, she said. About her own family she wisely didn’t say a word. It took me by surprise and I didn’t know how to respond at that moment. On the one hand it was a compliment… I do realize now, but at that moment it felt as an insult after everything we had experienced with all the families after my daughter’s birth. It became quiet and we decided to go home.

The relationship between us and the son and his wife chilled. My mother and my stepfather felt that something had happened between us and his son, but they didn’t pursue this further. Because my mother and my stepfather had a particular good relationship with each other we didn’t tell them what had happened; we didn’t want to come between their relationship.

Life went on. We were sad and we were happy. Life could be as violent as a roller coaster and in other times nothing could go wrong. When we were asked what we would do if we had the choice to start life all over again, then we answered without hesitation that we would make the same choices again.

But… why can’t I forget that comment of that woman?

While writing, I realize I have forgiven her that comment. But apparently I can’t forget and accept everything because something deep down in my soul was hurt.

(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.

(1) How it Started

My daughter died, at the time I’m writing this, about 13 years ago at an age of 21. She had Cystic Fibrosis, not sure if you are familiar with this genetic disease, but on average these patients die on a (very) young age. She knew she was dying and during the last weeks we (my daughter, my wife, the hospital staff and me) talked on what to do in the future. She would love that I would use my knowledge and experience as Management Consultant not so much in Health Care but in supporting or coaching and guiding people who lost a child or a dear mate; not sure if “mate” is the proper word here but I hope you understand what I try to say.

My wife and Soul Mate died about 2½ years ago. In the week before I received a card from a woman I had coached in which she stated that she found me an amazing and wonderful light on her path of life. I still remember our discussion, just a few days before she died, in which she suggested and even pushed me that this type of coaching should become my future path of life.

Earlier this year I retired after a great professional life which had only one downside; I completely lost count on how many times I travelled around the world, the places I have seen and the sheer amount of hotels I have slept in. But the effect on me personally was that I consider myself not as a Dutchman, not even as a European but much more as global person.

After my retirement my body was real tired and wanted to recover from all the stress and all the loss I had met. As a Management Consultant and as a Project Manager I was always aware of the fun and the stress around. I could always see this with other people but somehow I did not see these things for me personally. Until I discovered by happenstance that my process of mourning finally had started … after years.

You are not alone in this and through this blog I want to share with you the journey I made and am still making. I want to share with you the lessons I have learned and am still learning. Through this blog I want to set up a Foundation, my dream actually, that should be able to help others in coping with their loss and in guiding or supporting them with their process of mourning.

It is Obvious that this is not a one-man show. I cannot change the World in my own, but I can start with myself and hopefully others too and that they will spread the news. You never know what is in store in the future for us but I do hope we make a difference albeit it is a small one.