(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.

(81) Insecurity

The first lesson I want to share with you is that I’m preparing myself for the worst case that can happen to me. I’ve always done that in my life. And anything that can be deleted from my list during the coming months and weeks are an improvement… as if it’s a small event that can be celebrated.


The contribution of this blog was delayed by about a week. Unfortunately, there was a reason for that.

It seems like I’m sitting in roller-coaster again lately: sharp curves, loopings, and steeply going up and down with high speeds. I realize that on the one hand it sounds exciting and the other hand it has something like… what are talking about and what is the emotion that dominates? Is it fear… or is it anger about a possible loss?

Personally, I’ve an idea how long I’ve left to live. I expect that more people have an estimate about how old the will become. But even if you don’t have, how do you respond when you are being told that that moment could sooner than you would expect… even much earlier? That you are told it would be good to prepare for this. How would you respond? What will do in the mean time?

What would you do if you were told that due to a medical procedure there’s a high risk of paralysis of parts of your body or a damage to your brains? And how would you prepare for this?

What would you still like to achieve in your life? You even may have a bucket-list with everything you want to do that is important to you. How would you deal with those items… you can’t do any more… no matter how much you would like to do so?

For me personally these are no imaginary questions. These are concrete questions I need to answer because there’s an aneurysm in my aorta which needs to be removed at some point of time. So yes, again I’m sitting in a roller-coaster: sharp curves, loopings, and steeply going up and down with high speeds! And yes, I’m afraid of about what can happen when I’m not able to make decisions anymore… and anger about topics that are on my bucket-list but can’t realize anymore.

Well, there you are…

It took a while but in the meantime the calm has returned in my head again… although it’s a different kind of calmness… it feels as acceptance, surrender and above all an in and in deep tranquility. And I notice that with this kind calmness… I’m starting to change again! I can’t really explain this, perhaps never, but the change feels very delightful. It’s like that old coat that feels so comfy when you put it on again.

My interest and attention begins to focus more and more on those things that really do matter in life. The is ballast to me and a waste of time. Wow… I’m behaving like my daughter! She did so too during her short life.

I’m using more and more my gut feeling ans start to discover that my soul is in communication with my brain and my heart and when in harmony we can do great things together. The future will teach me what those great things will be. And I expect that the lessons I will learn based on the possible consequences of the coming surgeries will play a major role.

As with the loss of a loved one you also meet people who tell you it’s not all that bad. People who have no idea what it’s about and at the same are telling you shouldn’t treat it so gloomy. You come across people who withdraw themselves when they start to understand what is going to happen to you. And fortunately, you also meet people who are ready to support you one way or the other and are even disappointed when you keep them off somewhat.

On the other hand, and it even may sound bizarre to you, I believe that the aneurysm in my aorta and the removal of this has prompted me into new learning curves. One curve on which I learn how to deal with the fact that the end of my life on Earth could be much closer than I would expect. And a learning curve where I learn what else I could do when it’s impossible to realize all topics on my bucket-list.

The first lesson I want to share with you is that I’m preparing myself for the worst case that can happen to me. I’ve always done that in my life. And anything that can be deleted from my list during the coming months and weeks are an improvement… as if it’s a small event that can be celebrated.

It goes without saying that the above experiences and preparations are different for each of us. Yet, during the coming months I’m going to share my experiences with you in the hope you can use these somehow when you find yourself in a similar situation.

I would like to hear your experiences and opinions on this topic. Would you help me with this?

(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!

(74) Communication

When you want to communicate with a grieving person you will need to embrace her or him figuratively, you have to listen carefully to the other, you need to understand what is said and you have to show interest in the other. What is more, topics could be discussed which you personally may find difficult to talk about.


The way we mourn or grieve is unique for each of us. Standard solutions are not available for bereavement or for people who find themselves in difficult situations outside their control. But the first thing we need to do, in order to reach out to or to help these people, is to be able to communicate with them.

Provided that someone who grieves or is in a difficult situation is able to talk to you or even is willing to talk to you, you can safely assume that it won’t be an everyday conversation with each other, but that it’s much more about to let the other do the talking about the issues that she or he finds important at that moment. During those moments you will need to be able to show a lot of understanding… a lot of insight of the problems the other is coping with… that you especially have a lot of empathy and… maybe even a good dose of patience. You also need to be able to cope with the (long) silences that fall into the “conversation.”

SJR (NL-077) en MGF (UK-074) shutterstock_163706276What is more, during a conversation with a grieving person charged topics can be often touched upon. Topics of which we have a preference in our culture not to talk about. Topics such as death, life after death, faith and the loss of the other and all the emotions that go along with it. Topics of which you may have opinions of your own. And your opinions aren’t necessarily aligned to those of the other.

In a nutshell, if you really want to communicate with a grieving person you will need to embrace her or him figuratively… you have to listen carefully to the other… and you need to understand what is said… you have to show interest in the other. What is more, topics could be discussed of which you personally may find difficult to talk about. And that is exactly the problem in communicating with people who grieve.

It’s too crazy for words that it often turns out that communication between people is inconvenient or difficult at times. How often do you find that the other understood your message differently than you actually meant it to be… that you didn’t understand the other… or that without further asking you assumed you understood the other? Yes… it’s too crazy for words… we learned very early on how to talk and to communicate. We all should be experts in this field, the thing is… why isn’t that the case?

It would be a major step for all of us when we would learn how to communicate with each other in a better or more effective way. It’s something we can use almost every day and every moment. Communication is not just about the words we say to each other, it’s also about the long silences or… the not telling and the poses of our body that sends silent messages to the other. Communication is also about learning to understand each other, to have empathy for each other and… to accept who we are! Communication also means that we don’t avoid difficult situations (anymore) but that we are willing to communicate with someone who struggles in life or we offer support.

Perhaps at this time it’s too much to ask in our world… but nevertheless… I believe that we must dare to face the challenge together!

Personally I’m committed to this challenge. No matter how hard I find a conversation, I always try to learn from it so I can do better next time. It comes with much trials and errors… but I keep pushing myself to improve!

(72) My Journey from Grief to Sorrow

While I was processing my grief in the past period consciously and unconsciously, I can now see the huge change I’ve made. A change that transformed the raw pain from my grief into the forgiving pain of my sorrow. In addition, I have found new opportunities on my path and despite my sorrow I became a happy person again. In retrospect I can conclude that what I have achieved now and the way I feel now … I couldn’t even imagine that in my wildest dreams three years ago!


In my first blog, on the 23rd of September 2013, I mentioned that you are not alone in processing your grief in some way. I also informed you that I want to share with you the lessons I have learned and am still learning during my personal journey of bereavement. Yes, that was then.

At the moment, that is the 15th of June 2016, it’s almost three years later and from my point of view it is a perfect moment to review what happened in the meantime and, what lessons we could learn from this.

Should I make a comment against your preconceived notions, your beliefs or violate personal beliefs, accept what is true for you and let the rest go.

When you read my latest blogs, I’m also using a spiritual approach. With spiritual I do not mean that mediums are telling me the messages that deceased dear ones are giving to me… no… not that way! Practical as I am I cannot do much with such messages. Everyone knows that no matter how well we do our best, communication between people is difficult to say the least… let alone between a deceased dear one and we as human beings. That is why I try to get to the core of such messages to see whether I can do something with it in a very Earth like and in a for me very practical way. My blog titled Light is such an example.

In my first blogs I wrote about the bleak experiences… about experiences during your mourning… about the raw grief. Today, the 15th of June 2016, I talk about love… true love. Love not only on Earth, but in another universe… where both my deceased dear ones are… where my spiritual guides are… with an infinitely grander sensation or emotion… than we experience here on Earth. Michael Newton’s book “Journey of Souls” describes what I already unconsciously knew for a long time.

In retrospect, I can say that I have experienced somehow all stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) developed by Elisabeth Kübler Ross. And not only that, “passion” and “drive” are factors that determine the course of your bereavement. Two factors with which you can transform negative things in your life into positive ones and as result it makes you “stronger”. What I also did learn in the past is to adopt a positive attitude. A positive attitude not only largely determines how you walk through your process of grieving; it also determines the speed at which you walk through this. Bereavement is like a dance… two steps forward and one back. Eventually you’ll arrive where you need to be.

In retrospect, it is also my experience that I walked on two parallel paths at the same time… maybe I was doing so already all the time. One path is that of the heart or the soul. The heart mourns… for the grief… for the persons deceased and he is missing… for friendships he lost and is still missing… but also celebrates new friendships he obtained… and also celebrates others he met. The head is just busy to make sure the heart survives. Most of the time the head does this unconsciously and… maybe not always in a most elegant way… that is often not… but… the result is that I just can continue with life. Yes, unconsciously… but still I often find afterwards that the proper choices were made… and that those choices changed my path(-of-life).

The result is also that my heart and head are more and more balancing each other. The days I’m in balance, are great days in my life. And when there are also friends with me… yes… yes, then despite all my sorrow, I find such a day… awesome.

In retrospect, it also appears that my interests have changed… from engineering… to people and the behavior of people. Not that during my jobs people were not important, on the contrary, people were very important, but… in the knowledge area of grief and bereavement people are very important in a different way… more personal… and…vulnerable. Especially after my openheart-surgaries… it felt like a switch was pushed from on to off. I didn’t want to do anymore the work I used to do… and I used to love. But… that new focus area… people… I find infinitely more challenging and interesting than engineering. I wish I had started much earlier with this expertise… however, it is what is!
mijn reies van rouw naar verdriet - shutterstock_343539905
While I was processing my grief in the past period consciously and unconsciously, I can now see the huge change I’ve made. A change that transformed the raw pain from my grief into the forgiving pain of my sorrow. In addition, I have found new opportunities on my path and despite my sorrow I became a happy person again. In retrospect I can conclude that what I have achieved now and the way I feel now … I couldn’t even imagine that in my wildest dreams three years ago!

I sincerely hope that when you look to your path of bereavement in retrospect… that you can draw similar… and for you acceptable conclusions.