(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.

(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.

(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.

(2) A new experience

You would expect that after over 13 years after the loss of my daughter, let me say this carefully, would be less emotional than in the beginning.

Looking back to the period around my daughter’s death strange things happened. Things that I couldn’t really explain. On the one hand I had a lot of grief and, on the other I was arranging everything for her … without any feeling or emotion. I felt quite ambivalent at it, didn’t really understand what to do with it and how to respond.

Months later, little by little I was becoming myself again. The grief translated into the story about my daughter I told to anyone who was willing to listen. Well willing to listen … it turned out that one way or the other the conversation usually, consciously or unconsciously, turned around to my daughter.

You would expect that after over 13 years after the loss of my daughter, let me say this carefully, would be less emotional than in the beginning. On the contrary. Lately my daughter is almost daily in my mind and, and the mental image I have is as she was at the time. On the other hand, I am lately remembering less and less of her death and the days that followed. During those moments the brain turns out to be a beautiful thing; all emotions, colors, smells, heat, conversations, environments come available again with the smallest details as if it were photos or film clips… as if you are re-living it.

Do I find myself pathetic? No, on the contrary! I am rather proud that I was present at her death and that we had been able to say farewell to each other. Am I sad? Yeah sure, up to my death I suspect. I’m a happy man? Most definitely!