(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!

(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.