(131) Found Letter

The Cederberg Mountains are bathed in deep blue;
in each curve of shape, I recall your presence,
in the bodies of contour, each incline is you.

Ripe for the sickle, you cut my right through,
overwhelmed by a sense of deepening sentience.
In the bodies of contour, each incline is you.

The tongue of the moon in the morning dew
held me, excited by your effervescence.
The Cederberg Mountains are bathed in deep blue.

The wrinkled old shirt you slowly outgrew
I keep smoothing out for remembrance.
In the bodies of contour, each incline is you.

Will I never forget the night that you flew,
I’m still filled with a sense of your essence;
the Cederberg Mountains are bathed in deep blue.

In letters I thought lost, again I have found you,
elliptical lines brimfull with your presence.
The Cederberg Mountains are bathed in deep blue.
In the bodies of contour, each incline is you.

The author of this villanella is Robin Willinck-Mellish
and it is posted with her approval.

The poem describes the loss of her partner and comes from: “Messages from the Bees,” by Robin Willinck-Mellish, printed by “African Book Collective,” ISBN 978192821535

(130) It’s different now

It’s different now and the journey wasn’t easy. Now I take all te time I need. It feels serene like floating as a leaf on water.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

It’s different now after learning to cope with the loss of my daughter Anne Birgit and my partner Mary-Anne. It’s not that the loss, pain, and sorrow are gone. I can now deal with it, deep in my heart and that connection from heart to heart will always be there. Now on untrodden paths and amazingly, it feels like it should have been this way all the time.

It’s different now

I’m a completely different person than I used to be,
don’t do the things anymore I used to do!

I used to be materially oriented
everything needed to go fast, faster, fastest.
Then it became immaterial
and I started to slow down.

Now it is emotionally based
and I go at a snail’s pace.
I now counsel people
with their loss and grief.

In hindsight …
I would have wanted to do this sooner!
Did my muses have to die,
to make this clear?
Perhaps that was the plan all along
and embrace me
with the love
that was missing in my youth.

And now … now it feels …
no, now its Knowing …
deep inside my heart …
that I’m going in the right direction,
that everything was meant to be.

Hans Fransen, 2021

It’s different now and the journey wasn’t easy. Now I take all te time I need. It feels serene like floating as a leaf on water.

It’s different now. The journey wasn’t easy. There were times I almost gave up and yet, somehow, I was able to push through.! It took a lot of energy and perseverance. And yet, in hindsight, it was well worth it!
In retrospect, yes, that it is.

I wish you to have a fine day.

(129) Goodbye Annette, I will miss you

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

On Saturday, June 18, 2022, Annette, a dear friend, passed away. She will be missed; I will miss her!

June 18 is always a special day for me! Because 22 years earlier, on that same June 18, my daughter Anne Birgit passed away. Both terminally ill, and both died much too soon. Both ending their lives with the decision: “Until here, and no further!”

Two special women who showed the course of my life’s path!

Anne Birgit’s last wish for me was to teach people how to deal with their loss and grief. I promised her that! And somewhere on that then completely new path I put into practice at the time, I met Annette. It felt like she was predestined on my path and that the outcome would matter to both of us. At the end of May she asked me if I wanted to guide terminal patients … people who are going to die … on the last part of their life’s path … because she believes, just like my daughter at the time … because Annette believed I am good at it. I promised her to do so!

Annette

The journey with Annette began about 6, 7 years ago about the time she was diagnosed again with that terrible disease, cancer. During that journey we got closer and closer. There was hardly any other way. By regularly helping her to solve the difficult puzzles she faced and the related choices, sometimes even about life and death, you grow closer to each other.

There were many puzzles that translated into CT scans, Pet scans, chemo’s, radiation treatment … in treatments that seemed to work initially … but later the specialists found that the treatment was not working as expected. Time and time again we needed to look for new alternatives. It was to get tired of. Until the moment there were no more options available, that was the moment where our conversations started to become even more intense … even deeper.

There were puzzles that translated themselves into the interaction with the people around her. Friends became acquaintances, acquaintances fell away. We often wondered how this could be.

What surprised us even more were the unexpected friends whose relationships with Annette became more intense … more empathetic … more profound. Gifts, she thought. In my eyes they were her Golden Friends.

Despite all the sadness, Annette could intensely enjoy the colours in nature … the beauty and the smells of the flowers … of clouds flying by in a radiant sky … of the beach, the sea, the sun … of seagulls on the beach who floated in the wind and searched the terrace to snatch away some goodies … and she could … intensely enjoy the people she loved.

Annette, thank you for being my friend during my training in Coping with Loss. You were a friend in the sense of always asking what we were doing at that moment. You were the source for some of my blogs (e.g. The waiting room, Do not leave me alone). For one of the assignments necessary for my graduation you provided part of its content. You are a source for gaining an even deeper insight into the last stages of our lives as human beings. Thank you for that.

Annette, thank you for the compliment that you have shown me your true self … that of a strong, tough, proud woman … who lashes out like a tiger if you even touch her children … who has an enormous urge to survive … and if you deserved it in Annette’s eyes, nothing was too much for you! You showed me your vulnerable side too … that of a young happy woman dancing in the meadow, with long blond hair blowing in the wind and arms full of meadow flowers.

Thank you, Annette, for allowing me to guide you and for allowing me to walk many parts of your path.

Goodbye Annette, you will be missed; I will miss you!

(128) The Gift

The cardiac arrest I suffered in January last year had quite an impact on my life. And, despite that, it also turned out to be a beautiful gift. It took me a while to write the recent blog.

The past year

The path that followed in the past year had periods where it felt turbulent and serene at other times, and sometimes these alternated rapidly. It was an intense period and I regularly felt like a bouncing ball … you know, like a ping pong ball bouncing on a stone floor.

I had expected early last year that I had learned to deal with the big losses in my life … the loss of Anne Birgit, my daughter, and Mary-Anne, my spouse. I thought that in doing so I had simultaneously learned to deal with the other losses in my life. On the contrary, during the training as a professional grief counsellor at the “Land van Rouw” and completed in the same period, I encountered layers of loss and grief from my childhood and adolescence … such as the lack of love, as if I did not matter, was not seen by my parents and grandparents and, was not taught the language of love and emotions. Hence, putting my feelings into words is quite a task. Although I was aware of this, the understanding struck me like lightning out of the blue.

In a clear moment

That clear moment came after a conversation with one of the supervisors of the program. It came down to this:

– Sometimes I feel fine, sometimes, let us subtly phrase it, not so fine. In fact, I am constantly in a state of survival because of the lack of love from my parents and grandparents. As if I did not matter, was not acknowledged, not seen by them and, had no right to exist.

– I have not had a chance. From my parents and grandparents, I have not learned to feel and to love. As a result, I am at a tremendous disadvantage. My neurological connections related to feeling and love are only beginning to appear now … decades later.

– When you recall moments from your childhood. What do you encounter inside? Be exceptionally curious about the why and try to articulate that from there.

– But I do not have words … words I am searching for describing my emotions … and words give limitations at the same time. Then start by describing your bodily sensations. Words will come naturally … and sometimes they will not.

– Learn to trust your body! Well … feeling is one thing with me … it is my weak point. Feeling is and remains for me a work in progress. I used to learn from people’s assessments that strong points also have a complementary side; I am (very) good at … also has a shadow side. In short, can I use my impotence about feeling and emotions as a strong point?

The gift
The Gift
The Gift

As I was writing this, two lines from Anne Birgit on her urn came back to my mind:

“Do what your heart tells you …
Do not be afraid with what you do!”

Those simple words from my daughter on her urn, empower me to continue my life’s path with confidence. That is a wonderful gift, isn’t it?

So what is that life path?

Share loss and grief experiences, both professionally and from personal experiences to others in similar situations to help them to learn to cope with their loss and grief … and to get on with their lives again. They may even discover possibilities they had not previously thought possible.

In sharing my experiences, I am thinking primarily of:

  • Counseling parents who are about to lose or have lost a child.
  • People counseling who are terminally ill.
  • Counseling people in learning to cope with their loss and grief in general.

As I look at it now, I am sure the list will get longer. We’ll see.

I hope to meet you in person or on this website or the Foundation’s Facebook page.

With heartfelt greetings,
Hans Fransen

(127) Matters of the Heart

Matters of the Heart

In “Matters of the Heart”, it is about the big themes that have to do with your heart.

Like the theme of the great loves in your life, not just your soul mates or your loved ones but especially to yourself. Or the theme of the great losses, not only the death of your soul mates and loved ones but, also the loss of that fantastic job you had or, the suffering from a terminal illness. And following on from that, the theme of learning how to deal with grief and the possible consequences of ignoring it, avoiding it or being afraid to ask for help. Or like the theme of the possible illnesses of the heart when you do not listen to your heart, not so much the medical but the emotional consequences.

The common thread running through these themes is that consequences in “matters of the heart” prove to be fundamental. These are (enormous) changes on your life’s path. Whether you want to or not, you had better learn to deal with it and try to approach it from a positive, the sunny side … however difficult that may be … so that you can get everything that is possible for you out of your life.

The great losses

The great losses in my life are the death of my soul mates, my daughter Anne Birgit and my wife Mary-Anne.

Just before her death, Anne Birgit told me that she had been looking for information on how to support children who were about to die, and how their parents could cope with that. However, she had been unable to find anything suitable. Her last wish was I would guide parents who lost a child … because she had seen what I can do.

My wife Mary-Anne received a card from a woman who worked in one of my teams, one of my Golden Teams. She knew the woman and had me read the card. The woman wrote that she found me a light on her life’s path because of the way I knew how to motivate and coach her and her team members … making the impossible … possible.

During the weekend, Mary-Anne said that she recognised the compliment and that she thought that this should be more my future path. On that path I would be able to be completely myself … who I am in my core. It would also help to fulfil the last wish of our daughter.

The symbol of a heart wearing a headset.
Listen to your heart

Two days later, my soul mate Mary-Anne died.

However, it took a few years before I even had the courage to fulfil that promise. It meant a life’s change … a completely different path in life. Suddenly it happened to me … I had forgotten to listen to my heart.

Open-heart surgery

Six years ago, I had two open-heart operations in quick succession. Two because the first time, when the aortic valve was replaced during the operation, it turned out that even more needed to be renewed. Altogether, it wasn’t so much that these operations were aggravating, but it was the enormous impact they had on my life. An impact that changed my life’s path.

A compass.
Change of my life’s path

Prior to the open-heart operations, I had registered for a European assignment through a colleague. As the client had ranked me second, I missed the contract… too bad, better luck next time. But after those operations, my colleague told me that the client wanted to hire the first three people on the list and he at once asked when I could come for the intake interview. Only … the bizarre thing was that when I heard that … I didn’t want to do this kind of work anymore. Make no mistake, I always found the work awesome. Stimulate people within my teams to enjoy doing the work … each time making the “impossible” come true. They became my Golden Teams. Fantastic jobs they were … I always enjoyed them!

After those open-heart operations it was over … it was just all over. I still don’t know how that was possible, but I had no desire to do what I used to do. I changed my career path and went to work in the land of loss and grief as a grief counsellor. In this way I’m fulfilling the last wishes of my two soul mates, my daughter Anne Birgit and my wife Mary-Anne.

Cardiac arrest
A line on a monitor with the rhythm of a beating heart. The line ends in a flat line towards the Light.
And then … it was quiet … and there was peace

Recently, I suffered two cardiac arrests. It happened in the ambulance after I had fainted during a walk in the dunes. I was not afraid for a moment. Only afterwards I did realise that I had been on the brink of death and the question arose… “Why weren’t you afraid? Even a friend who was with me experienced the peace around us. She was aware that incomprehensible forces were at work to protect us and support me. During the moments when my heart was stopped … I was very aware of the peace and tranquillity around me and felt very Alive. No, I was not afraid! I had an unshakeable confidence that there was something around me that would ensure that I would not die and that all would be well.

It was not the intention I would die at that moment. I already knew that working as a grief counsellor was the right path in life for me … but now I know without any doubt that this is my mission. A mission that I will not shy away from in the Land of Light. And it is precisely this that has made such an impression … in the same order as after those open-heart surgeries. However, this time not only on a deeper level, but also giving more direction.

As a grief counsellor, I am going to specialize in counselling parents who have lost a child … or will lose a child. I have also become aware that I must do something (to others) about the impact that the Near-Death Experience can have on a life. I don’t know yet how to do this, but I have blind faith that I’ll find the answers in my future.

Blind trust

You might think this sounds arrogant, but I have a blind faith that I can deal with what comes my way … and that I may and can guide the people I am going to meet. It is a very deep confidence. In retrospect, I consider those two times that my heart stopped as a Great Gift … as a gift from God! What happened then, I was allowed to Know and experience … I would never have wanted to miss the Near-Death Experience. I feel gifted, blessed, humble … and one with utter Consciousness! Something like that … but on a much deeper level.

True love
A heart in the Light.
True Love

When I look at the way I am now in life, I can say that I was never afraid to live. At the same time, I was never afraid to Be after my death in that other Universe to which we all eventually go.

On the other hand, I was afraid of the run-up to my death and the transition to that other Universe. I clearly had an opinion about that. But since those two times when my heart stopped and what I then experienced … that fear has also disappeared. What I also realise now is that the loss and mourning of both my soul mates has reached a point where I miss them … and will always do so … but now I can move onward with confidence with a new partner in my life. I am now fully aware that about that “ability”, I have been lacking in the past years to enter a new relationship.

Message
Spring. Budding branches.
A new beginning

The message I want to give you as a reader of the blog “matters of the heart” … no matter what happens … most of the time there’s a way to cope with the situation at hand … “a new beginning.” It helps by being really positive in your life. It can just be a new beginning where you start doing completely different things in your life.

Dear Reader, I fully realise that being positive in your life can be difficult from time to time … I know from experience … but for matters of the heart it is more than worth it. Whether it is the loss of a child … medical matters relating to your heart … a cardiac arrest and the deeper insights you may receive at that time … or the love for your partner, your soul mate … these are all matters of the heart that make life worth living!