(125) Shortly after the birth of your child, you are told that it has not been granted a long life

The raw mourning caused by the loss of your child eventually turns into the gentle pain of grief. The sharp edges go off, but the pain of losing your child never passes!

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

After the birth of your child, you hear that it has not been given a long life

If, as a parent, you are told at the birth of your child that it is seriously ill and has not been given a long life, then you step into the most intense rollercoaster ride of your life you can imagine. How do you explain to your family, friends and acquaintances what is going on with your new-born? How do you explain what the future holds for your new-born?

And so, it begins

They are not easy conversations with the family! Certainly not when your new-born child looks fantastic despite everything and some family members simply cannot accept that your child is seriously ill. Or because your child has a disease that is genetically linked to one of the family systems … or even both. How do you deal with this within your family? Not to mention the world outside your family. And finally, … how do you deal with it?

How do you continue together when you later discover that the number of friends around you is slowly decreasing? As if they find it difficult or prefer not to be near you anymore. As if you yourselves … you, your partner, and your other children … don’t have a hard enough time. In the end you try to let everything that happens outside your family, slip away from you because your child and family are infinitely more important. But that is easier said than done. It adds an extra dimension to all the problems you already have.

Unconsciously you enter a survival mode

Unconsciously you end up in a survival mode in which you are always fighting for your child to be able to live if possible.

There are times when things are going so great, as if nothing is wrong and your child seems healthy. There are also those moments that are so sad, and your child is so sick that you must rush to the hospital … at that moment you are so afraid that it won’t come home again.

Sometimes those powerful emotional moments come right after each other that you switch in a fleeting moment from joy to fear. Eventually you find repeatedly asking yourself with the thought if this could be your child’s last year?

Maybe by now you have learned not to show your emotions and the pain in you and your family anymore. Because people don’t understand. Or because they think that the pain for themselves or one of their acquaintances is much severe than yours. Or because they ask you the social question “How you are doing?” … but are not interested in your answer at all.

Finally, home Your child can no longer sustain the strength to move on
Finally going Home

And then it comes, always unexpectedly, that inevitable moment when your child shows that no matter how much it wants … how much it loves you … it can no longer muster the strength to move on with life … no longer wants to live … and decides that this is enough … it wants to go Home. How can you, as a parent, finally have the courage to give your child permission to go Home … no matter how hard that may be for you? Nights will be long and sleepless for you … if that wasn’t the case already.

The run-up to death

Eventually come those in and in sad moments where you can consciously experience the run-up to the death of your child. During those days you can only be there for your child, while you would still like to give your child so much. You would like to continue to fight for your child. You would so much like to switch with your child.

However, at a certain point, usually unexpectedly, it becomes quiet around you. Your world seems to tip over and slowly comes to a standstill. It feels like a moment of intense peace. It is the moment when you give your child with all the Love you have, permission to go Home. And you realise that everything has been said between you in Love and Light.

As soon as you have given your permission, slowly, very slowly your world begins to turn again. You begin to hear all the sounds around you again. It is also a moment when you feel a deep inner peace and realise that it is good … as if it should have been like this!

And then

From the birth of your child until the day you allowed your child to go Home, you were in survival mode, maybe for years. No matter how lovingly you were able and allowed to go with and support your child all those years, you were always alert to whether your child was doing well. You yourself probably would have often ignored yourself, after all, your child’s health was to you much more important. The consequence of this can be that during all those years you have pushed your feelings away … which is a thing you can do easily by now.

It became silent at home now that your child is no longer with you. Yes, your partner and your other children are (perhaps) still there, but the child you gave all your attention to is no longer there anymore. The absence is missed by all and with you the most.

On the other hand, perhaps you or your family are happy that your child is at Home; simply because your child had a hard life and finally lost that sick body. It is the beginning of a period in which slowly but surely the “natural order” in and around the family is or can be restored. In my experience this process takes almost as long as your child has lived. In my opinion, your emotions also run much flatter after the death of your child, because you dealt year by year with the thought that your child would die rather sooner than later, than when your child would have suddenly died in a tragic accident.

Suddenly you run into limits again
It will always hurt

And suddenly you run into a line again. Most people in your life are not used to the fact that the mourning after your child’s death can be long. Certainly not in today’s times where everything must happen faster and faster. Likewise, these people are not used to learning that coping with your loss and grief in your case can take quite a long time. Then at some point you get reactions like: “Gee, your child died years ago. Haven’t you got over that yet?” Reactions that cut through your soul at such a moment because it still hurts so much for you. There is no point in explaining this to the other person, he just doesn’t understand it; you had had that experience long before. The result is that almost at once … you switch back into your survival mode again … you have become incredibly good at it by now.

But do realise

But do realise that it is good for you to learn how to deal with your grief and loss. Realise that you can’t always do it on your own in this case. Also realise that you cannot always seek support for this from your partner. After all, your partner also must learn to deal with the same loss. The longer it takes, the better it is for you to seek help from a professional practitioner with a lot of empathy and experience for your situation.

With reliable professional training for counselling in the field of grief and mourning, the requirement is that a counsellor, can counsel a client as far as the counsellor him- or herself is capable with dealing him or her own loss. A great deal of time is spent on this during such a training programme. In short, you could also opt for a programme in which you are certified as a mourning counsellor as a bonus. You will never receive the certificate of such a programme as a gift. You must work very hard for it. Besides, you must work very hard anyway, because learning to cope with loss is very hard and difficult work. Perhaps this is a wonderful new challenge for you, because the loss of your child allows you to find a new destination in life.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a grief counsellor to teach you how to deal with your loss and grief, make sure that this counsellor has experience and knows very well the limits of his or her own loss.

And now a final comment

In this contribution I use the words learning to cope with your loss and mourning. It is my experience that the raw mourning caused by the loss of your child eventually turns into the gentle pain of grief. The sharp edges go off. But the pain of losing your child never passes!

Paradoxical as it is … despite all that sadness … all that pain … and all that loss … in hindsight I would not have missed a day of it. It is what it is … and that is not always easy.

(124) Laugh with all your heart, despite your mourning

Laughing with all your heart after grief and loss

People generally avoid loss and mourning. One does not always know how to react, what to say to a grieving person. From subjects like loss, mourning or death, one becomes sad, gloomy, quiet. But why shouldn’t you be allowed or able to celebrate that the other person, your deceased loved one … that that special other person has somehow accomplished the tasks in life and is allowed to go home. Why shouldn’t you be allowed to celebrate that? Laugh with all your heart and soul, despite your mourning!

Awareness

Recently, after a conversation with a friend, I noticed that I had been laughing with her. That laugh came deep inside … from my core … my soul.

Laughing with all my Heart and Soul
From my Soul

Hours later it dawned on me that since the death of my daughter Anne Birgit, now more than 20 years ago, I had seldom done this! And because of the death of my wife Mary-Anne, already 10 years ago, I was not aware of how I really felt … how I was in life. Even though in those years I worked on myself … alone … or with others. Still, in those years I was able to enjoy life … have fun in life. But despite all that … or perhaps because of all that … that awareness that I had estimated from the laughter … felt to me like a thunderclap in clear heaven.

An ambivalent feeling

That awareness of that laughter deep from my heart gave me an ambivalent feeling. On the one hand it tasted like more … I wanted to be able to laugh more often with all my feelings. But on the other hand, why hadn’t I discovered this in myself sooner … hadn’t I become aware of it sooner?

Yes, I had often laughed and had fun after the great loss of both my soul mates … but somehow it wasn’t real … it didn’t sound real … as if something was missing … something deep inside.

And then all of a sudden … all of a sudden you come across statements by “verken je geest” on Facebook, translated from the Dutch language, like “It’s striking that a smile can have two different meanings … you can use it to show how good you feel … and … to hide how bad you feel”. Or a statement like “The people who laugh the most are the people who have suffered the most”. Yeah, I came across those statements suddenly after I realized that I had been laughing from all of my heart. Or did I not notice such statements earlier? I don’t know.

Light and Love

I want to heal myself and/or be healed so that after all the loss and sorrow that I have experienced so far, I can … really laugh with pleasure … really enjoy life … and really trust myself … love and light in my life are central again. But then I must go inside, to my feelings, to my heart … to my soul? Do I dare to do that? Will I succeed … or … With the help of others, professional experts in experience, it should certainly be possible.

At the same time with that insight I feel a deep peace coming in … as if I finally dare to make the leap to that part of the path that is full of obstacles. Or as Frank A. Clark describes it: “If you find a path without obstacles, it probably leads nowhere.

Conclusion
Dare to take that path ... that path with its many obstacles and let yourself be surprised by the wonderful encounters and lessons you can learn there. Continue to cherish that path with Love and Light.
Continue to cherish that path with Love and Light.

Dare to take that path … that path with its many obstacles and let yourself be surprised by the wonderful encounters and lessons you can learn there. Continue to cherish that path with Love and Light. Show what a wonderful person that other person was … that loved one you have lost. At the same time, show what a wonderful person you are and that despite your loss and mourning, you may shine in the Light and Love of Life. Celebrate that and Laugh with all your Heart and Soul, despite your mourning!

(111) Becoming aware of mourning

Becoming aware of mourning is important because in the literature it is described how grief represents a change in health status and well-being. Just as healing in the physiological area is necessary to restore the homeostatic balance in the body, the grieving needs time to restore the psychological balance.

Becoming aware of mourning

Becoming aware of mourning is important since it is described in the literature how sadness represents a change in health status and well-being. Just as healing in the physiological area is necessary to restore the homeostatic balance in the body, the griever needs time to restore the psychological balance.

In an earlier blog I wrote about an overwhelming loss immediately after a loved one or dear one had died. This blog is about the run-up to becoming aware of grief as a result of that overwhelming loss.

A few terms

The following terms are used in this blog:

Grief indicates the experience of someone whose loved one or dear one has died. Grief consists of a collection of thoughts, feelings, behaviour and physiological changes that can vary in combination and intensity over time.

Bereavement defines the loss to which the person is trying to adjust and the experience of having lost a loved one or dear one.

Mourning is the term that is applied to the process that people go through to adapt to the death of their loved one or dear one. The finality and consequences of the loss are understood and integrated into the life of the griever.

As you would expect, notions such as grief, bereavement and mourning are not limited solely to aspects related to the death of the loved one or a dear one. It can be drawn much wider. For example, in relation to a terminal illness, a divorce, the loss of work, the loss of physical functions, etc.

Why should grief be dealt with after a big loss?

Research has shown that within normal mourning, also referred to as uncomplicated mourning, much of the behaviour can resemble that of depression. However, the cause is different and so does the approach to address its behaviour. The current understanding is that while most of the depressions during mourning are transient and do not require special attention, the idea is nevertheless emerging that a persistent depression during the first year of mourning does indeed require professional or clinical attention. Seen from this perspective, it is believed mourning after the loss of a loved one or a dear one is important.

But whatever you think about it …

The choice of whether to handle your grief after a major loss is entirely up to you. You are free to process your grief or not. You may not even consider it because sadness is part of life and many in your area die. You could choose to repress your sorrow (after a short time) into the background simply by continuing with your daily life “as usual.” You could even choose to replace it with someone else shortly after your partner’s death.

“Mourning? Do I mourn? No, not at all! Should I? Why would I want to do that?” These are questions and reactions from a young man from Nigeria whose family member had died. He explained that mourning does not matter to him because death is part of daily life. After all, many people are dying around us. A reformulation of the question could also be: if it is normal for (many) acquaintances to die or disappear in your environment every day … how do you look at your loss or mourning?

How do I become aware of my grief from that great loss?

Personally, I became aware of my grief after many years. After the death of my wife, Mary Anne, I returned to work quickly, maybe too quickly. My work was intense, the teams worked all over the world and as a result my working hours were quite bizarre. However, it was a fantastic job from which I could get a lot of energy. Until that moment when I retired a few years later. I got several of those indefinable ailments, felt gloomy, could not sleep, was tired, and reading a page of a book took me days and still I had no hunch what it was about. Ailments no physician could put a finger on. Occasionally there were days when all went fantastic … at least that added a bit of hope to the little that was left of it. It all simmered a bit until during a vacation with my son, Mervyn, we suddenly had to rush to the hospital, I could barely breathe anymore. They saw it happen in the hospital, but they couldn’t find the cause. Eventually everything returned to normal and we went on with our vacation. Once at home they could not find a cause in our hospital either. However, once I started writing my blogs about grief and mourning, those “ailments” started to disappear slowly. Gradually I became aware that I had finally started processing my grief.

But could you also become aware of your mourning … instead of by chance?

In general, mourning involves a collection of thoughts, feelings, behaviour, and physiological changes that can vary over time in combination and intensity. To name just a few:

Bereavement and emotions

Sadness, anger, blame, guilt and self-blame, fear, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, shock, yearning for the deceased, emancipation or relief, numbness, hollowness in the stomach, chest tightness, tightness in the throat, hypersensitivity to noise, a feeling like you are no longer yourself, breathlessness, shortness of breath, weakness in the muscles, lack of energy, dry mouth, disbelief, confusion, preoccupation, sense of presence, hallucinations, sleep disorders, eating disorders, distracted and absent behaviour, withdrawn into oneself, dreams about the deceased, avoiding memories of the deceased, searching or calling for the deceased, sighing, restless, hyperactive, crying, visit places that remind of the deceased, collect or carry objects that belonged to the deceased.

Yes, there are quite a few and on top of that you must be able to be consciously involved with this matter for a while after that overwhelming loss. Maybe you suffer from absent behaviour or you have no energy to do anything. Maybe family members or friends can assist you when you are not able to do so yourself.

How to proceed

Personally, I was able to conclude that I had started processing my mourning much later. In retrospect, I would much rather have had direct help with the processing of my grief. It would have given me more peace and I could have enjoyed life more. Maybe even … it is what it is…

Anyway, you can become aware of mourning, after the death of your loved one or dear one, when you keep track of your thoughts, feelings, behaviour and physiological changes from the above collection on say a monthly basis by indicating how these vary over time in combination and/or its intensity. You could draw the conclusion when:

• The combination and/or intensity diminishes: that you are processing your mourning and that you can handle the loss of your loved one or your dear one.

• The combination and/or intensity kind of persists: then it is wise to seek help for your mourning at a practice for grieving and loss guidance.

• The combination and/or intensity increases: then it is wise to seek help from your doctor as soon as possible for guiding you with your mourning. In the latter case, based on your feelings, you may have already considered the idea of ​​seeking help in an earlier stage.

Summary

This blog may be a bit on the boring side, but it is my intention to help you in becoming aware of your grief after the loss of a loved one or a dear one. From own experience, experience of others and from the literature it appears that processing of grief is important. In a nutshell, body and mind must be healed, must be brought back into balance. However, realize that that balance will no longer be the same as before. Mourning also means that you are “marked” by the loss … like in my previous blog with Kathy who rarely shows the brilliant light that she really is and with Tanja where you can see the necessary setbacks she has had when you look deep into her eyes.

It is my wish that this blog can help you with becoming aware of your grief. It is my experience that only then your mourning begins.

A final comment

There is a lot of literature available in the field of grief and mourning. The Dutch version of the Foundation’s website contains a literature overview that is regularly updated. The book that I find most rewarding to read and understand is “Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy”, 5th edition, by J. William Worden (ISBN 9780826134745) published by Springer Publishing Company, LLC.

(99) Roundabout of Choices

Roundabout of choices. You keep making choices that lead to similar consequences as from choices you made previously. You promised yourself never to do that again, and still you did.

Choices

In our daily life we consciously and unconsciously make many choices. With one choice it is crystal clear for you to choose, with the other choice the options are not so clear, let alone that you can see the consequences of your choice. You never get full assurance for making your choice. As soon as you have made the first steps after your choice, everything will change as things that were previously hidden for you now become visible. In short, it makes no sense to reason (in detail) what choice you should make… but trust your feelings.

If you don’t make a choice, you literally stand still, and you won’t continue on your life’s path. But, make sure you don’t get on a roundabout of choices.

Roundabout of Choices

Each time you make the same choice of which you promised yourself never to make it again, then your life’s path run along a roundabout; the roundabout of choices. Even though the players you meet may change over time when you walk along your roundabout of choices, it remains a repetition of moves and decisions. You won’t proceed in life in my opinion because you didn’t learn obviously from previous lessons.

Below some examples. Many examples could be added to the list. What matters though is that you keep making choices that have the same kind of outcome or consequences… you promised to yourself not to make these choices again… and, still you did.

An example: Your partner abuses you

Consider for example of a situation where your partner abuses you, or bullies, deceives, neglects or just ignores you. You may not have experienced that in the beginning of your relationship. Later, when you became aware of the situation you were in, you still loved your partner deeply despite his or her behaviour. You didn’t want to admit at first and eventually, perhaps even after long deliberation, you decided to end the relation. And when you settled down again you thought at yourself: “Never again!”

Eventually you met someone again with whom you decided to enter a new relationship. Later, you discovered that this new partner behaved the same way as your ex-partner. “Not again!” you thought. However, your friends saw it happening again from the beginning of your new relationship and were thinking: “How is it possible that you didn’t learn from that hard lesson the last time?” At that moment you returned to the same point on the roundabout of choices where you were last time.

An example: After a break, you choose the same partner each time

The same applies to people who after a broken relationship still choose the same partner again and … sometimes keep choosing … despite the previously broken relationship (s) and the ensuing frustrations and grief. We may think at the next choice … that we did learn from our mistakes and that this time we will make the right choice. And yet others, who know you well … find that you again have again chosen a partner who is addicted to alcohol and / or drugs or threatens or abuses you. You made the same choice as before in your life when you had promised yourself that you would never make such a choice again.

Any other example

That lousy or bad situation does not necessarily have to deal with a partner. I could also be about completely different things: like your financial decisions or changing jobs every time because the last job didn’t meet your expectations again.

How to proceed from here

Get off that roundabout of choices

Get off that roundabout of choices. You can only proceed on your path of life when you choose a route that caries you away from that roundabout of choices. However, before that happens you will have to be prepared not to retreat every time … maybe you think it too bizarre for words … on that old “trusted” path that was your roundabout of choices. You must be willing to think completely out of the box and perhaps even dare to live that way. Only then can you develop yourself further and perhaps discover also new horizons that help you create new opportunities.

Go for it as soon as you leave the roundabout of choices

Once you step on that new path, that path that takes you away from that roundabout of choices, don’t look back but forward to where that path goes. Leave the past for what it is. The past cannot be changed anyway. You can only make choices that concern the future, your future.

Keep making choices

In my opinion, every person has a purpose in life. However, that goal is not important… what is important is the path you followed to achieve your goal and in particularly the lessons you learned on that path. To reach your goal you’ll have to make choices to move forward in life. What those choices are? That’s not for me. That’s up to you! You are responsible for the choices you make in your life. It also means that you must accept the consequences of a choice made… after all it’s your choice.

New opportunities

It amazes me time and time again is that you unwind once you’ve made your choice. You’ve put a step forward. And whatever the situation was where you’re coming from… or maybe even still is… you’ve put a step… a step forward. And with that you opened new opportunities to move forward in life. Make sure you make use of what you discover… see… get… receive… and feel. Exploit it fully! Get all out of it! At a certain point in time you may discover that you’ve learned new things… something that you never would’ve chosen otherwise … something is a revelation to you… where you become a happy person!

(98) Letting Go

Letting go. Have confidence in yourself, believe and trust that nothing is for nothing… sometimes the difficult things in our life make the choice to look at ourselves. It’ll be fine.

Ask for help, to restore yourself. Everything is a choice… the choice is what you decide… you, and only you, allow that choice… or not.

Letting go is very hard and challenging… but nobody else can solve that part for you. Hence, it is better to face this as soon as possible… to create new room for new things… positive things.

The old energy… the fear… the care… the must do’s… the criticising … the judging… the imposed feeling of yourself or the other… the emotions… the believes… all that’s now allowed to let go… all, that you can let go.

Be thankful and see this as a blessing… as an enrichment to proceed… to embrace yourself again… to love yourself. That’s the key that opens the new door… but, be watchful.

Be yourself… be happy with yourself… laugh at yourself and with yourself… award yourself that which you grant to another… to really feel the new energy… the new energy, when you do realize: “This is not the way I want to go on!”

However, you must take this step, and only you can do that with all your new energy… with all your passion… all your Being… to really experience it… to really feel it, and permitted to share it.

It’s very simple.

Invite the new energy and say farewell to the old energy… thank the old energy and embrace the new one as if you hug a good friend.

You could do it… and you will feel relieved because you do not hold anymore the fear, the care, and the must do… the new energy that makes you feel again in a way as you are.

Sometimes, it’s not clear why things happen… are noticeably profound… for no reason. But, when we look deep within ourselves… then we see, or feel, that little place where you do not always want to go to… to really feel… because you assume: “Surely that’s no longer possible?”

It’s going well, however, you forgot what you saved in all your cells… in your deepest Being… in your Soul… because you had to go on… no whining, no squealing, just moving on. And just right now when everything goes fine… you don’t feel good… tired… not pleasant.

Letting go the piece that has hurt you so much, has disappointed you so much… is now surfacing… because you have the peace… have the (inner) silence… have the time… to really feel it now.

Feel, undergo and look where it hurts you. Look where it reveals itself when you look honestly through the eyes of your Soul, from the eyes you not always want to see and feel on that spot… that hidden spot… just very briefly, 5 minutes, that’s ok… and then just let it golet it go and see what happens.

It’ll be fine! Have confidence in yourself, believe and trust that nothing is for nothing… sometimes the difficult things in our life make the choice to look at ourselves… a crossroads with a choice… your choice, where do I want to go to.

Go there with your thoughts and live and enjoy this moment in the now. Especially, do not worry about tomorrow… no, there is so much beauty… so much good around you and within you.

Embrace your family, your work, your relatives, your friends, your house, your car … name it … and … beam it, express it!