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.
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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. 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.
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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!
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!
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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I hope I can provide a handle so that you too can learn to deal with your loss and mourning whatever may be the cause.
Hans … 20 years later
20 years later? What happened in those 20 years? Most of the blogs I have written are about the period after the death of my daughter, Anne Birgit, in 2000 and of my wife, Mary-Anne, in 2011. Now I don’t want to write about that previous period. This time I want to share with you how I look at my life today … what I am going to do with the lessons I was allowed to learn during that period … how I want to proceed with my life … in a nutshell, how do I see the future today and am I happy with that now.
I hope I can provide a handle with this so that you too can learn to deal with your loss and mourning … whatever the cause may be.
The way I look at it now
The way I look at it today, I am pretty happy with my life. Satisfied in the sense that I have learned to deal with my loss. The raw grief of the past has turned into the gentle pain of mourning. Both Anne Birgit and Mary-Anne are no longer in my mind every day … but we are connected from heart to heart in a different way. As if we know each other when we think about each other. And when a feeling of sadness comes up, it’s like they’re just sitting next to me.
However, there are still times I suddenly go back in time … when Anne Birgit and Mary-Anne were still alive. I still don’t understand how that can happen… maybe because of a smell, a colour, a voice, an image … but in those moments it’s like it’s all real again. Like the way you watch a movie … including all the emotions and feelings that were present at the time. It is true that these kinds of moments have become less frequent in recent years. But when it happens, it is still exactly as it used to be.
The way I look at it, there is immediately a positive thought for every negative thought. As if these are the two sides of the same coin. What strikes me is that in recent years that positive thought has come more often and is stronger than that negative one. That feeling … that positive feeling makes me a happy person. But I should remark that the joy in me goes much lighter and emotionally much deeper than before … more subdued.
I am very sure I would not have been on the path of life I’m walking now, if Anne Birgit and Mary-Anne would still be alive. Paradoxical as it may sound… on the one hand I would like to have both around me again… on the other hand the path I am on now gives me a fantastic but at the same time also an ambivalent feeling. Presumably that feeling will always stay that way.
What do I do with the lessons from that period
The biggest lesson from that period is that I’ve become an experience expert in dealing with loss and grief. People around me are amazed at this. Because for them dealing with loss and grief is about how you deal with it? Isn’t that completed? Time heals all wounds … right? Yes, you have lost a child… that’s like a rollercoaster … we know that. You have now finished your mourning? When I answer that it’s not about that at all, but that it is about guiding others in coping with their loss and their grief … they become silent … then they slowly start to understand. And at the same time, they also indicate that that would never be their choice. But that aside.
In my previous professional life in industry, organizational consultancy and IT, I have learned to look at processes … at people how they use those processes … how possibly could done this better, more convenient, more user-friendly. In this way, I’ve also observed those past 20 years at how I dealt with coping with my grief and my loss. I used that knowledge to write my blogs.
In the meantime, I have started the training “dealing with loss” at the Dutch organization “Land van Rouw.” The amazing thing about this is that the knowledge I have gained from my experience can often be found in the literature used in the course. Does that mean that my training is wasted energy and money? No, that’s not it! It gives me insight from different angles, perhaps other disciplines. With the help of that training, I can even become a professional experience expert, where I can combine theoretical and practical knowledge of others with that of my own.
How I look to the future now
As I look to the future, I envision a path where, in addition to completing training courses, I use my knowledge and experience to assist people in coping with their loss and their grief in the broadest sense. You also should imagine that people become aware that they are in a narcissistic relationship and that they eventually decide to do something about it… no matter how difficult that can be. Or, people who lose their jobs, are terminally ill, or divorce…
I don’t walk that path alone. Together with others I want to guide people with the aim that grief and loss in any form is the most normal thing in the world and that we can talk about it without taboo. I would love that.
As I now look to the future, I also see that I am also moving the common thread of groundbreaking work from my previous profession into this field. For now, I’m just translating it into the form of giving presentations about mourning and loss in any form, writing articles and writing books.
As I now look to the future, it will end for me eventually sooner than later … I am currently 72 years old. In the coming years I also want to enjoy myself and have fun. Somehow, I feel like I’m going to accomplish that. And what I would love is for others to continue my work in their own way.
In this blog I wanted to show how I eventually “can” deal with my loss and grief. Yes, “can” … because there are times when I can’t. It is what it is. I wanted to show you that it can be a long stretch, but in the end, there is light at the end of that process.
I hope I have been able to provide you with a handle so that you can also learn to deal with your loss and grief… whatever the cause may be.
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Two people who each have their own point of view, their own opinion and no matter how you look at it, both are right. That is allowed and there is nothing wrong with that. But when with one of the two violent emotions play a major role, like sadness, fear or pain, then it’s important that both are willing to understand the other’s point of view. Understanding, so that the bond between the two is not severed but strengthened!
The current blog, “don’t leave me alone,” is about two people with the fictitious names Kathy and Tanya. Both have a different even opposite view of the same situation. That is possible and should be okay. But when intense emotions play a major role at Kathy … then it is important that both can talk to each other … and … can understand each other’s opinion. “And then what,” you may think. “Can’t you have a difference of opinion?” Yes, you can. But it becomes a different story when intense grief or a serious illness play a role with Kathy. Relationships can sever or even end; as with Kathy who is afraid of being left alone. Whatever you think, it happens in daily life and it “hurts people.” Nobody wants that, right?
Kathy has no shortage of friends and,
just like my daughter Anne Birgit, she’s a beautiful young woman. However, on
the outside, you can’t see she’s seriously ill. And Kathy too had to cope with
the necessary blows in her life with the result that the brilliant light she
really is, rarely comes out.
Kathy has undergone a whole range of
chemo treatments and radiation treatments. During the last consultation with
the specialist, he indicated that the treatments will continue to work in her
body for months before something can be said about the result.
It is already the second time for
Kathy in her life that she has undergone such a series of treatments. She can still
clearly remember the first series. How relieved and happy she was after she was
told that she was free of tumours … that she could celebrate life again.
The results of the second series will take months to come. Until then, Kathy is not really in a party mood, let alone to celebrate life because the treatments have been completed. She can still remember the enormous disappointment and especially her anger when the tumours returned for the second time. Until then, Kathy is full of hope that the treatments have achieved the intended effect. On the other hand, she is so afraid of being disappointed again because she realizes what that will mean for her sooner rather than later.
Like Kathy, Tanya is a beautiful
young woman who is full of energy and who is always ready to throw a party as
soon as there is anything to celebrate.
Tanya also had the necessary setbacks
in her life … yes, who didn’t. But when you don’t know it or don’t look deep
into her eyes, everything indicates that life seems to be one big party for Tanya,
and she enjoys it to the fullest.
Tanya and Kathy are close friends.
The treatments Kathy had to undergo for almost a year took a great toll. She
was more often in bed than not and too tired to do anything. Tanya made sure
that at least Kathy was eating … that is if she could keep in that little bit,
she was able to eat … and … take care of herself.
When Kathy returned after all those
intense treatments from the last consultation, it was just natural for Tanya
that this should be celebrated. That’s what you do … it makes sense … you
have completed a phase … you can go on with life, right?
Don’t leave me alone
Kathy had a different opinion. She still remembered the conversation with the specialist, the uncertainties expressed in it and Kathy also remembered the result of that first series of treatments. The enormous relief and joy she felt at the time when they told her that she was free of cancer, and a few years later the intense sadness, the anger and the fear that the tumours had returned. Now Kathy is afraid, so afraid of being disappointed again.
“What do you mean, party? There’s
nothing to celebrate” Kathy says to Tanya who doesn’t agree with her. For Tanya
there definitely something is to celebrate. The treatments are completed, aren’t
they? And with this difference in thinking … this difference in opinion … a
difference in point of view that is so logical and obvious for each of them …
that it’s impossible for them to understand each other’s point of view.
And at this point the relationship between Tanya and Kathy starts to wane and Kathy’s cry for help, “don’t leave me alone,” becomes a reality eventually.
But on the other hand, maybe Kathy’s fear has made Tanya as frightened as she is. Or … there is something that Tanya has been touched by or afraid of … which dilutes the relationship. Or … maybe … yes, you can think of and accept anything, but it’s not something you can get along with it.
How to proceed from here
For me it is crystal clear that Kathy and Tanya should discuss this with each other … and … keep talking to each other so Kathy doesn’t feel left alone. Yes, it’s clear to me, but do they think so too?
In my opinion, it is necessary that Kathy and Tanya sit together at the table and each tells her story about … what is felt … missed … should be celebrated … or not … or what they might be even afraid of.
also be beneficial to do this together with a “mediator” so that, in
addition to helping in expressing each other’s words to the other, at the same
time he or she can foster the understanding that both look at the same
situation in their own unique way.
Both have a
point, but it is important that they can understand each other’s point of view
… so that the relationship between Kathy and Tanya does not gets diluted …
but instead … becomes stronger.
experience that people start from their own opinion, or their own view they
have of the another. That’s obvious, you might think, but in my opinion, it
will be something completely different when that image is based on a series of
assumptions. The reality regarding others is usually different and much more
complex than we initially thought or assumed. That is why it is wise to keep
talking to them in order to get a better understanding for each other. The same
applies to people we think we know very well or for a long time.
You could also assume that everyone is correct. To illustrate this, imagine you are standing in a mountain landscape. The image that you see is determined from where you look at it. When you let everyone tell you what that landscape looks like, you will hear different stories depending on where these people were standing … in that same landscape.
communicating with the other person, it is important that we are prepared to
adjust our own opinions about the other person if that should prove so during
the conversation. And there is often another bottleneck because not everyone
can just do this or want to do this.
The core of the case used in “don’t leave me alone” is not unique. There are countless examples in which communication between people is the cause that they do not understand each other … with all possible consequences … like the one in “Farewell“.
Like in the used case of this blog in which two people each have their own point of view or their own opinion. No matter how you look at it, both are correct. That is allowed and there is nothing wrong with that. But when one of the two experiences violent emotions, such as sadness, fear or pain, then it is important that everyone can understand the other’s point of view, so that one of them doesn’t feel left alone in the end!
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