(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!

(109) A Happy Feeling

Let the moments of sadness, of fear, of pain, of disappointment fly away like the Butterfly and let the joyful feeling, the sense of oneness, sense of belonging that you may give yourself, share in these seconds of being whole fulfil you.

Dear Soul, do you want to write for me?

In an unexpected moment of one second, when entering a hallway, I was surprised by a beautiful appearance that flew in my direction. In this one second, I pondered to catch it and to set it free from this Hall, because it should fly in nature. Everything during this one second made me catch this beautiful Butterfly and search for a window.

While searching I could not find a window, then went up towards to the terrace where I could let this beautiful appearance rest.

On the way to the terrace, my sister came upstairs and, in my enthusiasm wanted to share this feeling … by carefully opening my hand I showed the beautiful Butterfly to my sister, she was just as surprised by this wonderful spectacle what was given to us this morning.

While talking and searching for an attempt to give the Butterfly her freedom, my sister tried to grab her phone to capture her.

While filming the Butterfly stayed quietly on my hand, showing itself in her most beautiful outfit, a colour splendour that made us happy, that happy inner feeling you can’t explain had passed by a couple of times in a few seconds, in a deep respect, a deep appreciation, a deep togetherness, feeling a deep unity with this beauty from nature. She had closed her wings and, walking to the terrace, she opened it, this colour splendour warmed us up inside and amazed us in a way that was very special.

The beautiful butterfly sitting on my hand

Walking to the hydrangea to let her rest on the leaves and then to meet freedom, she sat very quietly and occasionally let her wings close and open. During this short period of connection with three creatures of nature we felt that this, this connectedness was necessary to make us realize that nature has so much to offer and that nature in ourselves needs so little to create this happy feeling for what it is.

At some point while talking to her she showed her wings spread on my hand where I said: “Go … go enjoy flying into nature … be yourself.”

The beauty she radiated during these few seconds made us marvel this moment for the rest of the day.

A moment of awareness with this beautiful Butterfly reminded us that every second of the day you can enjoy yourself, be yourself and because of all kinds of circumstances you can sometimes no longer see the beauty of this Butterfly, can feel it, can share it in the way that Nature you offer … for free and for naught.

This Butterfly stands for that bit of enjoyment, rejoicing yourself by looking through the eyes of this beauty that makes you surprise, rejoice and warm.

Think like the Butterfly, spread your wings, show off your colour splendour, and sometimes take a break to relax so that you can fly out the way you want and can fly out to a new place, a new feeling, a new encounter, a new experience! Embark on a voyage of discovery within yourself as the Butterfly did in this hall, and watch what you can see, be able to experience in a matter of seconds, which will make you stop for a moment in wonder, the admiration of nature around you, on Mother Earth, in nature and within yourself.

Let the moments of sadness, of fear, of pain, of disappointment fly away like the Butterfly and let the joyful feeling, the sense of oneness, sense of belonging that you may give yourself, share in these seconds of being whole fulfil you.

A happy feeling is that feeling where you press that Heart & Soul button to let the Light shine in a dark room. Be this button yourself, because anything is possible! A few seconds to rejoice your heart, rejoice your soul, and above all rejoicing your life, making other energies realize that we are all just seconds on Mother Earth to make this wonder, admiration, to be allowed to share as the butterfly did with me and my sister.

That’s where I’m this beauty grateful for.

(108) An overwhelming loss

An overwhelming loss just happened to you. At that moment you are in deep pain and don’t know what to do, but in the end, you get it resolved somehow. Be aware that it can often be a long and arduous journey, a journey in the unknown, with love and joy at the end of that journey. However, never again it will be the same as before … there will always be some pain left.

Suddenly there it was … an overwhelming loss

Recently you suffered an overwhelming loss that has a huge impact on you. It seems as if you have fallen into a deep hole, that your world stopped turning, that you are so stunned you don’t know what to do anymore.

Preferably you would want to put the clock back to the time, which might not be perfect, but in which you were happy. To the time you had the job of your life and didn’t realize that the company you worked for would eventually go bankrupt. Or perhaps to the time when that loved one was with you, who was always there for you, who always supported you, and gave you courage, who was the one your world revolved around, but who is deceased now. Or maybe to the time when you felt good and healthy and had no suspicion that you were seriously ill. After many intensive treatments the doctor informed you eventually that there wasn’t any other existing follow-up or trial treatment available for you to help.

An overwhelming loss results into grief and mourning.

The enormous emotional impact of the loss can raise questions like “does my life still makes sense” or “how do I proceed with my life from here” or “what is (still) the purpose of my life?” These questions will certainly not reduce the impact of the loss, on the contrary.

Your overwhelming loss and the ensuing grief and mourning can also be intensified by the opinions and attitudes of the people around you. People who, like you, are involved with the same loss but are trying to process this in a different way within their own realities. People who may not realize that everyone is mourning in their own way.

They are custom examples, or so you wish cases, which have happened to me and my family. When you happen to recognize yourself in one of these, I hope that this blog can help you.

It starts with the acceptance that what happened … did happen

Mourning or processing grief is a process that lasts as long as it takes, and which runs differently for everyone. Before the process of mourning can begin, however, you first must be able to acknowledge that this great loss that has happened is irreversible. That you accept that there is no way back because the company for which you worked is bankrupt or … that your loved one has died or … that your illness is terminal … and that what others think of your loss and your mourning is rather a mirror for themselves than that you have to do something with that.

Your acceptance of your loss does not mean that the processing of your grief is going “smoothly.” There may be times when at one point it seems you have accepted your loss while at a different moment it seems that it is not nearly the case. You may not even be aware of that but changing the acceptance of your loss from one moment to the next may generate the necessary additional emotions in you. Emotions that can translate into reactions in your body and also in your behaviour towards others. The same applies to the people in your immediate environment who are processing their grief too. It does not make it any easier.

And that was just the beginning. Yes, mourning requires a lot of energy. Jung said it back then, mourning, or processing your grief, is hard work.

Then come the questions, the life questions, on which answers are needed

Answers to life questions such as “does my life still make sense” or “how do I continue with my life” or “what is the purpose of my life” help in accepting the reality of the loss. In my blog I cannot give answers to such questions because the answers are influenced by who you are, by your background and culture, and how you were formed during your life.

“Mmmmm …” I can hear you think … “but how can I, as a reader, get answers to these, although basic, but for me personally … important questions?”

In my opinion, it is important that you do not end up in a negative energy spiral, because the longer it takes the harder it will be to reverse it again. But not everyone recognizes or acknowledges that to themselves.

It is also important to adopt a positive attitude, so that problems become opportunities, lessons become obstacles, and your worries are just a part of your life.

My point of view is also that people can change … you too can change … using your heart and all the unconditional love that is available in our universe.

Easy to say but doing and continuing to do so is quite something else. It takes a lot of energy and above all perseverance. But not everyone is willing to devote that.

How do you tackle that … dealing with loss?

It reliefs when you are distracted from that overwhelming loss. For example, you have children who need your care, time and attention. Or you have people in your immediate environment who depend on your help. Or you have a job. But not everyone has that.

It is easier when you do away old things. When you are open to other ideas, other signals, other observations. But not everyone can do that.

It reliefs when you start recognizing that your fear has to do with your thoughts that tell you that something is not possible, but that when you can think in opportunities and challenges you can develop further and create new opportunities. But not everyone wants that.

It helps when you dare to leave the trodden path, and while you struggle over the path that is unknown to you, you eventually discover a new path with new and more possibilities than you ever were able to dream about. Opportunities that become a new reality for you. But not everyone dares.

It reliefs when you ignore what others think you should do, but that you listen to what your heart tells you … that you listen to your feelings. But not everyone has the courage to do so.

A perspective…

To provide you with some support while processing an overwhelming loss, I can offer you some perspectives from my own experience.

When you at length go through your mourning with falling and getting up again, you discover at a certain moment that the raw grief you experienced in the beginning has changed into the soft pain of sorrow. That the pain has become a viable and essential part of you … it has made you who you are at that moment.

It may even be the case that you have changed so much that people around you wonder how that happened, while you wonder why you did not start the activities you are currently engaged in much earlier in your life.

In retrospect, you may consider that the great loss you have experienced was necessary to put you on the path of life you are currently walking on … that you can be proud of yourself on who you have become … on what you do now in and with your life. What another thinks of that is like a mirror for the other and not relevant to you.

In retrospect you may still vaguely remember any negative aspects and moments before and during that great grief, but later you remember mostly the beautiful things in your life. It gives freedom in your head, in your mind … it relieves.

Looking back in time…

An overwhelming loss just happened to you. At that moment you are in deep pain and don’t know what to do, but in the end, you get it resolved somehow. Be aware that it can often be a long and arduous journey, a journey in the unknown, with love and joy at the end of that journey. However, never again it will be the same as before … there will always be some pain left.

For that job of your life you’ve lost, eventually another occupation came in its place that gives much more satisfaction. For the loved one you lost and of whom you are missing the intimacy from human to human … maybe it even still hurts deeply … you are somehow still connected with the other from heart to heart. And because of that (terminal) disease you eventually learned to live and enjoy moment by moment.

Dear reader, I have learned to approach life in a positive way. That did not happen by itself. Two intense mourning processes contributed to this. It was hard work and there were times when I no longer knew how to continue in life or how I could find the answers to my life’s questions. But when someone asks me now, “if you would have the choice with the knowledge you possess now, to completely relive your life? What is your answer?” then I would answer wholeheartedly with … Yes!

I hope this blog is useful in helping you while processing your grief.

(107) Good Watch

This time a contribution from the district nursing services. No matter how professional the employees are towards their clients, it is and remains human work. This is most evident when the daily work extends to palliative care. Besides profession, emotions also come into play. After all, it is and remains work for people carried out by people and everything that comes with it. For all these employees it is nothing but praise from me!

And now follows Nella’s contribution… a contribution from a district nursing service, somewhere in The Netherlands.

“Good watch,” these were the words I have heard for years. During the night shift, after I gave you the care you needed.

The bond I had with you was special, our age difference of 40 years did nothing to that. You called me your friend. Not so much that I visited you outside my working hours … though. The many conversations about life itself, such as the struggle you wanted to continue to work as a highly educated woman at the time when you were married and had children. That was very unusual at the time and took a lot of struggle. But you persisted and never gave up on what you believed. Those were the powerful stories. Keep developing yourself, don’t stand still, because that was decline by definition. Being and staying independent as a woman, leading your own … That was one of the many stories and lessons and learning moments about life itself. Also, the love for your deceased husband, who supported you in those years of struggle to follow your own path as a woman. The many grateful moments with your husband, children and grandchildren together. The visits of your children, who came frequently and the grandchildren you called gifts.

It is May 4, 2019, commemoration day of the dead. Your health deteriorates very quickly when I arrive around midnight as usual. As always, the TV is on, but not now with the news sections, but the Second World War is proceeding. The bombs and all that goes with it, illuminates and engulfs your living room with sound, from a TV screen that is currently far too large. I can see that the WWII is not only on TV but also in you. With a somewhat tearful face, which I have rarely seen in all those 7 years with you, you tell me that I may go and that if it suits me, I may return later in the night or even in the morning. Your voice trembles. My doubt about leaving is great, but because you say it so emphatically and you don’t like fuss, I am starting off in the first place. But before I go out through the door, I walk back and ask, “Can I watch with you so that we are together …” “If you want it so much” and “Do you have time for that?” you asked in a snappy voice to me. For some situations I like to make time free. I know you and understand that you quickly perceive it as pity or too much involvement. I need to phrase it gently. The thought alone. That you would need someone, or that you would feel sorry. That did not suit you at all and straightened your hair. I knew that. “I always come and sit next to you” was my answer, usually going through the day. “That was true,” you confirmed. The tone became much milder again. Once next to you, I felt the quivering in your hands, and as so often I grabbed them for a moment, just like now. Because your hands were shaking so, I enclosed them with my second hand. We watched the movie together without saying anything. Despite our very close relationship, I know that you absolutely do not want to talk about the war. That era is a closed book for you. Once the movie is over, I give you the care that we give you every night.

“Didn’t it bother you that you stayed?” was your question to me. “No, being together with you right now is so much more of significance to me.” “For me too,” you say. “You don’t know how much you mean to me, because I don’t actually say it so often. Rarely actually.” “You don’t have to. Some situations you can just feel the empathy,” was my answer. This is the essence of providing care. I have known that for a long time, but now I felt it so emphatically.

In the last week of your life, you become increasingly narrow, restless and anxious. I happen to have the night shift myself that week. I was with you during the many hours of fear and unrest. I asked the questions that always must be asked in situations like this. And what we talked about much earlier, when nothing was wrong. You wanted to die peacefully, preferably asleep. The conversations become more intense, your sensitivity and your soft side are showing much more, just like the satisfaction about a completed life. It was such a beautiful valuable time together in the last week. The cocktail of medication that someone receives when the person is severely oppressed or restless (at a certain stage) and wants to do so, as would have been the case with you that evening, is started. And, as promised, I will still take care of you.

The peak of our relationship and contact was reached for me, when your son called me and asked if I wanted to stop by so that you could say goodbye to me when you were conversant. Of course, I would come over. With heavy shoes, I went to you. To be honest, I found it difficult, but once with you, I was surprised of the peace you showed. There was no sign of fear and unrest. You were ready for the last journey. Almost cheerfully you asked me if you could give me something. You have often asked me that question. Like now, I don’t need anything from you. “Everything you would like to give me fades in the contact and the bond we have had”. You smiled at me. “You are right, what we had together was unique in every way”. With a final farewell and a kiss on your cheek I leave your home. On my way home, tears roll down my cheeks. Not because you die quickly, but because of the beautiful and many memories we had together. I realized: this is and was LOVE. I feel love and gratitude for the time together with you. And a huge loss for the time to come when I must miss you.

Farewell dear friend!

(104) There are those moments in your life

There are those moments in your life, even after many years, that you’re back at that time … that time you had so much grief and pain … grief, because you lost a loved one … hurt, because you were seriously ill … that you thought that you were healed and it turned out that you have cancer again … or …

You have such moments when processing your grief … even though that may have been years ago. At moments like that you jump back into your grief again … you may cry just as intensely as then … it might hurt just as much as then. That is allowed, even though it may be after years, there is nothing wrong with that!

People around you … even dear ones such as family and friends … may not understand anything anymore of what is happening to you at that moment. When you are asked what is going on … and you just can’t find the words to describe how you feel at that moment … yes, then that’s OK too.

Maybe it helps when you don’t know the words … as an answer to their question … that you play this music by Lili Haydn – The Last Serenade. Tears and understanding come naturally. Maybe they understand … or maybe they feel … what’s going on with you. And maybe not. Only if you understand the emotions you feel!

Bereavement may take quite a while. That is very normal. After all, everyone mourns in their own way.

But mind you, it should not be that you linger in your grief. The raw mourning of the past must have changed into the gentle pain of the sorrow and the missing of people today. Because if the raw pain of the past … now, after years, still is present … then it would be good to seek help. Then indicate that it is about processing your grief! Many people assume that you have processed your grief by now. After years, not everyone immediately makes the connection that you are still dealing with (delayed) mourning.