(49) ‘There Is No Way To Happiness, Happiness Is The Way’ (The Buddha)

It’s about the road and the way, it’s there where it happens. Those beautiful flowers, or that naughty child, or the smile by just anyone. That’s what it’s about.

El CaminoI was visiting a friend who just returned from her two-month pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. The hike to Santiago is also called ‘el camino de Santiago’ which translates as ‘the road to Santiago’.

In 2008 I hiked ‘el camino’ myself, and while talking with my friend and looking at the pictures I was engulfed by the memories of my own Camino. I expect that anyone who hikes the Camino enjoys the simplicity and love that is there for the picking. You don’t even need to collect this because you can’t escape it. Life is about food, sleeping, walking, and communicating with your fellow pilgrims. Inevitably you run into inconveniences and confrontations but those are also easily and quickly resolved. I strongly experienced that I felt being carried by everything around me. No one wonders what your origin or position is. But what is important: what motivates you, what brings you here, what do you want to experience and what you do experience. To ask for help or support is not needed, it’s all around you. Life flows all by itself.

It’s about the way, where it happens. The colour of the earth and the landscape is changing while you walk and every day there are new encounters and challenges. Every encounter gives you something new inspired by each other and the surroundings of that moment; there’s so much recognition. That there is so much recognition, I think, is because we walk in the same direction.

Everyday’s life is no different, we all actually walk in the same direction. We all do it on our own way, but when you really communicate with each other than those different ways turn out to be very recognizable, they appear to be based on the same reasons.

The Camino taught me the simplicity of life. During two months the content of my backpack were my only possessions. And I was lacking nothing. Well, sometimes I longed for a hot bath, but then I promptly found one on my path.

Actually we all have the same goal and that is to be happy. Happiness is not in finding money, position or status or power. Wouldn’t it be great that we all would come to understand that life is actually quite simple. That there are no differences at all and that we all can be happy in a very simple way on the way to where we are travelling to. Listen carefully to the other, he may have a hidden message for you which exactly could be what you need at that moment. Live in simplicity, full with respect and love for each other without any distinction in status or origin.

It’s about the road and the way, it’s there where it happens. Those beautiful flowers, or that naughty child, or the smile by just anyone. That’s what it’s about.

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.

(41) Flight #MH17 …

Last week I could not find the words for publishing a blog on this website. I was deeply affected by all the news and the images that were shown following the disaster with flight #MH17. Many memories came back to me.

This week’s blog is in memory of all occupants of flight #MH17 that was taken down Thursday July 17, 2014 at about 15:20 hours Dutch time above eastern Ukraine.

My thoughts go out to all who have lost a dear one in this flight. I wish that eventually they can see the light again when ‘processing’ their loss and grief.

The World keeps turning, but for many people their World came to a halt. Unfortunately much more happens in our World. We can see it on many (foreign) news channels, planes which crashed elsewhere in the World, wars, violence… and much more.

I hope that we always have sympathy, understanding and the patience to keep listening to all who lost a dear one. I also hope that we always are willing to help them when they make a request.

(31) War

Everyone knows what war means; understands what war is; understands that it’s about important raw materials; understands that it’s about power; understands that it’s about politics; knows that there will be many deaths; understands that terrible things can happen; understands that… But do we really understand the reality of war?

Everyone knows what war means; understands what war is; understands that it’s about important raw materials; understands that it’s about power; understands that it’s about politics; knows that there will be many deaths; understands that terrible things can happen; understands that… But do we really understand the reality of war?

Most of us have no idea and do not understand what the reality of war is. The war zone is far away from where we live, it’s not effecting our daily life and we seem not to be really interested in what happens over there. We have no idea what it feels like to be limited in our free society and not to be allowed to say or do everything. We have no idea how it feels to be limited and restricted in everything we can do in our daily life, how it feels to own nothing at all. We have no idea how it feels to live in a world full of horrors, a world in which you are not certain whether you live tomorrow or not; a world where you have hardly anything to eat, a world where peace and freedom are only vague notions because you have only seen violence or hunger, a world in which a human life does not seem to be of importance anymore.

Yes, we read about this every day in our newspapers and hear about it on the radio. We see it on the television or on the internet. We see for instance images about a starving Africa while we eat from our well stocked plates during dinner… The experiences, the emotions, the fear, the pain and the despair… those emotions we can’t imagine and we don’t feel.

And yet, almost all families in our country have a history of war. It’s not only the families who fled to our country over the past decades to find a safe haven here. It’s also the families whose sons and daughters made a contribution to peace missions somewhere in the world. It’s also the families who have a past during Wold War II.

We all know the stories from people who fled from war zones, or from people who provided support from all kind of organizations. What is striking, is that most of them do not to talk about the horrors they have seen and experienced.  Horrors that were so gruesome that alone by telling about this they see all those images again and re-live their experiences. Images and experiences they prefer to forget… the thing is though, they don’t know how to do this or they are not even capable in doing so.

We all know the stories about parents and grandparents who do not want to talk about the horrors they have seen and experienced during World War II. It didn’t matter how their children tried asking, those experiences and images were not topics to be talked about. These parents wanted to protect their children from everything they have seen and experienced during the war; they preferably wanted to forget those horrors forever… if they could…

The same is true for our sons and daughters who contribute in peace missions. At their return the family finds that their son or daughter has changed from an emotional and mental point of view. These sons and daughters often prefer also to forget what they have been through.

The same is true for the sons and daughters who contribute to peace missions. At their return the family experiences that the son or daughter is emotionally and mentally no longer the person he or she used to be. Also these sons and daughters often prefer to forget what they have seen and have been through.

Although on the one hand I do understand the reasons why grandparents and parents do no wish to talk about the things they have seen during a war, on the other hand this is a gap in the family’s knowledge for the children and grandchildren. A gap which can lead to misunderstanding and mistrust. Misunderstanding and mistrust because the children and grandchildren do not understand why the parents and grandparents act the way they do, with the result that family ties deteriorate or even disappear entirely.

Yes, we all do know those stories; every day we read about these. And yes, we as outsiders have our opinions quickly ready about the why, the how and in particular what you should have done or not should have done in a particular situation.

However… what we do not realise is that these people are heavily traumatized and have to act as normal as possible every day. That is expected by the outside world, that’s us, after all… and probably that’s the way they prefer themselves too. Some people in those cases go into therapy. Others never dared to do so because they were afraid of all the mess that would come out of this. They keep the lid carefully closed on the box of Pandora and they are terrified that, if they would open it, what would come out of it would not be manageable. The fragile balance they have created for themselves and the world outside might be destroyed. For them it’s a form of self-protection.

Something we as outsiders never take for granted is what we should have done if we would find ourselves in such a situation including all emotions, insecurity, danger, hunger, fear and threat. Nobody, but nobody, can prepare himself for this because of the simple fact that you cannot understand this fully unless you have been there yourself. The way you will act, you only know when the situation is there. Only then and, only in that moment you have the right to speak.

What you may think about this, the only thing you can do, is to accept the other completely as it is in all its reality… Isn’t this the essence of love?

(28) A New Beginning

A new beginning. What do you mean with, a new beginning?

Board

A new beginning in the sense that the Mourn & Grief Foundation has a new Board. Although I am the founder, the chairman and only member of the Board from the launch of the foundation, I cannot call this a new Board. So, is not a “new” Board, but today it’s a complete Board that is able to carry out the responsibilities properly.

Secretary and Treasurer are known functions that are available in each Board. Both functions are fulfilled where the position of the Treasurer is temporarily combined with another function in the Board.

The less familiar functions in the Board are:

  • Marketing. A function that positions the Foundation within its markets and seeks cooperation with 3rd Parties.
  • Professional Development. A position that integrates and develops existing knowledge and experience within the landscape of grief. A position that extends boundaries and capabilities within the field of loss and grief and everything that is connected with it.
  • Events. A position that organizes workshops, special events and symposia.
  • Volunteers. A position that maintains a network of volunteers who are willing to work with and willing to support the Foundation in with respect to workshops and customers.
  • Sponsoring. A position that is seeking for 3rd Parties that I willing to finance or sponsor the Foundation.
  • Communication. A position that ensures that all communication and publications from the Foundation to its markets, her network organizations and her customers are expressed in a professional manner.
  • Legal. A position that ensures that the Foundation can make use of all benefits that are available under existing laws and regulations, both nationally and internationally

In the Dutch version of the site, see page “Bestuursleden”, the Members of the Board are introduced.

Workshops

A new beginning in the sense that the preparations for the first workshop have been started. Everybody who has earlier registered on the site and has indicated that she or he is interested in attending a workshop, has been approached.

In the case you have indicated your interest earlier and you didn’t receive an email from us then please contact us through the contact form on this site.

Relation

A new beginning in the form of the new relation. Eventually, you are ready to process your grief and you meet somebody else. Even though you are not constantly seeking for a new relation, you are open for it. And when it is finally the day you say to the other person for the first time “I love you”… then you get this feeling as… what’s this, didn’t I tell this to my previous dearest? Even though, when you have agreed to do so with your previous companion that the one who will live longest should look for a new companion, it feels weird in the beginning.

I used to know, and we discussed that regularly together, that a human being can love more person than one. But when doing so, I had to take a few emotional hurdles before I could accept this in reality. Now it feels good and okay. It’s now also the homecoming again. To have fun together, to do things together and together to be a team again.

I have also learned and experienced that you can really love more than one person. I now realize that the heart is so big, maybe even huge, that it makes this possible and that “loving” has many forms and meanings. The person I love and is closest to me should always be the one where I drop my anchor. For me personally, I expect most of us, it is the only condition where you get your rest and peace again and you are able to recharge. Then, and only then, I can keep doing the things that are important in life.

(27) In Good Faith

Two books are close to my heart. If I wasn’t adverse to religion I would have called them my bibles. The books offer their readers a view of life, stripped of frills, and seemed to say to me, “that’s the way to do it, nothing more, nothing less, and let’s keep it simple”. It’s a point of view that wonderfully matches my own motto: “I am who I am and I can’t act differently”.

You probably are wondering now what this topic is about. This post is about the essay’s from Michel De Montaigne, written between 1571 and 1592 (but still very actual today) and a book with the intriguing title “The Grey Writings” by Josep Pla and written between 1918 and 1920.

Both authors share a great ability to observe and put things in perspective without wanting to lecture us.

In his pre-face Michel the Montaigne writes (and I quote): “This book, dear reader, is one of good face. … It is only intended for my friends and relatives: if I slip away (which will soon be the case) they can find something about my nature and my moods in there and can thus keep my memory alive. … I want them to see me in my simplicity, just as I am, casual and unadorned. … Here will be plainly shown, as far as decency permits, both my flaws as well as my natural shape. … So, reader, I form myself the substance of this book; you would be crazy to spend your time on a topic as frivolous and vain. So farewell.” Then a series of thoughts is following in over 1400 (!!) pages.

Josep Pla describes in the form of a diary how he experiences his life in Catalonia. The critic of Le Monde put it in this way: “His universal spirit has nourished itself by the humus of his small village.” And the text of the publisher, on the back cover of the book, I can only agree with: “in this apparently so casually written book, Pla condenses with a superior irony the full and all-pervading greyness of every day’s life. It is a collage of ‘choses vues’…”

Why do I want to share this with you? What has this to do with grief and bereavement? The explanation might shock you.

There have been quite a few times in my life I had to say goodbyes and not only because death separated me from a loved one. Circumstances can also lead to loss, so everybody will probably know a yet living “dead”. Anyway, all these experiences have taught me at a young age that I shouldn’t make things bigger than they really are. As in teaching my three-year-old granddaughter how she can cope with a small loss: “it’s okay, it’s part of the game.” It is what it is.

The sooner we learn that grief and pain are an inseparable part of life, there is nothing else we can do then to breathe deeply and to straighten our back, the better we can deal with life again. Of course in this vision will be room for compassion, to give or receive consolation but, most of all, these will be only ointments for our soul. But what we all, those who are still living, have to prevent at all costs is self-pity, searching for those who are willing to listen to our complaints and – the worst thing that can happen to you – is to keep sticking in the internal groove of being pity.

Science knows it already for a long time: eventually the terrestrial bacteria colony will survive all of us in blissful ignorance of our daily worries.

That’s why it’s not crazy to have a party and to have fun every day. A very small party will do. Act as Pla and Montaigne; observe with a smile, open your eyes and enjoy the first butterfly you see in your garden. Focus on the sunray that tickles along the dark curtain and enters your room and let that warm your day and your heart.

Phew, this post now starting to lecture you something. That’s not its intention. Let me conclude with something that happened to me this morning. I wanted to throw a postcard away that was in my kitchen because of its beautifully colored drawing on the front. Before the card disappeared in the waste bin I looked at it one more time.

It turned out that the drawing contains a small text which I saw for the first time. It said in Dutch “Niet getreurd of somber gedacht, later heb je niet voor niets gewacht” or translated in English “do not be sad or have gloomy thoughts, later you will not have been waiting in vain”. The drawing shows a cat sitting on the kitchen counter and is looking longingly to the big fish that lays on the plate of his owner.

I wish you all a great and lovely spring season!