Her last wish
My daughter Anne Birgit knew she was going to die. Her last wish was that I would coach and guide people who had lost a loved one.
Anne Birgit died in 2000, at the age of 21. Shortly after her birth it was already known that she suffered from Cystic Fibrosis. It had an enormous impact on us as parents. Not only because she suffered from this disease, but especially because she was expected to die at a (very) young age. The result was also that from year to year we wondered whether that year would not be her last.
A broken heart
My wife and soul mate Mary Anne died in 2011. She struggled with the loss of our daughter. She did not want or could not accept any form of help and support to deal with the loss. And certainly not from me because I too was struggling with the loss of our daughter. In the end my wife died of a broken heart.
In the week before her death I received a card from a woman I had coached. She indicated that she found me a special and beautiful light on her path in life. I remember talking to my wife about this over the weekend before she died. She suggested, no… even insisted that this form of coaching should become my future life path. At the same time, in her usual way, it was a subtle reminder to fulfil our daughter’s last wish.
The end of my professional life
In 2013, I retired after a working life that gave me enormous satisfaction. However, there was one disadvantage to that working life: I was very much away from home. I no longer have any idea how often I travelled around the world, how many cities I saw, let alone how many hotels I slept in. As a result, I consider myself a citizen of the world.
As a management consultant and as a project manager, I had always been able to see not only the fun but also the stress in my environment. I could see this in others … but not in myself. The result was that after I retired my body was tired and wanted to recover from all the stress I had built up in recent years. Of course, there was also the loss of my wife and my daughter. This became clear when I accidentally discovered in mid-2013 that my process of mourning had finally begun … after years!
It was time to finally fulfil my daughter’s last wish. Promising is one thing, doing it was of a completely different order.
All beginnings are difficult
You are not the only one who must deal with mourning in one way or another. Through this blog I would like to share with you the journey I have made so far and still make. I want to share with you the lessons I have learned and am still learning.
My journey, or perhaps better, my path to mourning, runs along subjects such as understanding, letting go, you thought it was over and there’s always some residue of pain left. In my opinion, the core of mourning comes down to get everything out of life and, despite all the suffering, also a little bit of enjoyment.
In addition to this blog, in accordance with her last wish, a foundation was set up in the Netherlands under the name Stichting Jouw Rouwverwerking. The aim of the foundation is to help others in coping with loss and to help them with their grief and mourning. Outside the Netherlands, the foundation is called Mourn & Grief Foundation.
It is clear to me that I cannot do this on my own. I cannot change the world on my own. What I can do is change myself and hopefully I can also teach others that things can be done differently. Hopefully, you will spread the news. You never know what will happen in the future, but I hope I can make a difference with the foundation, even if it is only a small difference.
For the writing of the blogs in the field of grief and mourning, the foundation has received contributions from several authors.
Text updated: 21-10-2020