(131) Found Letter

The Cederberg Mountains are bathed in deep blue;
in each curve of shape, I recall your presence,
in the bodies of contour, each incline is you.

Ripe for the sickle, you cut my right through,
overwhelmed by a sense of deepening sentience.
In the bodies of contour, each incline is you.

The tongue of the moon in the morning dew
held me, excited by your effervescence.
The Cederberg Mountains are bathed in deep blue.

The wrinkled old shirt you slowly outgrew
I keep smoothing out for remembrance.
In the bodies of contour, each incline is you.

Will I never forget the night that you flew,
I’m still filled with a sense of your essence;
the Cederberg Mountains are bathed in deep blue.

In letters I thought lost, again I have found you,
elliptical lines brimfull with your presence.
The Cederberg Mountains are bathed in deep blue.
In the bodies of contour, each incline is you.

The author of this villanella is Robin Willinck-Mellish
and it is posted with her approval.

The poem describes the loss of her partner and comes from: “Messages from the Bees,” by Robin Willinck-Mellish, printed by “African Book Collective,” ISBN 978192821535

(130) It’s different now

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.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

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 and the journey wasn’t easy. Now I take all te time I need. It feels serene like floating as a leaf on water.

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.

(129) Goodbye Annette, I will miss you

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

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!

Annette

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!

(128) The Gift

The cardiac arrest I suffered in January last year had quite an impact on my life. And, despite that, it also turned out to be a beautiful gift. It took me a while to write the recent blog.

The past year

The path that followed in the past year had periods where it felt turbulent and serene at other times, and sometimes these alternated rapidly. It was an intense period and I regularly felt like a bouncing ball … you know, like a ping pong ball bouncing on a stone floor.

I had expected early last year that I had learned to deal with the big losses in my life … the loss of Anne Birgit, my daughter, and Mary-Anne, my spouse. I thought that in doing so I had simultaneously learned to deal with the other losses in my life. On the contrary, during the training as a professional grief counsellor at the “Land van Rouw” and completed in the same period, I encountered layers of loss and grief from my childhood and adolescence … such as the lack of love, as if I did not matter, was not seen by my parents and grandparents and, was not taught the language of love and emotions. Hence, putting my feelings into words is quite a task. Although I was aware of this, the understanding struck me like lightning out of the blue.

In a clear moment

That clear moment came after a conversation with one of the supervisors of the program. It came down to this:

– Sometimes I feel fine, sometimes, let us subtly phrase it, not so fine. In fact, I am constantly in a state of survival because of the lack of love from my parents and grandparents. As if I did not matter, was not acknowledged, not seen by them and, had no right to exist.

– I have not had a chance. From my parents and grandparents, I have not learned to feel and to love. As a result, I am at a tremendous disadvantage. My neurological connections related to feeling and love are only beginning to appear now … decades later.

– When you recall moments from your childhood. What do you encounter inside? Be exceptionally curious about the why and try to articulate that from there.

– But I do not have words … words I am searching for describing my emotions … and words give limitations at the same time. Then start by describing your bodily sensations. Words will come naturally … and sometimes they will not.

– Learn to trust your body! Well … feeling is one thing with me … it is my weak point. Feeling is and remains for me a work in progress. I used to learn from people’s assessments that strong points also have a complementary side; I am (very) good at … also has a shadow side. In short, can I use my impotence about feeling and emotions as a strong point?

The gift
The Gift
The Gift

As I was writing this, two lines from Anne Birgit on her urn came back to my mind:

“Do what your heart tells you …
Do not be afraid with what you do!”

Those simple words from my daughter on her urn, empower me to continue my life’s path with confidence. That is a wonderful gift, isn’t it?

So what is that life path?

Share loss and grief experiences, both professionally and from personal experiences to others in similar situations to help them to learn to cope with their loss and grief … and to get on with their lives again. They may even discover possibilities they had not previously thought possible.

In sharing my experiences, I am thinking primarily of:

  • Counseling parents who are about to lose or have lost a child.
  • People counseling who are terminally ill.
  • Counseling people in learning to cope with their loss and grief in general.

As I look at it now, I am sure the list will get longer. We’ll see.

I hope to meet you in person or on this website or the Foundation’s Facebook page.

With heartfelt greetings,
Hans Fransen

(113) Let your sun, shine again

There will always be a small black edge visible, but if you can shine your sun again, even with help from others, yellow will dominate again in your life. A golden yellow sun brings beautiful new sparkles in your life.

Divorcing twice from the same man, didn’t I learn my lesson? Was going through that deep valley full of tears once with intense pain and hellish conflicts to divide our possessions not enough?

No, apparently, I wasn’t ready after my first divorce and I had to give our family another chance. At the time I put a line through our past, and bravely stepped into our relationship again with a clean slate. After all, wouldn’t it be great if we were to grow old together. I had to do it for our family, for our relatives and for our surroundings who always saw us as the perfect family. I myself wanted to give my dream of growing old together with our little family another chance and bring it back to life.

To my sense I fought and fought for our marriage until I almost collapsed. My head told me every day … come on you can do it, and you belong together, right? But more and more my body started to protest, and again I had health problems. My body had been telling me for quite some time that daily stress, tensions and quarrels weren’t good for me. After all, your brain, body and soul work together and they send signals. When I realized where my health problems came from, and that I pulled our children into our daily tensions and disagreements, this awakened me from my dream, and I had to choose for myself. It was the hardest choice in my life. A sense of having failed as a mother, and as a partner, but also having to deal with fears and uncertainties, and how to proceed on my own.  Because the financial de-entanglement was very complex, the separation process took a long time and that made my grieving process even more raw. Living in uncertainty, high costs hanging over your head, and not knowing what to expect in the divorce process, means that you will hardly be able to process your grief, because after I made my choice I ended up in a mourning process.

Awareness that you are in a mourning process is very important for processing your grief. Awareness ensures that you dare to admit your grief and pain, and that you don’t run away from it. The fears and uncertainties that look around the corner, create doubts that make you falter to run back to the old familiar life. This is because your brains are so used to your old life and have been programmed in such a way that they think that that old life suits you best. Don’t sit in resentment and anger either, because that can also hinder you and prevent you from seeing anymore the beautiful things in your life. In order to proceed, to persevere and to stay with your choice, it is good to regularly ask yourself the following question in your grieving process:

What positive points have emerged from my divorce so far? My answers to this question show me that I am not only concerned with what I have lost. Insight into the positive developments strengthens you to see your future in a sunny way.

I am still sad sometimes and I still must deal with uncertainties, and fears, but I also notice that I have grown enormously as a person after the breakup of our family. The entire divorce process has made me stronger as a person, and the development process has made me grow. Dealing with setbacks in your life will strengthen you if you can give it a positive twist. It helps you to move on.

Grief may be there, but don’t let grief be the predominant factor for the rest of your life. Seek help if you find yourself getting stuck. As a Mental Coach myself, I have not walked this path alone. I too have enlisted help from others to vent and organize my thoughts. It is so important not to get stuck in your own processes and to allow yourself to be broken by your grieving process.

There will always be a small black edge visible, but if you can shine your sunshine again with any help from others, yellow will dominate again in your life. Yellow stands for optimism, growth and energy. Being able to see joy again and zest for life. And a golden yellow sun in your life even brings beautiful new sparkles in your life.