(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

(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.

(59) Listen To Your Heart

I didn’t see it coming. Based on the questions I got during the various examinations, I slowly discovered that all kinds of complaints I used to have could be related to problems with my heart. The moments I had those complaints though, I thought the cause was related to the job, the many hours I worked, the stress, the trips I made and the fatigue as a result of this. No moment I was considering I had a problem with my heart.

shutterstock_176080721During communication training sessions and during spiritual gatherings you often hear the phrase “listen to your heart.” In contrast with your thinking, your head, your feelings are meant. My best days turn out to be those days when my feelings and my thinking are in balance. Some people swear by it and others find it rubbish or even vague. But that aside.

The phrase “listen to your heart” has also an interpretation that is overlooked by many people. An interpretation in the literal sense of… How is your heart beating? Does it beat regular? Not too fast or not too slow? Do you hear some noise maybe? Is your blood pressure fine? Are you easily tired or out of breath? Don’t you fancy anything to do or don’t you get anything done?

It happened to me. On a sunny morning that promised much for the day, I woke up and lazily stretched myself. Bang it did on the left side of my chest. It didn’t even really hurt, but it did feel annoying. During my life I’ve felt worse pain; those moments I took a painkiller and after a short time everything was fine again. This time I took a painkiller too and during the day I forgot about the pain.

The next morning I woke up again with that little bit of pain on the left side of my breast. Furthermore I had dreamt that night that I would die in a couple of months. In the preceding weeks I had that dream more often. Only this time the dream was more insistent, as if it was a last warning. Still today, this dream is very clear in my mind.

People often dream. Me too, but the difference is that each time I can remember my dream the next day in all its details, it is a portentous dream to me. Yes you can laugh about it, but those type of dreams most of the time turned out to be true.

Because of the seriousness of the dream, in combination with the pain in my chest, I decided to call the family doctor. After some explanation I could come for a consultation immediately. From the examination the doctor could hear some noise from the heart and I was referred to a center for cardiologic examinations were I also could go to immediately. That same day I was admitted into hospital and almost 5 weeks later I came home again after having had two open heart operations. As soon as my breast bone is completely healed a heart revalidation process starts that takes weeks, maybe months.

The 5 stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) of Elisabeth Kübler Ross’ process of mourning.

Not everybody may agree with me, but for me it is comparable with bereavement. It is the same quest from denial to acceptance and again a central theme with questions like: do I become my old self again, because this moment, two weeks after the last operation, it doesn’t feel that way. And if not, what are my limitations? In short, how to proceed from here?

At this moment I have no idea how to proceed. When there is one thing I have learned in the past, is to adopt a positive attitude. And today I learn and have learned again that your attitude not only strongly determines how you walk through your process of grieving, but also determines the speed at which you go through the grieving process. The faster you go through the process the sooner you can go on with your life; not only that, it also improves your healing process. It is said in a few words, but it does the job; I know it all too well from experience. It’s like a dance, two steps ahead and one back. Eventually you will arrive where you should be.

I didn’t see it coming. Based on the questions I got during the various examinations, I slowly discovered that all kinds of complaints I used to have could be related to problems with my heart. The moments I had those complaints though, I thought the cause was related to the job, the many hours I worked, the stress, the trips I made and the fatigue as a result of this. No moment I was considering I had a problem with my heart.

Let this be a warning to you. Listen to your heart! In particular when you feel quickly tired or you are short of breath! In particular when you don’t get anything done! Especially when you have pain in your breast, even if it’s just a little bit! Discuss it with your family doctor. It could happen to you too that you be at home again after days, if not even weeks.