My life changing journey
My life changing journey started when my best friend received a devastating diagnosis; she was terminally ill with cancer.
She was given only a few weeks to live and her final wish was to get out of the hospital and to spend her remaining weeks peacefully at home. Before her diagnosis, she had already known that when her time would come, she would choose to end her pain and suffering with the help of euthanasia. Euthanasia is legal here in the Netherlands and I deeply admired her courageous decision.
Against many advices, my husband and I decided to invite our friend into our home for her final days, where we could offer her the dignified ending she wanted. It wasn’t an easy decision as it would impact our entire family and my work. I needed to stay home and be by her side. During this time, I worked full time as a Senior Marketing Director, managing a team across Europe.
Every day of her final weeks required a lot of courage. Every morning when I woke up, I never knew what to expect. Each day was an emotional rollercoaster full of love, pain, sadness, gratitude, fear, hope and anger. At home, I could keep up my spirits and function day to day, but as soon as I left the house, I broke into tears.
When my dear friend’s final day arrived, it was heart wrenching. My friend was fearful, but stood behind her decision to end her life. I could only continue to admire her incredible strength and courage. When the doctor arrived and completed the euthanasia procedure the oxygen machine was silenced and our house became eerily quiet.
Months following her passing involved a lot of self-reflection. I returned to work a few weeks after her death. It was clear that I was going through a depression. I hadn’t had the time to grieve and my mother convinced me to take a very needed holiday. I went to a yoga retreat where I finally had to stop and face my grief. I had a small breakdown.
As months passed by, I was trying to keep up appearances, but I knew I wasn’t doing well. My husband and I decided that it was the time to follow one of our dreams to travel to Brazil for 2 months. Although there was push-back from work and I was certain that it would impact my career, we decided this was more important and we took our chance.
I set goals for myself on this trip; I needed to determine what truly made me happy and what was my true calling. The one clear thought running through my head was that life is too short to stick to routine that no longer inspires you.
During our trip I completed a course in positive psychology. I also started my day running on the beach and I slept 9 hours every night. I spent quality time with my children and my husband. It was a trip of self care and slowly I started to feel better and my thoughts became clearer.
As soon as we returned home from Brazil, I submitted my resignation at work. The catalyst for my decision was the need to start searching for my passion and follow my dreams. I wasn’t sure where this search would lead to, but it didn’t matter. I needed to take the first step.
I am forever grateful to my dearest friend, who inspired me and gave me the courage to change and step into the unknown. I hope this story inspires you to reflect on your life and make necessary changes, without having to go through something as dramatic as I had to go through with my beloved friend.