The art of letting go

February 14 2024 - Living the expat life


While 2023 turned into 2024, I learned a lesson about acceptance and letting go.

Acceptance and letting go are topics that often come up with my coaching clients. For instance, when they are faced with disappointment or adversity. When they need to overcome a setback. Or when things simply don’t go their way.

Recently, I was facing this challenge myself.

In early December 2023, my father was admitted to the ICU unexpectedly. I immediately flew back to the Netherlands to be with him. I cleared my appointments and allowed myself some time and space. But as days became weeks, I felt more and more pressure to keep all the balls in the air. I wanted to fit everything into my schedule: visits to my father, client meetings, emails…  And while my colleagues kept encouraging me to take the time I needed and to be with my family, I simply struggled to let go. To let go of my work. To let go of the plans for our Christmas holiday. To let go of the business trips and meetings planned for early 2024. I just wanted to go on.

Looking back, I realise that my need to keep everything under control meant that I had not at all accepted the situation that I was in; that my father was in the ICU, fighting for his life.

I was so busy trying to find ways to keep all these balls in the air that I barely had time to consider the biggest and most precious ball I was balancing: my father’s health and my fear, grief and sadness for his concerning condition.

It was only when I realised that being in the moment mattered now more than ever that I could finally accept the situation and let go of the need to keep control. It had taken me some weeks, but I had finally accepted that life happens. And that life was happening right now.

What followed was a short and intense period of deep connection and belonging with my father in his final days. Love, grief, courage, grace, laughter, sadness, despair, and faith – all these feelings had now found a space to emerge. To be.

In the end, it was my father who taught me the ultimate lesson in acceptance and letting go. Watching him accept his fate and let go of his life and loved ones with such dignity, grace, and trust has left a deep and everlasting impression on me.

Accepting and letting go is probably one of the hardest things to do in life. But when we do, it opens our hearts to love, compassion and gratefulness. And that’s what keeps us going into 2024.