How a Perfect Day in Cape Town Can Go The Other Way

Berend Lange

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Three years ago today, Friday the 23rd of April 2004 was a brilliantly beautiful autumn day in Cape Town - warm, sunny and calm. The perfection of the universe was showing off in a spectacular fashion, and for most people it must have been difficult to see the other, darker side of the coin inherent in every aspect of the world we experience.

For me it wasn't, because my father passed away on that day, just before his 83rd birthday.

This was utterly unexpected because my father was visibly enjoying his life - he always liked to be active around the house and garden and had the strength to do a million little things every day.

That's what he was doing on Wednesday morning, but that night we had to get him to a hospital in a hurry and the fact that he died not even 48 hours later was difficult to understand.

To cope with a loss is not easy and for most of us, grieving is how we react to a tragic event - we feel helpless and sink into emptiness and despair, questioning the apparent futility of it all to regain our sanity.

We think that grief and sorrow are inseparable and believe this process is necessary to overcome the pain and to eventually accept what has happened.

But what if we knew, without a doubt, that there are no accidents in our intelligent universe?

That we have to experience loss in order to learn a valuable lesson, that we have something to gain from catastrophe and death.

I am lucky in that I never had to encounter any devastating blows in my life, so I am not an authority on the subject. But what if we chose not to suffer over a loss which we will ultimately recognize as beneficial anyway? This is not how we are supposed to react, of course, in our European cultural environment.

But I believe that in the western world, what we mostly lament is our own loss, and not so much the fate of the deceased. In other societies, death is an occasion for celebration - I have seen this myself in Bali.

They know, even in times of mourning, that the universe's timing of people's arrival and departure on this planet should not be questioned - everything is in perfect order, even painful experiences.

Is the loss of a loved one different from losing worldly possessions? Yes, definitely. Once gone, family members cannot be replaced, ever. But they live on in our memories, whilst the loss of a house, money or a job should be forgotten as soon as possible and stimulate us to move on to even better things.

The basic underlying challenge here is change, and whether we think we can cope with it. I know that my father is where he is supposed to be right now, and I accept his schedule - I'll just have to learn to live without him.

"You can be, do and have anything you want" - this is Berend Lange's credo. With his BLUE CRANE label, he works internationally as a Copywriter and Marketing Consultant to develop Public Relations with businesses that have something to say - in English and in German, anywhere in the world. He knows that sustained success in business cannot be achieved without growing as a person.

After 22 years as a German expatriate in South Africa, Berend has just returned to Europe and settled in Austria. BLUE CRANE is all about growth in business and life and on his BLUE CRANE website and COMPASS Blog and eNewsletter he offers encouragement, advice and a fresh perspective on how to overcome the challenges we face. Subscribe to COMPASS today on


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