‘Trigger Moments’ – those unexpected moments that arrive unexpectedly, ambush us without consent, and bring us back to a time and place with a loved one who has died.

Those moments can be sweet and at the same time, they can cause deep pain, intensifying our desire to have “just one more week – one more day – one more opportunity to share in laughter, conversation, creativity, travel, holy silence” together.

Today was such a day for me.  Whenever my husband or I had a medical appointment, the other went along as company for the ride and as companion for reviewing what had transpired in the appointment.  Today was my first appointment with a new specialist.  But instead of “we” going, it was just “me.” Alone.

Sitting in the office, tears flowed down my face and I was helpless to stop them.
Trigger moment.

I wanted to go outside and “get over it.”  But instead, I let the tears flow; did some deep breathing; and acknowledged that the tears and sadness were part of the grief experience (aka – I wasn’t “losing it”).

Friends from out of town had arrived last night in their big RV and the plan was for the three of us to play tourist in my little car after my appointment this morning. But I wasn’t up to it and knew that I needed to “care for my husband’s wife – me.”  I encouraged them to borrow my car and play tourist on their own.  They understood.  So with maps and the “what to see in the area” suggestions I’d given them, they were off for the afternoon.

While they were away, I found comfort in sitting on our deck beside the chair my husband used, sipping cold lemonade, enjoying the peace, quiet and beauty of our back yard, feeling his presence in a gentle way and knowing that eventually I would get over that unexpected trigger moment that left me reeling with the pain of loss.

Trigger moments are a natural part of healing from loss.  I know that.  But all the same, I don’t like them.  And there will be another trigger moment – guaranteed.  And likely when least expected.

What to do?  Hopefully, the tears will flow; deep breathing will happen; an acknowledgement that tears and sadness are part of the grief experience will be understood; and there will be a recognition and acceptance that in time, healing will come.

It’s all part of the life journey.   After all,
– at the moment our loved one entered our life, we began a process of change and learning.  We entered a new phase of life’s journey.
– at the moment our loved one left our life, we began a new process of learning and change.  We entered another new phase of our life’s journey.
– and in grieving time, a process of change again … yet another new phase on life’s journey of learning and ‘becoming.‘ 

As difficult as are the ‘trigger moments’ of grief, may we welcome and allow them space and time to bring healing.

© Photo and Text: June Maffin
Our ChairsOverlookingGarden-DSCN9980



My DH Hans and I shared the same philosophy about life … and death.
We believe that “we all come to this world to learn; do our part in making this world a better place through actions, words and thoughts of lovingkindness; create, play and celebrate life; and then move on to the next learning.”  <june maffin>

Sadly, some of us “move on” too soon and for far too many, it’s due to some form of the dreaded “C” word: cancer.

If you know someone who
– fought a battle against cancer and died
is a cancer survivor, but still struggling
– is grieving the loss of someone whose loved one left this earth because of cancer
as today is Cancer Survivor Day, let’s look beyond the view of this photo
(view from the top of Malahat Mountain on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada of Finlayson
remember and envision them all
with hope in our hearts that they are now “beyond” and at peace;
and remember them with prayers of thanksgiving for their love and friendship.

May the day come soon when there is no longer a “Cancer-Anything” Day other than to celebrate its cure!

<Remembering beloved husband, Hans van der Werff, two-time cancer survivor and who on the third go-round died on June 26, 2016.
May he and all who are no longer with us in person, but will always be with us in our heart and memories, rest in peace.>

Photo and Text © June Maffin   Soulistry





Mother Nature gifts us with spectacular colours, shapes, intricate designs
such as this Martha Washington Geranium (aka ‘Pelagonium’)
we spotted at the top of the Malahat Mountain on Vancouver Island
reminding us that beauty, hope, life are all around
though we don’t always “see” them.
When we open our eyes and see, truly see,
we may be surprised by the discoveries
… before us
… around us
… within us

May we always be on the lookout for the ‘discoveries’ of life
waiting for us to see, experience, enjoy, celebrate!

Photo and Text © June Maffin
Aging and Play

Aging and Play

H&J-Raft Boat Adventure-DSCN9865Whether we want it to, or not.
Whether we welcome it, or not.
Whether we celebrate it, or not.
Aging happens.

*Growing old* is different.
Growing old is more than chronology.
Growing old is about attitude and
growing old is about play.

When we stop playing, we stop delighting in life; we stop being hopeful; we grow old.
“We grow old when we stop playing.”  <George Bernard Shaw> 

While I may be chronologically aging (more quickly than I wish) and my body may be showing its age (a bit more every day), I refuse to grow old.

Play is my middle name – even if it’s only a few minutes each day.   In this grieving process, some days are more difficult to include a play-filled activity than other days.  But I make a conscious effort.  A few days ago, was one such day.

There was no rational explanation.  The sadness and profound sense of loss just was there – big time.  I could feel the waves of grief tumble and erupt.  I could feel my body experiencing the loss of my husband in an overwhelming sense of exhaustion.  So I decided to head outdoors and take a short walk around the block.

On my little walk, I encountered a little girl who was singing a familiar melody while she walked her dog and I began to hum the melody – it was my ‘play’ for the day!  It was just a few seconds – but it was play and I felt a hint of joy as the tears tumbled down my face because I wanted to tell my husband about this lovely encounter.  Then as I walked back home, a smile began to form on my face – because I did tell him.  🙂

When we play, joy begins to emerge.  Whether we are encountering a familiar melody sung by a little girl walking her dog, or dancing, or doodling, or engaging in board games, or strolling along the beach, or playing bridge, or are involved in a sport, or interacting on the internet, or playing an instrument, or sharing a meal with a friend, or creating anything (be that a handmade card, a tool shed, a dress, a poem, a painting, a piece of calligraphy, a meal, a book, a piece of pottery, a magazine article, a computer program, a piece of sculpture, a photograph, a mandala, a garden, a scrapbook, a bookcase … whatever!), we begin to realize that there is still life within us, hope emerges, and joy has space to flower.

There is such wisdom in the words …“We don’t stop playing because we’re old.
We grow old because we stop playing.”  Thank you, George Bernard Shaw.

© text and photo: june maffin



I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately.  Blessed to be married to the love of my life, as singer Tom Jones sang, love was “in the air” in our home on a daily basis.  

The ‘gentle-giant-of-a-born-in-Holland-man’, Hans van der Werff and I met late in life.  Friendship grew, and as love developed, it deepened, day by day.  Life was a joy to be fully celebrated, shared and loved!   And then having survived skin cancer and colon cancer, esophageal cancer attacked, quickly metastasized and he died June 26, 2016.

Thanks to memories of our ‘together times’ (our travels, laughter, wonderful conversations, moments of silence and oneness, creative Studio-times, our mutual curiosity about life, the playfulness approach to life we shared, and the love which was expressed in so many ways), he is and will always be alive in my mind and heart.

And yet … and yet … while memories are wonderful, the sadness that accompanies grief prevails, and I ask myself “how, when, where can I continue to live a life where peace prevails and ‘love is in the air,’ now that he is no longer by my side?”

I have been a life-long, firm believer that there is always at least one thing at the end of the day (even on the very difficult days of life) for which I can be grateful.  An attitude of gratitude helped both Hans and I through some rough times in recent years.

So as I pondered my self-imposed question, I realized that the answer lay in the continuation of an attitude of gratitude for the blessings in my life: the big, the small, the magical, the ordinary, the extraordinary, the Mystical, the seen and unseen, the known and unknown.

In the midst of grief, of loss, of sadness, I choose life.

I choose to hold fast to the joy-filled memories.  I choose to remember the hope that the grief-clouds will lift.  I choose to acknowledge the glimpses of that precious ‘peace that passes understanding.’  I choose to have an attitude of gratitude for the blessings in my life.  I choose to be a container of peace and love.   And I choose to believe that (as Dame Julian of Norwich penned) “All shall be well.  All shall be well.  And all manner of things shall be well.”  

I like Dame Julian’s words.  They aren’t namby-pamby-words, saying “suck it up, buttercup.”   Rather, they are a pointer … a pointer to the future.  Whether that future is here on planet earth (or in the afterlife / third dimension / by-whatever-name), “all” really “shall be” well and ‘wellness’ shall become a reality.  I am grateful for much, so very much.  I believe that abiding in a life where “love is in the air”  is a matter of intention, focus, gratitude and that in doing so, the memory of my loved one will be honoured and I the grief will begin to dissipate.

Whenever there is loss, at any level, in any situation (be that in our personal lives or on the global scene), there is grief.  We must not deny our feelings time and space to surface. We must allow ourselves to enter and experience the grief, for in doing so, healing will come.

May “love in the air” be in thoughts, words, actions, in some small way each and every day in every corner of this aching world.

© June Maffin
Hans van der Werff
DSCN3344 DSCF0090H&J-CatherineTookPhoto2014 copy




Through a cloud of sadness,
love shines.


Long before I knew him, our paths began to intersect.
Some call it “fate”; some call it “co-incidence.”
We called it “Divine Love.”

In Montreal, he and his family lived
about three blocks away from my family.
In North Vancouver, he lived a few miles away from me.
On the Sunshine Coast, his family had a summer cottage
in the community I worked.

We never met in any of those places.

And when we met, by happenstance at a Christmas Fair,
it wasn’t “love” or “sparks,”
it was simply a meeting of two people who shared common interests
and who began to grow in friendship.

And then ‘love’ entered the scene
… not between the two of us (just yet)
but through a rescue dog –
his little King Charles spaniel named Shandy.

As the years passed and the friendship he and I shared, grew.
‘Love’ entered the spaces
that had been empty for far-too-long.
He asked me to marry him.
But, I said “No, not yet.”
Then he asked again
and again and again.

One day, he phoned and asked me to go
for an afternoon drive with him
… we often did that.
He came by with Shandy, picked me up and off we went.
And on a bench overlooking the ocean at Qualicum Beach, again, he asked me to marry him.

And this time, I knew that the obstacles we had talked about were nothing if we faced them together.
I realized that his love for me was so deep
as was mine for him
and that spending the rest of our lives together,
no matter how long, how short,
was part of “Divine Love.”

Six weeks later
he had sold his house; I had sold my house;
a new home was purchased
and we were married, October 17, 2009.
It was a day marked by ‘clouds,’
But we knew that we would face any and all clouds together.
We were the love of each other’s lives.

Laughter filled our home; deep conversations filled our home.
Joy and peace and hope filled our home.
Divine Love filled our home.

And this morning, my beloved took his leave of this Planet Earth
but never, never ever, takes his leave of my heart.

He joins others in that Great-Scriptorium-in-the-Sky,
and is singing in that lovely voice of his
while calligraphically-rendering the six words of his reality:
“It is well with my soul.”

Through a cloud of sadness,
love shines.

Rest in peace my beloved, Hans.
Rest in peace.
<Hans van der Werff April 29, 1929 – June 26, 2016>

© june maffin

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