(120) Without Parents

Without parents, I was the only daughter responsible for the things that had to be arranged. I had to learn a lot without their guidance.

Without parents

As an only child, I grew up with my mother and father. The bond with my father was better than the bond with my mother. How bad that bond was, became clear later when she suddenly left with the northern sun, on her way to a new life with another family. I stayed behind with my father. The years went on when my father unexpectedly died in his sleep. I was 29 at the time.

On paper I still had a mother, of course, but there had been no contact with her for years. That meant that without parents I was the only daughter responsible for the things that had to be arranged

What I bumped into

My father’s funeral

The first thing to start with was arranging the funeral. I had no idea what was involved and knew nothing of the things that had to be done. It was quite intense to decide what the service should look like, which coffin and card to choose, and many other things. Often you do that together with your mother or maybe a brother or sister, but there were none.

After the funeral, my father’s house had to be delivered. I came across a lot of stuff with memories attached to it, which made it difficult to choose which stuff went away and which did not. It was not possible to keep everything myself; I simply didn’t have room for that in my own house. After a month, the house was empty.

I remember the last time I closed the door. It was a difficult moment, because from now on my father’s house was gone. I didn’t have a home anymore where we had so many memories together. After that, the estate had to be settled. I had no experience with this either. I learned a lot of things from this that I didn’t know yet.

The contact with my family

My dad had a big family. Most of them soon went back to normal.  I kept in touch with three uncles and aunts. We had regular contact for about the first two years. We called each other and came to visit each other. That was nice. Especially because family feels familiar and I have known them all my life. When my uncle smiles, I always see my father’s face in him. From time to time they told stories about the old days, about things my father did and what they had experienced with him. That was nice to hear.

But they too had their own lives, and the contacts became less and less. It was exceedingly difficult for me when an aunt with whom I had a lot of contact ran out of time when she had grandchildren. She wanted to because she was so busy that I would always contact her. She didn’t see or understand that I missed it the other way around. By now I haven’t heard anything for a couple of years. Now, after ten years I can say that I still have contact with one uncle and aunt of the three occasionally.  I don’t hear or see the rest of my family anymore.

My peers

Another point I quickly encountered was that my peers did not understand my grief. Often in their twenties or early thirties, they still had their immediate family around them and with that an unconditional network. Holidays, birthdays, fun and less fun things were still experienced together. They had no idea what it was like to do this on your own.

If they didn’t know something, or needed help with something, they asked their parents. I couldn’t do that. I tried to bring it up but was often told that they didn’t see their parents very often either. Or that you must make something of it yourself. While in my opinion they didn’t do that themselves, because if they wanted to, they could still rely on their parents. It also happened that people distanced themselves from me when I tried to bring it up. It was something I think they would rather not be confronted with.

The birth of my daughter

Five years after my father died, my daughter was born. I gave birth in the hospital, but my parents didn’t come to see her. They didn’t call to see how things were going. Of course, I knew in advance that they wouldn’t be there. But once the moment was there, it was extremely hard. Our daughter had to stay a little longer in the hospital. During Easter we were still there, but nobody came to visit us those days, we didn’t get any calls. That felt very lonely.

Lack of immediate family members

I’m sure it’s not meant to hurt. But it does indicate what happens when you’re nobody’s daughter or sister. Often your immediate family is close to you. They know you your whole life, are involved with you.

Your family members who are further away like your uncles and aunts, cousins, but also your friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. All these people are often further away from you than your immediate family. Of course, they also have their own lives in which you do not fall into their immediate family. Often, they don’t feel the need or ‘pressure’ to take an extra step. Something that does happen to an immediate family member.  After all, they are already busy with their own family and relatives. You just have contact now and then or talk to each other from time to time. This means that not everything is seen. In recent years I have often noticed this.

The lack of grandpas and grandmas

Just like when my daughter’s throat and nose tonsils were removed. In the recovery room the other children were called by grandpa and grandma. No one called my daughter. A few days or weeks later people did ask how it had been. But not on the day itself, which is so important.

Five days a week I stand in the schoolyard between the many grandparents, but my parents are never there. These are two of the many examples that the lack is everywhere and what is often not seen by the environment. My experience is that the older my daughter gets, the more it is missing. Who comes to visit when she is sick? Who will be there when she gets her swimming certificate? For many people the answer to these questions is obvious, not for me though.

Without parents, I was the only daughter responsible for the things that had to be arranged. I had to learn a lot without their guidance.

I find the lack of an unconditional network and involvement exceedingly difficult. Eventually I also got complaints and went to the doctor. Then you enter the path of help. But that’s not always blissful. Often you must deal with a waiting list. Before you qualify for an interview, this can take a long time.

On several occasions during those conversations, it emerged that the authority in question could not offer me any help. The lack of a support figure, they could not help me. The process was then not even started. They also investigated the deployment of a volunteer. It was concluded that this was no solution. A volunteer is often only temporary, and after one year for example, an unconditional network is still lacking.

Then you can see that a counsellor doesn’t understand the problem. For example, I was with a lady who kept stressing that I had to think positively. She also had exercises for it. When I discussed those exercises with her, it always turned out that a support figure was missing. She had no answer to that. You can still be so positive in life, but at the bottom of the line I don’t have a network to fall back on, and most people around me do. She sent me to a psychologist.

The psychologist in turn concluded that positive thinking did not help in this situation and that he could not help me because he could not do anything about the lack of a support figure. It was a social thing, he said, that people are focused on themselves today. This was also what the last professional I had conversations with said.

In the end I concluded that people who at a young age no longer had parents could run into certain problems, but that at the moment there is simply no help for that. There is no body that can do this.

What would have helped me


What would have helped me now, I guess?  It would have helped me a lot of people had understood how intense it is to suddenly be without parents and that this is missing in everything. And that it is so important to take care of it. And that can be done with, I think, quite simple things.

A phone call or message on special (party) days. Not for lengthy conversations, but just to let people know that those days are difficult. Even after ten years.

On the anniversary of my father’s death, I always put something on my Facebook page and people respond to it. I think if I didn’t post something people wouldn’t know it was his dying day. While it is so nice to know that people want to remember that day for you and let you know to think about you. One time asking about my dad, how things went at our house. Just to reminisce.

Also, for my daughter and for us as a family it would help if there would be a little more involvement. A little more contact. If you don’t speak to each other for 6 weeks, you also miss certain things. And of course, we can contact people ourselves. But also, here it is important that people understand that there is a lack of interest and involvement for us and that this is precisely why regular contact is so important.

Last week my daughter celebrated her birthday at school. Because of the corona crisis, it couldn’t be done sooner. Nobody asked what it had been like. Just because people didn’t know. This is another example I can give, which often causes me to lose connection with the people around me.


After being without parents for ten years, I can say that at 29 you are old enough to take care of yourself, but too young to be without an unconditional network. There are so many things you have to do on your own unlike your peers. What so often is not seen or understood. I have gained a lot of knowledge about handling an inheritance. Something I didn’t know about before.

Unfortunately, I have also often felt alone and lonely. Due to the lack of bonding with people, I have been unemployed for a long time and have had an eating disorder. Probably people have not noticed this, precisely because I am not their daughter or sister. And then the story is over.

The trick is to have people around you who can and want to move around in your situation. And therefore, want to take that extra step for you. If you have none or too few such people around you, it can be difficult to give the lack a place.

How nice it would be if…

It would be nice if in the future there would be a body that focuses on people who at a young age no longer had parents to fall back on. What impact this can have on someone, especially if the environment does not see this. So that they will get the understanding and support that may be so desperately needed.

(100) Moments that determine the course of your life

It might happen to you

Moments that determine the course of your life’s path.

Those moments just after the birth of your child or just during a conversation

Whatever the reason, the paediatrician is of the opinion after collegial consultation that your new-born child does not have long to live and gives advice not to send birth cards to family and friends. How do you cope with this as brand-new parents?

Dad, why do I always have to take those pills and need to check at the hospital every time? How do you explain to your eight-year-old daughter that this is necessary to keep her body in good condition because her life expectancy is so short? How does your daughter deal with the fact that she has not been granted a long life in this world?

Those moments where dying is eminent

We have found bone cancer that is at an advanced stage. We expect you may have another 3 months. What goes through you when you get such a message? How do you deal with this? How do you explain that to your partner and your family? How does your partner cope with such a message… and your family?

Dad, do you want to help me, I’m so tired… no matter how much I want to stay with you, I do not have the energy anymore. How do you answer your daughter’s question of 21 years young who has given everything she possibly could give and has arrived at point on her life’s path where she really can’t go any further? And how do you help her while you yourself… are deeply hurt and grieving because you can feel and see that she is deteriorating fast and will die soon.

Those moments where you get a serious warning

You are dreaming a few times in a row that if you do not go to the doctor you’ll die soon. How do you deal with such dreams? Do you just ignore the dream as pertinent crap… or are you going to see the doctor?

You consult a specialist … and at the end of the consult you are told that it would be a good idea to prepare for the worst. How do you deal with the fact that the risk of unwanted side effects or that you may even die during surgery, are highly probable?

And then the questions keep coming

And then the questions keep arriving… there seems to be no end of these. Questions you don’t know the answers to. Questions where you have no idea how to act upon.

How do you deal with the fact that your life suddenly seems to be so much shorter than you thought it would be? How do you go about the fact that your life suddenly took a very different direction than you expected? You still want to do so much in your life, but your body simply can’t anymore. How does your family cope with this? And your friends, how do they deal with it? How do you support each other? Do you get support? Who supports who?

So, who supports each other? And how?

You just can’t offer support

When I think of my loved ones, I am there for them when they run into emotional issues with which their life suddenly seems so much more complicated? Does that mean I will be there for them spontaneously? On the contrary, they need to ask for support. They should have the need that I’m there for them. It also means that, as a positive answer to their request, I need to take up my commitment to the full 100%. After all, they should’ve the confidence that whatever happens, I’m there… always!

Not everyone understands what it means to offer help

People who offer their help with the best intentions often have no idea what it does mean for them; how they can help and above all continue to give support and what it takes of (emotional) energy to everyone. Energy the other one may have less, and less … and less … and less.

If you’re willing to be there for the other person, you should be able to establish empathy and you should be able to understand what that other person is experiencing, what the other feels. That’s easily said but certainly not easily done when you’ve never experienced what the other is going through now… certainly when you’re each other’s partner. It’s demanding when your partner is dying. Much is asked of you which you should be able to offer… to keep on offering… independent on how hard that may be. You must keep going for the full 100%… with all your heart.

You should be able to discuss tough topics with each other

You should be able to discuss issues about life and death, when the other wants to do so. Issues like is there a god and if so, who is that, is there a heaven and a hell, is there life after death…  issues you can perceive from different points of view depending on your faith and culture. What is important in any case is that you should not reject the other because he or she thinks or feels differently than you do. After all, that’s personal for everyone!

Don’t act inhuman

As an outsider you may not respond lightly to the situation (e.g. that it isn’t too bad, I you know how you are feeling, my aunt had a similar disease… much worse then you though…). Something that is very certain, is that you, as an outsider, have not the slightest idea what the other person is struggling with, what the other person is feeling and how much pain or sadness that can give him or her. In short, when the other person says that he or she is in pain, is afraid, or doesn’t know what to do … then it that’s the case!

Don’t be cruel

Don’t be cruel to the other when you don’t accept, are not willing to accept or even deny that the other is seriously ill when the other says so. It’s not always the case that you can see on the outside that someone is serious ill. When the other indicates that he or she is seriously ill, he or she apparently wants to talk about it with you. That does not always mean that you want to do so too… maybe you do not know how to deal with it… or just because you’re afraid to talk about it. That isn’t necessarily bad, but in order to be honest with the other… and with yourself… tell why you do not discuss this at that moment. In that case you create clarity.

Of course, you can make fun together

Of course, you can laugh, make jokes together, make each other happy so you can create and collect a diamond. A diamond means for me a moment of happiness, of warmth, of joy, of love, of friendship. When I can create or collect a diamond during the day, I consider that day a great day.

Answers are not always available

Not all questions can be answered… so don’t make up answers… be honest to each other. That’s not always easy though, because you may get the feeling that you let the other down… but that’s not the case… your honesty and being there for other sits at a much higher plan than not being able to answer the question.

In matters of life and death, self-interest may look around the corner

The person who is dying may finds it difficult enough for him or herself. His or her opinion or faith that there may be life after death plays a major role in this. Faith and cultural backgrounds are important factors in our daily life and can be even the driving force for wars. But at that moment, the moment you are sitting with the dying person, your faith and your cultural background are not relevant… those of dying one are!

Just like the person who is dying, the loved ones who are remaining have difficult times! It is my opinion that these dear ones, if they don’t do so already, should put aside their own interests about the dying person. Don’t come up with comments like he or she should make all the effort and should try to recover… to be healthy again. Why would you ask such a thing? Because you can’t live without the other? All options were already examined by the dying because he or she knew somehow that he or she was going to die.

Give (eventually) the dying permission to go Home. Personally, I experienced what it means for the dying when you give permission to leave… permission to go Home. I will never forget the moment I saw my daughter with a radiant smile on her face when she died.


I can add many more points to above list, but it’s in my opinion that the following points are the most important ones:

If you’re willing to be there for the other person, you should be able to establish empathy and you should be able to understand what that other person is experiencing, what the other feels. That’s far from simple, in particularly when you’ve never experienced what the other is going through at that moment.

That is even more applicable when you are each other’s partner. Especially when one you are the one that stays. You have not asked for it, but you as a partner are asked to fulfill your vow to the other… “Until death follows.” You must be able to do that… determined… however demanding that is. You must keep going with… with your courage high… for the full 100%. And as a partner you do that anyway… that’s quite ordinary, isn’t it?

Whatever happens in your life, there are always forces that help you further. It may not be the way you want to, but they will help you with whatever puzzles you encounter on your life’s path. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask though!

(98) Letting Go

Letting go. Have confidence in yourself, believe and trust that nothing is for nothing… sometimes the difficult things in our life make the choice to look at ourselves. It’ll be fine.

Ask for help, to restore yourself. Everything is a choice… the choice is what you decide… you, and only you, allow that choice… or not.

Letting go is very hard and challenging… but nobody else can solve that part for you. Hence, it is better to face this as soon as possible… to create new room for new things… positive things.

The old energy… the fear… the care… the must do’s… the criticising … the judging… the imposed feeling of yourself or the other… the emotions… the believes… all that’s now allowed to let go… all, that you can let go.

Be thankful and see this as a blessing… as an enrichment to proceed… to embrace yourself again… to love yourself. That’s the key that opens the new door… but, be watchful.

Be yourself… be happy with yourself… laugh at yourself and with yourself… award yourself that which you grant to another… to really feel the new energy… the new energy, when you do realize: “This is not the way I want to go on!”

However, you must take this step, and only you can do that with all your new energy… with all your passion… all your Being… to really experience it… to really feel it, and permitted to share it.

It’s very simple.

Invite the new energy and say farewell to the old energy… thank the old energy and embrace the new one as if you hug a good friend.

You could do it… and you will feel relieved because you do not hold anymore the fear, the care, and the must do… the new energy that makes you feel again in a way as you are.

Sometimes, it’s not clear why things happen… are noticeably profound… for no reason. But, when we look deep within ourselves… then we see, or feel, that little place where you do not always want to go to… to really feel… because you assume: “Surely that’s no longer possible?”

It’s going well, however, you forgot what you saved in all your cells… in your deepest Being… in your Soul… because you had to go on… no whining, no squealing, just moving on. And just right now when everything goes fine… you don’t feel good… tired… not pleasant.

Letting go the piece that has hurt you so much, has disappointed you so much… is now surfacing… because you have the peace… have the (inner) silence… have the time… to really feel it now.

Feel, undergo and look where it hurts you. Look where it reveals itself when you look honestly through the eyes of your Soul, from the eyes you not always want to see and feel on that spot… that hidden spot… just very briefly, 5 minutes, that’s ok… and then just let it golet it go and see what happens.

It’ll be fine! Have confidence in yourself, believe and trust that nothing is for nothing… sometimes the difficult things in our life make the choice to look at ourselves… a crossroads with a choice… your choice, where do I want to go to.

Go there with your thoughts and live and enjoy this moment in the now. Especially, do not worry about tomorrow… no, there is so much beauty… so much good around you and within you.

Embrace your family, your work, your relatives, your friends, your house, your car … name it … and … beam it, express it!

(97) How Easy Can It Be

Lately it seems like I am meeting more and more Angels on Earth. Angels that show you… how simple it all can be… is granted to be… is. How beautiful the world is… how beautiful you, yourself, are… and… the people around you. How with a few words your world can tip… from rain to sunshine… from gloom to joy… from in and in grief to moments where you can forget that grief. How with simple insights… veils are removed one by one… making everything crystal clear… lighter… serene… happier… and you can in and in enjoy life again.

Those moments I consider the diamonds in my life.

My sincerest thanks to all the Angels around me… I love you!

(95) A Chance Encounter

When you pay close attention to the world around you… you regularly come across special things to enjoy… you meet people with whom you have special conversations. The more you are aware of this… the more beautiful life becomes… the happier you become… despite that great loss, or the dear one(s) you have lost.

We met somewhere by chance at an airport, waiting for the call to board the plane that would take us to our destinations. She went to Italy… a week to a painting course in Florence and then a week to Venice and Rome. I was on my way home.

The encounter had something magical. We both had the feeling that we knew each other for a very long time. But, that just wasn’t possible. She had grown up somewhere in Central America, and I somewhere in North-West Europe. During the conversation we found out that she had lost her husband and her son… and… I had lost my daughter and my wife. She had another daughter and I had another son. It seemed as if we were two halves of a whole. We recognized each other’s grief with which we struggled… we understood each other completely. Perhaps that’s why we felt we had known each other for a very long time.

Our conversation took less than an hour, but it felt so much longer. It seemed like we had to meet each other… we had to meet each other to make us aware that although you have a lot of grief because of your loss… that you’re not the only one.

When she walked to the plane that would bring her to Italy it seemed… as if she was dancing… as if she was relieved… as if she had become aware that she was not the only one who had lost precious mates. In my case it seemed a veil was being pulled away… making everything a bit brighter… happier… lighter.

(c) Stichting Jouw Rouwverwerking
Beauty is in the unexpected

It was just a short encounter, by happenstance. But still… by the peace and the joy it gave… afterwards… both to her and to me… you would (almost) think that this encounter was set up by a higher power. And just those little moments… those little moments that can stand in stark contrast to the life of all day… those little moments are for me the moments that make it worthwhile to take everything out of life what’s in for me.

When you pay close attention to the world around you… then you regularly come across special things to enjoy… then you meet people with whom you have special conversations. The more you are aware of this… the more beautiful life becomes… the happier you become… despite that great loss, or the dear one(s) you have lost.