In one year, Eva Peters (35) lost both her parents to cancer; her mother in 2016, her father in 2017. After the diagnosis, an intensive time of insecurity, fear and constant tension followed, but also of beautiful moments with a lot of love for each other. A time when two funerals were discussed, wishes were made known and memories were made, as long as possible.
“When my parents died, my world collapsed,” said Eva Peters. “I had a whole life with my parents and have now started my second life. As an orphan, without a grip. ”
The mourning period actually started with the diagnosis, she says. “Also called anticipatory grief, the grief even before the loss has occurred.” Three years later, she is setting up online platform Modern Mourning, which should become a reality with crowdfunding that ends this month.
“When my parents passed away, I looked for stories of people who have experienced something similar or how you can make a funeral more personal. The books, magazines, and websites I found didn’t offer that. I looked for handles, but found nothing that suited my life. ”
There do seem to be more and more podcasts and books about mourning, perhaps also due to the high number of corona deaths. The more initiatives, the better, says Peters, who opted for an online platform precisely because there are hardly any. “There is now a whole generation that will soon lose his or her parents and / or grandparents. The generation before us didn’t talk about grief. Forgetting, especially continuing and looking ahead was the motto. But sooner or later everyone will face a loss. It is important to talk openly and honestly with each other about the deep lows. ”
Looking back on that difficult period, Eva Peters concludes: “After my parents died, the world went on, but my life stood still. There is no end to grief. I cannot ‘handle’ it, as it is said clichéd. My parents may no longer be there physically, but my love for them still is. When new people come into my life, the realization that they will never get to know them still hurts. My parents were never able to see my daughter like this. I was four months pregnant when my father passed away. My mother had just died for it. ”
She doesn’t believe in that other cliché – time heals all wounds – either. “I do hope that over the years I will find more comfort in it. I think clichés are used because often people don’t know what to say to you, precisely because it isn’t talked about much. All intentions and intentions are good, but some of the comments made me feel extra sad or lonely. The clichés and advice sometimes felt like my grief was being played down. ”
“Every person is unique, all sorrow is unique”
There is no manual on how to deal with grief. “Every person is unique, all sorrow is unique. I try to face the reality that they really won’t come back, that is getting better now that the years pass by. I try to experience the pain of loss, no matter how difficult. I have to learn to enjoy again and fortunately that is getting better and better. “
What are you doing, what not?
Rob Bruntink, co-owner of bureau Morbidee whose mission is to make death a subject for discussion, wrote the book I don’t know what to say together with Mariska Overman … How do you talk about death, loss and mourning, which will be released on December 8th.
His advice on how to deal with mourners:
– Be sweet: listen to someone’s story. Also for the tenth time, also months or years later.
– Interested in the other. Even after a longer period of time, ask how things are going and talk about the deceased.
– Acknowledge emotions, give room for them, judge and don’t trivialize.
– Facilitate in a concrete sense: help cooking, watch out for the children, make things easier for others, especially in the first period.
Advice for mourners from Peters:
“Rituals to remember my parents help me. That’s why I keep holding them close to me. Listening to music they liked, making a photo book, talking to people my parents knew. ”
“Dare to ask for help, both from friends and professionally. It was tough dragging myself to a psychologist every week, but in the end it helped me a lot. ”
“Talk to parents and loved ones about death, grief, their wishes for a funeral. You can do that even if they are not sick. Don’t delay, don’t shy away from it. How difficult it is, because you don’t want to think about losing your loved one at all. ”