Corona makes death seem more present this year than ever, even though it was always there. Yet people talk little about it, which is essential in the run-up and in the processing process.
In one year, Eva Peters (35) lost both her parents to cancer; her mother in 2016, her father in 2017. After the diagnosis followed an intensive time of uncertainty, fear and constant tension, but also of beautiful moments with great love for each other. A time when two departures were discussed, wishes were made known and memories were made as long as possible.
“ When my parents died, my world collapsed,” says Eva Peters. “I have had a whole life with my parents and I have now started my second life. As an orphan, without a hold.”
The mourning period actually started with the diagnosis, she says. “Also known as anticipatory mourning, the mourning even before the loss has occurred.” Three years later, she is working on the creation of online platform Modern Mourning, which has to become a reality with crowdfunding that ends this month.
“When my parents died, I searched for stories of people who have experienced something similar or how to make a funeral more personal. The books, magazines and websites I found didnt offer that. I looked for handles, but found nothing that was connected to my life.”
However, there seem to be more and more podcasts and books about mourning, perhaps also due to the high number of coronadodes. The more initiatives, the better, says Peters, who opted for an online platform because there are hardly any. “There is now a whole generation that is about to lose his or her parents and/or grandparents in the foreseeable future. The generation before us did not speak of grief. Forgot, especially continuing and looking forward was the motto. But sooner or later everyone will face a loss. It is important to talk openly and honestly about the deep valleys.”
Looking back at that difficult period, Eva Peters concludes: “After my parents died, the world went on, but my life stood still. There is no end to mourning. I cannot process it, as it is said clichély. My parents may not be there physically anymore, but my love for them will still be. When new people come into my life, the realization that they will never get to know them still hurts. My parents never saw my daughter like that. I was pregnant for four months when my father died. My mother had just died before.”
In that other cliché — time heals all wounds — she doesnt believe for herself either. “I hope I will find some more resignation in it over the years. I think clichés are used because people often dont know what to say to you, precisely because they dont talk much about it. All intentions and intentions are good, but some comments made me extra sad or lonely. The clichés and advice sometimes felt as if my grief was being trivialized.”
There is no manual on how to deal with mourning. “Every person is unique, all grief is unique. Im trying to face the reality that they really dont come back again, thats going to be a little better now. Im trying to experience the pain of loss, no matter how difficult. I have to learn to enjoy again and fortunately that keeps getting a little better.”
What are you doing, whats not?
Rob Bruntink, co-owner of Morbidee agency whose mission is to make death negotiable, wrote together with Mariska Overman the book I dont know what to say… How do you talk about death, loss and mourning, coming out December 8th?
His advice how to deal with grieving:
– Be sweet: listen to someones story. Also for the tenth time, also months or years later.
– Interested in the other. Ask, even after a long time, how it goes, and talk about the deceased.
– Recognize emotions, give room for it, judge and do not trivialize.
– Facilitate in concrete sense: help cook, watch the children, make it easier for the other, especially in the first period.
Advices for mourners of Peters:
“Rituals to commemorate my parents help me. It keeps me keeping them close to me. Listening to music they liked, making a photo book, talking to people who knew my parents.”
“ Dare to ask for help, both from friends and professional. It was hard to drag myself to a psychologist every week, but in the end it did a lot to me.”
“ Talk to parents and relatives about death, sorrow, their wishes for a funeral. You can do that even if theyre not sick. Dont put it off, dont get out of the way. How difficult it is, because you dont want to think about losing your loved one at all.”