These Holidays are different

These Holidays are different

On Sunday evening I was dancing at home and Aquarius from the musical ‘Hair ‘was playing.

These lyrics really spoke to me:
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions –
Mystic crystal revelation –
And the mind’s true liberation

The Age of Aquarius or ‘the Fish’ represents the transformation of the world towards more human values. The lyrics described this perfectly. This past year was clearly a year for me to come closer to myself and find meaning.
A year where we needed to listen to and respect each others’ opinion, and that can be difficult. A year where we had less air pollution and became more ‘one’ with nature.
Unfortunately a year where there was more isolation and loneliness and where sometimes people couldn’t say goodbye to loved ones in the way they would have liked to.

Christmas is a time to spend with family and now we must spend it without them. In this situation the loss feels so apparent, you really wanted them here. Christmas and New Year will be different for a lot of people this year. Will you be able to still make it something special?
Whatever situation you find yourself in, whatever your belief, I wish you days of light, self love and unity in the New Age of Aquarius

The function of crying after loss

The function of crying after loss

Recently two women in my bereavement group shared; that since their husband died, there were many moments during the day where they felt a need to cry. This reminded me of my own tears during my grieving process. In this blog I’ll take a look at the cultural aspects and the scientific and psychological insights about the function of crying after loss.

Crying brings calm and relief
The psychologist Alex Goetz carried out research on the effect of tears on the body and mind. Sadness causes stress in the body and therefore crying can relieve this stress. The majority of people – me included, feel better after a good cry, I wonder if this is also your experience?

Are we allowed to cry?
This depends on the culture and the family in which we are raised and also how your parents dealt with emotions and crying. In your family or school was crying tolerated or not? Men and women have been brought up differently with regards to showing emotions too. Are we still saying “Boys don’t cry”? I think people are more aware of that label nowadays. In general I think to show your emotions these days is more acceptable and I think that this is a positive development.

Not able to cry
With loss there is a whole range of varying emotions; sadness, anger, fear. If we’ve learnt that we must keep our emotions under control there is a danger of repressing all these too.
My experience and that of other Psychologists know that a healthier approach is to acknowledge pain and emotions rather than to repress it, though this can be difficult. I support people with this in my practice. If you ignore emotional pain, it can disrupt your life by manifesting in other ways, such as physical pain, illness, stress and burnout.

Finding Balance
Sometimes it’s normal just to want to forget our grief for a while, so that we can put our tears to one side. To find a distraction like shopping or doing sport is a normal way of coping during grieving. Stroebe en Schut talk about a Dual Process Model where there is a seesaw effect between grieving and getting on with life. I wonder if you recognise that?

Communication and connection
What is often not talked about is that if you are sad and cry in front of someone , it reveals your vulnerability. It tells them how you are feeling, what you are going through and then they can give you the support that you might need. After all until you tell them, they don’t know the depth of your feelings. It can bring a deeper connection with those around you.

If anything in my blog struck a chord with you, and it would feel good to share this with a professional who can offer you a safe and confidential space to share . Please feel free to contact me on 0610144644 or drop me a line on for a free initial conversation.

Being real, what does it mean?

Being real, what does it mean?

For me being real means, making authentic contact and being able to show your feelings. That means contact with yourself and with others, when it feels right being able to expose your vulnerabilities. I think this is essential for a good quality of life. Are you able to show your feelings when you have lost a loved one, that meant so much to you?

Sometimes you can’t help showing your emotions and this might be easier with family and friends. At other times we feel like we need to ‘be big’ about it. Do you find it’s really exhausting to keep pretending that everything is OK? Those times that you absolutely dread that someones might ask THAT question and you know you’re in danger of breaking down in tears and not wanting them to think you’re pathetic. This can leave us feeling alone with our grief if we’re not used to asking for help.

Emotions have an important function; fear protects us and keeps us alert to danger, rage is a defense and can be a source of strength, sadness allows a release, it purifies and creates space. An emotion is an inner experience or feeling, linked to a physical reaction, a facial expression and a behavior. If we can’t give ourself permission to express our emotions, it can impact our health and manifest in physical or mental symptoms.

Most people learned early on to suppress their emotions. This can make it more difficult when it comes to mourning.
Have you been able to express your grief in loss?
If you feel like you could use some support with this then please contact me for a short consultation or drop me a line to make an appointment on

The Anniversary

The Anniversary

Emotions around the anniversary of the death of my partner
Every year as the anniversary of the death of my partner Paul approaches, my emotions are noticeably very present. In the weeks leading up to it I’m more sensitive and more emotional and tears flow easily. It just happened when a friend invited me to meditate together on that day. I’m so thankful for my empathic friends. It touches me too that my brothers and sister make a point of calling me on the 26th of May to see how I am.

This year it’s eleven years ago! And some memories come up that make it feel like yesterday. The actual chain of events on that day is always very clear. What happened after that has faded more into the background. I know that I have integrated the loss into my life and I have found happiness in life again.

Waves of sadness
I experience sadness like waves, in the beginning constant waves that overtake and overwhelmed me. Literally I hadn’t had any control over my emotions and the sadness was intense. As time passed the waves become less intense and I found myself in calmer water. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays brings up a wave of sadness again. At these times the memories come back and the sadness is somehow present again.

Healing process
Recently during a five day therapeutic process, something inside me was touched and I cried for two hours solid about Paul. I noticed then, how angry I was that he had left me, I had buried the anger, even though I know he couldn’t help it. Nowadays I feel lighter and more free. I’ve let go of a heavy load and a change has happened.

My meaning
The way I have made sense of my loss was to follow a professional training on grief and loss, so that I could help others to make meaning of their loss.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.” says Søren Kierkegaard
Life is far too precious not to be lived fully and I can help to guide you back to finding your lust for life.
I welcome your thoughts on how you’ve dealt with such a loss? Have you been able to make your own sense of it?

If you’ve been touched by my experience, you can contact me for a consultation.

Thanks to Hush Naidoo for the beautiful photo.

Saying goodbye during a pandemic

Saying goodbye during a pandemic

This week it’s 3 years since my mother died. I look back with gratitude at our goodbye with all 5 children at her bedside. We had taken turns to watch over her for 8 days. Everyone was at her funeral; including nieces and nephews, friends and acquaintances. What a contrast to what is imposed on us now, standing at the side of the road or just paying our respects together on Facebook or zoom.

Current Situation
It is heartbreaking that we can’t visit our loved ones in a hospice or care home. Keeping a distance whilst we really want to be close. Due to government guidelines, saying goodbye has become very complicated. You can’t put an arm around your loved one, it feels difficult and painful and can leave us feeling powerless, bringing up emotions such as sadness and anger.

Saying Goodbye
In just a few weeks time our world has changed drastically. If someone in your close family is dying you can visit but you need to wear a Hasmat suit. It is unthinkable that you need to hold the hand of your father mother, brother, sister or grandparent wearing gloves.
In the Netherlands, burials and cremations went from max 100 to 30 mourners and some decide just close blood relatives as they find it difficult to decide, also you’d get a fine if you don’t obey the rules.

However due to the smaller gatherings those left behind are experiencing a lot of warmth from friends who can’t be there, letters, flowers and stories. This kind of sharing offers a different kind of comfort and they look forward to the time where they can really come together to remember their loved one.

I wish everyone strength in this situation.
If you feel the need to talk about your experience of losing a loved one, feel free to call me without obligation.