Kind en Rouw
Bijzondere ervaringen rond sterven
Kind und Trauer
In Memory of
I live in the Netherlands.
My free lance job: I preside at funeral services in which almost always
children are involved.
to deal with children?
grandson came very close to her: ‘Are you sad, grandma? Do you miss
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘How about you? Do you miss him?’ ‘Yes, I do,’ he answered,
‘we can’t play football anymore, or riding bikes, or go to the swimming pool. And
he doesn’t tell stories anymore.’ ‘What about ús telling grandpa-stories? Who is
first, you or me?’
And they had a wonderful time together, they laughed and tears came as well.
But that was
If children just
can be as they are in this very moment we help not only them but ourselves
as well. And they help us without knowing. Children immediately feel our
fear, our anxiety, our sadness.
Sometimes parents decide not to take the children to the
funeral service. ‘They don’t understand,’ parents say. No, they don’t,
rationally. But how about us? Do we understand what happens when someone
dies? We don’t as well. We might know something about a funeral or
cremation, but what really happens? We don’t know as well. But children feel
deep down in their hearts what is going on, they feel how we feel, deep down
in their soul. They might not have the words to tell, that’s all.
I am always moved when I see a parent holding the child
when they look at the person who died. Sometimes the child draws a picture
for the deceased an carefully lays it into the coffin.
Another time the parent just tells a little story. Or he
or she told the child about death – the body can’t breath anymore, the eyes
never ever will be open again, the body is cold.
Of course the child is there during the funeral ceremony.
It can light a candle, or sing a song, or tell a little story. If a parent
is afraid for the child to ran around or make a lot of noise, just ask a
friend to take care of it for some time. Nothing wrong with that.
Children's book: In Memory of.................
many experiences with children I wrote a booklet just
to invite children to tell
about the person who
died, how they feel, if they did something during the funeral ceremony,
etc. They are also invited to paste a photo, to colour a picture and to
draw pictures themselves. We only have to give them a chance to express
Children can do it by themselves, but they also might like to get some help
from a parent, a friend, a teacher, or someone else they trust.
I also tell something about dying, about being buried and cremated as well.
I always have it
with me when I am visiting people to prepare the funeral ceremony. Children
really like it. Preparations to publish it in America have been made,
but the financial crisis did the editor decide not to finish it.
Anyway - I have copies in English, so if you want some, just let
or stories to share?
Please contact me:
Stories about life after death
The funeral services at which I preside are
mostly for unchurched people, who, although they are not
involved in any institutional church, very often are deeply
religious and spiritual. When I see them some time after the
funeral or cremation they tell how they feel, how they are,
how they cope with what happened. And very often they tell
about some kind of a contact with the person that passed
What about life after
is very interesting to a lot of people. Maybe I have to say:
it is very interesting again – because studying this
subject shows a lot of information, stories and teachings
throughout the centuries. So finally there is nothing new
about it. We just have, more than ever, the opportunity to
think about it, to read stories, etc. But telling about
one’s own experiences is still very vulnerable,
because they can’t be proved like we prove the way our
computer works etc. But to the person they really are true,
because they are his or her very own experience.
Besides: a lot of books have been written during the last
said: ‘The continuity between life and death is greater
than the split,’ which means that life goes on, in what
way we don’t know – but dead is not just dead. We
can’t prove it rationally, and at the same time it is not a
matter of ‘being right or wrong.’ It is the personal
experience that counts, that changes the way people think
and feel, and that goes beyond rationality.
Till now I
have been told stories about a life beyond death a lot. The
situation might be different – sometimes someone being
terminal ill tells what he or she experienced, another time
it is a relative who got impressed by something that
convinced him or her about an existence after death.
The people I meet are not or no longer connected with any
church. The reasons might be different, but the conformity
is the non-believe in church teachings which they think are
too concrete, too literally, too much like a system. They
miss the spiritual dimension of these teachings.
I tried to contact church leaders about these stories, but
did not succeed. May be it isn’t important; the stories are
that tell about eternity are.
An old man lost his wife
old man lost his wife. ‘She’s gone through the gate,’ he
said. ‘It won’t be too long for me to go the same way.’ He
was convinced about life after death. But he did not like
any questions about God. ‘Who is God? Or what is God? Or
what is s/he like? God is the Great Unknown, and that’s it.’
It is the very same as an old lady – she was about a hundred
years old, said: ‘God is God – not just like a man or a
woman, not even like a superman or superwoman, so be very
careful in talking about him/her.’
At the same time it is beyond any institutional religion.
A man whose wife died
know it was my wife
wife did not really go, well, she is gone, but not really.
I’d like to tell about it, but not to everyone. It happened
a couple of times, early in the morning when I woke up, but
still stayed in bed for some minutes, when I saw the
blankets move – exactly the way they move when somebody is
lying there and wants to get up. I was surprised, because I
did not move even my toe. How can the bed move at the side
where I am not? Even when I would turn around the part of
the bed where I was not could move this way. That should be
stayed as calm as I could, without moving one muscle, and
But the blankets did something funny again – again like
someone was getting up. I was absolutely sure about that.
And then someone called my name softly: ‘Bert, Bert.’
I already had the feeling that she walked behind me. Of
course no one was there. So that must have been my
imagination. But it was so real.
One night I was watching tv, just sitting in my own chair,
exactly where I am now. And my wife always sat there, right
where you are now. So I was watching tv and I heard from the
chair she always sat her calling – and I exactly remember
the sound of her voice: ‘Bert, Bert,’ I looked, but of
course I didn’t see anything. An hour later the same voice –
her voice calling me: ‘Bert, Bert,’ I felt good about it, I
was not frightened or something like that. After a couple of
days the same happened: ‘Bert, Bert.’ It was absolutely real
– I did not imagine that – I am absolutely sure. She has
gone, but at the same time she is still here. She might be
waiting for me. I am not afraid to die, but yet I can’t say
I am in a hurry.’
The next story is very
special, very moving. It is one of my favourites.
Someone held my hand
about the first fifteen years of her life she considered
Simon to be her father. But then he told her she actually
was his grand daughter. She got very angry. ‘That’s not true!
You are my dad!’
He told her the whole sad story. Slowly she started to call
him ‘grandpa’, but she loved him the way she always did.
Grandpa still was the very same as he always was – he
brought her up, he took care of her.
Simon was raised in a Jewish German family that came to the
Netherlands during the thirties of the 20th century. The
family always was on the move in a small mobile home. He did
not go to school, never learned to read and write.
During WW II he was kept imprisoned in three concentration
camps, and three times he succeeded in escaping on foot.
He married a Roman Catholic woman, but since he turned out
to be gay they divorced.
Despite all these problems he learned to enjoy life – his
yellow Jew star was a sign of honour.
died at the age of 80. His grand daughter was devastated.
She asked me to say the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the
deceased, and just one sentence of it in Hebrew would be
wonderful – finally there would me German members of the
family that still would know Hebrew. Of course I did. And
she herself during the ceremony would light a white candle
which she afterwards would take home.
At that very day she was not well – and I wondered if her
legs would be able to carry her. In her eyes one could see a
To my great surprise her hand was very steady when she lit
When I saw her after the ceremony I asked her: ‘How come?’
‘I’d to do it for my dearest grandpa,’ she said. That was
the only phrase she spoke clearly.
She had not heard or seen nobody. She didn’t hear nothing of
my speech, not even the words in Hebrew. She did not know
who was there, or how many people were there. She just
looked like a very old, sad and vulnerable woman.
A couple of weeks
later I visited her. The expression on her face was very
peacefully. Her voice was clear and her back straight.
About the lighting of the candle she told that someone hold
her hand. There was in fact nobody to see, but yet – someone
hold her hand.
And that she didn’t know anything at all was because grandpa
was there, just behind his coffin, and he waved at her. And
now he visited her now and then, it always was at night, and
he touched her cheek.
Her grandchild, so Simon was a grand grandpa, saw him as
well. The child, two years old, told that grandpa was
looking very friendly and he wore a ring at his right ring
finger. The child described the ring – which had never seen
it before, because grandpa did not ware it for years.
Except for this child there were others who saw grandpa. She
told me that grandpa was in contact with grandma, of whom he
divorced so many years ago. Both of them understood why it
was better to live apart from each other. And now it was no
problem anymore – nobody gets married to nobody – it is all
She misses him – she will definitely miss him for a long
time to come. But grandpa is fine and that counts.
And he absolutely will take care of her, that’s for sure.