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July 13, 2021 at 7:47 pm | Posted in communication | Leave a comment

Mother’s Legacy

November 26, 2012 at 12:56 am | Posted in family of origin, grief/loss | 3 Comments

~ Retracing footsteps ~

“You will in time understand the complexity of my time here on earth…” were my mother’s words.

Just this morning I had an epiphany in regards to my mother’s choices in life. I was contemplating her ways in which she said things that she wanted us to do differently, her stoic responses and her sometimes very stubborn decisions and opinions. We as a family struggled many times with this situation.

Now I see it all with a bit more perspective. My mother was probably brought up with little room to have her own wishes and desires fully met. She must have learnt that having her own and sometimes out-of-the-box ideas was termed as ‘being difficult’ and so swallowed them for a long time. I guess that in relationship with my father she was putting her own needs behind every thing else that the family needed. For a long time… until the phoenix rose out of the ashes.

I sometimes couldn’t understand why she would do things in a complicated way and didn’t want to change, when it all seemed to make so much more sense another way. She was artistic and different in every way, even when it comes to the way she had her kitchen organized.

In her later life I have experienced my mother’s resentment from all the years where she stood back, allowed others to come first, had her own needs met last.

Now I see what damage her soul took from conforming to society but not following her own path.

Today I choose that from what I see, everyone has the right to have their own wild ideas, needs, wants, dreams… which don’t need to be justified or explained. As I now live among the same walls my mother did, sleep in the very room my mother slept, eat on the table she dined, and am surrounded by the plants she chose to have in her garden, I am here to discover the complexity of her time on earth. Step by step.

November 19, 2012 at 12:08 am | Posted in communication | Leave a comment

Have you ever thought about NOT having to be strong?

Living Without My Twin Sister

“We tell people they are “strong” when we are uncomfortable with their pain and would prefer that they shut up and not bother us with it. To say “but you are strong” is telling someone “I don’t think you should feel that way,” and it’s not a compliment. I don’t think that strength means being invulnerable, or pretending that you are. The belief that silence and stoicism are inherently good qualities is how you end up dressed up like a bat punching criminals in an alley – it’s not a good road to emotional health.
Be sad. Be angry. Let your heart break – in the diner, on someone’s futon, in the park, on the way to the zoo, at brunch, over drinks, in the therapist’s office, on the bus – Wherever it breaks, let it break all the way open, let it run out and down and spread out…

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Avoiding the Present Experience

November 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Posted in grief/loss | 2 Comments
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Missing Mimi

It is fairly common to avoid that we experience, specifically if we don’t like what the experience brings with it. Often, dare I say ever, it is the emotional component that is disliked, unaccepted or denied.

I don’t like anger

I am aware of this right now. Today marks what would have been my mother’s 70 birthday, if not she chose to end her life prematurely in January this year. Today is a heavy day for me and I struggle with the mixture of anger at her decision to leave, her not being physically present and celebrating with her and her one year old grandchild, the feeling of missing her and on the other side the desire for me to be compassionate, accepting and seeing the positive in everything. Right now, the anger is much more prevalent and in my head I hear the screaming voice saying: ‘What the hell is there positive in this???’

I just want to feel better

I’m reminded of one of my client’s session this week where my clients said: ‘I want to feel better, I don’t like feeling the way I’m feeling and it doesn’t make sense anyway.’

As a starting point, the desire to change isn’t wrong. It might just be premature to want to change from anger to joy in one step. There is a good reason for the emotion in the moment, whether we like it or not. There must be, otherwise we were we as human emotional being constructed this way? Beside the obvious, the release of the various emotional responses help us deal with what is and release tension. Tears help you heal. So do the emotion that are present, with or without tears.

Charge versus memory Continue Reading Avoiding the Present Experience…

Death – Meeting Society’s Taboo

October 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Posted in grief/loss | 4 Comments

♥ ♥ ♥

I’m the mother of a dead child. I’m the daughter of a dead mother. All of which happened within the space of less than 5 months.

I shock people when I tell them what occurred in the last year. Some literally sit there, eyes and mouth wide open but no sound. Even some good friends have not contacted me since my child died.

Talking to a friend who experienced stillbirth recently she mentioned that her friends wanted to give her space. Really, we don’t need that much space. One of my friends expressed feeling conscious of not wanting to bore me with her daily life because it all seemed so trivial and non-important.

It is true: experiencing death has changed me as a person and my perspective. It has put problems into perspective, taken the seriousness out of seemingly important matters and given my life a whole different meaning. It has thought me appreciation where in the past was a sense of expectation. It has requested I look deeper into myself, open more of those hidden cupboards of my psyche and questioned the notion of taking things for granted.

I’m open to talk about death. I’m not hiding, nor trying to fix or mend the truth. Still, I find myself saying: ‘I’m sorry if I shocked you’ or ‘it might sound worse than it is’.

The truth is I have been processing this for days on end. It’s there every waking and sleeping hour. I cannot escape looking at it and into it. I have no choice but to deal with it.

Maybe I’m considered a weirdo because I’m not accepting or honoring society’s taboo. As a society we are not used to openly meeting, talking or sharing stories around death and we don’t know how to handle our own feelings in regards to other people’s trauma. I can remember just a few years ago when a distant friend of mine had a stillbirth I didn’t know what to say. I can relate.

Another truth is that each and everyone’s experience of meeting death is somewhat different. What I can tell you is only my experience. Given the feedback I have received I have to assume that those who speak are actually relieved that there is finally someone who doesn’t shy away and openly shares.

September 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Posted in communication | Leave a comment

Living Without My Twin Sister

Given that, according to studies, 1 in 4 have experienced losing a baby or child it is very likely you are going to encounter the situation of being with a friend who has lost theirs.

In my personal experience I noticed that many of the people who met me and my story had no idea how to handle it, either they avoided the topic or were speechless. Some of my friends are still speechless after more than a year. I do understand this. After my training in grief and loss and with years of working with clients with experiences that included the loss of a child I didn’t really know how to appropriately react even though I apparently did help those clients. Nothing prepared me fully for my personal experience.

Untimely or sudden death, as that of a child, an accident or suicide, leaves people speechless because ‘it shouldn’t happen’…

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Clearing Things

September 19, 2012 at 3:34 am | Posted in grief/loss | 2 Comments
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Timetable of Grief

Today I stood in the garage with my Dad going through the remnants of my parents life. They have been married and together for 54 years from when they were 17 years old. My Dad tears up as he watches my Mum’s picture in what we call ‘Mum’s room’. In every little thing stored in their garage there is history, stories about all those moments they shared.

I’m dealing with clearing the things he no longer needs or wants. He says: ‘It might be easier for you to throw these things away than for me. Or maybe not?’ He is relieved that he doesn’t have to deal with all the details.

He tells me some of the anectodes that I might have heard before but I let him tell me again. It’s his processing time. Today on the phone he mentioned that he is good at avoiding, so I figure that I give him as much of this way of processing that he choses to take on his own choice.

I recall another instant… 6 weeks ago we came to Switzerland and he was with us the last 3,5 weeks at our old home. On one of the last days we went to visit Hope’s place, the beach where we scattered our little girl’s ashes. I was surprised at the emotional reaction he had as we stood there quietly at the ocean, after our ritual rose petal scattering. Again, processing time.

I’m aware again and again that grief has its own timetable as I’m standing here in ‘Mum’s room’ with my Dad. For him, the most manageable way to deal with my Mum’s suicide was and still is avoiding it. He’s been in a state of shock for the first few months, fully functioning on the outside, seemingly looking and feeling ‘well’ but inside he was probably not fully connected with what had happened. It might have been the best this way. He’s not in denial, just doing what he can.

Being Mum – Being Child

May 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Posted in parenting | 4 Comments
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. * .

For every mum there is a child and for every child there is a mum. This is one thing we all have in common: we all have a mother. There is this one person in your life you call ‘mum’. What happens to you when you think of your mum?

8 months ago I became a mother and my daughter is just starting to say mum-um-um… to my delight, of course. 4 months ago however I’ve also lost the person I called mum.

My mum’s death was sudden and as such unexpected. It left me wondering how orphans feel growing up without this one person to rely on, to talk to, to get support, love, encouragement and guidance from? Am I now an orphan?

It also made me contemplate the relationship I had with my mum over the years. I always felt close to her, even though we had our moments of disagreement and relationship challenges. I spent intensive times with her, especially in the last 15 years as I lived overseas and only saw her once a year but then for a few weeks or on holiday trips together. Growing up I always felt supported and never doubted her love for me. Still, like every mother – daughter relationship, we had our ups and downs, differentiating myself and my life from hers and practicing allowing her to be different to what I expected her to be.

Mothers, like sons or daughters, change. For me it wasn’t very easy to see her change, becoming older and partly more stubborn in her own ways. Even though I believed she had every right to make her own choices, I was annoyed at certain ones and downright angry at others. I had however learnt to keep my frustration and anger to myself, probably as I had learnt it from my parents. So outwardly I might have seemed accepting but naturally inwardly I had my human thoughts, emotions and reactions.

Having a child of my own opened my eyes to motherhood in a whole new way. I’m amazed at the intensity of what it takes to mother a child and it’s only been 8 months. In comparison to my mum, I have a very actively supportive husband who is taking his role as a father seriously, where my father, representing his time, was far less involved.

Mother’s Day has been created to remember those amazing things mothers do and show them our gratitude. (No, I haven’t forgotten Father’s Day but that’s another time of the year.)

The role of a mother (or a father) never stops, not even with death. As mentioned above, it is 4 months ago that I’ve lost my mum, but 8 months ago I also had the younger of my twin girls die. So not only do I have a child, I also have lost one and so have experienced the whole spectrum of having a child, losing a child and losing a mum in a short timeframe. I still very much feel this child of mine with me, as well as my mum. I will always remain mother to two girls, if people ask or not. I am a mother by honouring her soul who has passed on.

My mum and my younger daughter are still with me, even though not on a physical level. Neither mothering nor being a child never stops. Now I might not have ‘real’ conversations with them, but I still have them inside of me. I think of them, am angry and sad for their leaving me and my other child and I miss them.

If your mother is still alive, what are you waiting for?

If your mother has passed, what are you waiting for?

Have you found peace in the relationship with her?

Relationship Wisdom – Skillfully Disagreeing With Your Partner

March 27, 2012 at 2:36 am | Posted in communication, love/relationship/marriage | Leave a comment
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Let’s face it: disagreements are a natural component of every relationship. If you are one of those people saying: ‘I just don’t want to argue’ you have to get real. You can work on your style of how you handle disagreement or arguments but rarely (never) will you live in an intimate relationship without any of it.

How well are you at disagreeing with your partner?

Differences are the norm

You might have entered into your relationship looking for someone who is similar to you. Even though you might have a lot of overlap of values, beliefs and life views there are also the differences, which, if you were able to filter them out in the beginning they will become more obvious once the relationship has progressed past it’s initial honeymoon stage. Don’t fool yourself – they have been there all along, you just skillfully, with the help of your hormones, managed to avoid them.

How to deal with them?

There are naturally people who are more easy-going and accepting of differences. Some because they want to do everything possible to please their partner, others because they are not so tightly attached to their own opinions and find it easier to accept another point of view.

The closer however a value is to your core, the more you will be willing to defend it. Think about what is most important to you in life and now imagine someone close to you asking you to change this or saying that this is not right. This will stir up some kind of self-defense in most people.

So wherever you are on the scale, there will come a point where you might want to or have to disagree with your partner. Here are a couple of important points to remember:

1. It is ok to disagree.

Disagreement does not mean that you don’t love the other person, it simply means that you have a different point of view.

2. Acceptance is required.

If you are truly dedicated to your partner, you will need to practice accepting their differences, no matter how big or small they are. Depending on the topic, this might be most challenging and in some cases it might not be possible if the situation at hand is below your bottom line. That’s when you have to seriously rethink your relationship.

3. Communicate acceptance.

One of the most skillful and helpful components of disagreeing with your partner is if you communicate what you understand and accept. This will make your partner feel heard and most probably less defensive.

4. Continue discussion.

Disagreement, when not too heated with emotions, needs to be discussed. If you notice that you get too agitated, ask for a time out and discuss it at a later point in time. Masters of relationship show that they are able to continue talking about points of differences without needing to agree.

5. Find compromises.

For some disagreements you can simply allow them to be, others might need compromises. Remember that a compromise is not always in the middle. For example if one partner wants a child and the other doesn’t you cannot find a middle path.

6. Better to be right or happy?

In some cases you need to think hard about the importance of your position. Is it worth defending yourself?

In the end ask yourself whether the issue is worth more than your relationship harmony or whether you are able to let the problem go. Sometimes arguments do not have the origin in the relationship but in our history, our childhood or our own state of mind.

Video Call

March 12, 2012 at 10:39 am | Posted in communication | Leave a comment
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Nowadays with the technology available it is possible to have your counsellor come to your home – via Video Call. There are multiple ways to do this but I found, for the time being, Skype and Face Time two very useful ways to do this.

Skype: Image
Skype has been around for some time and the teething problems hopefully have been solved. Skype offers the ability to talk face-to-face for free using video calls. All you need is a computer with camera, microphone and speakers – most computers come with these features. Then you have to download the skype program onto your computer and know the person’s Skype user name to connect with them.

You can use Skype on your computer, mobile or even on your TV. Read more here.


Face Time:Image
In comparison to Skype, Face Time is a Mac only program or application. It offers video calling from your iPhone 4, iPad 2, new iPod touch and any other Mac computer. This allows you to make that call from anywhere where you have access to a wireless network.

Face Time uses mobile phone numbers or email addresses and it can, on the computer, access your address book.

Face Time from phone to phone works only if both parties are on a wireless and it’s free of charge! Read more here.


So what are you waiting for?

If you’re wondering whether this is really working, here is a testimonial of a client who tried both face-to-face and video sessions:

Having had counselling with Nathalie now for nearly four years, the last 18 months we have used Skype rather than in her home. For me, Skype has actually unlocked more growth and openness in our sessions. I feel comfortable, safe and relaxed in my own home environment, which in my experience allows me to sink into how I’m feeling far more easily. There is also an intimacy that I can’t quite explain, when someone is watching and holding a space for you from a distance. It allows the room and freedom to really explore, knowing that you don’t have to ‘pull it all together’ before you leave. Julie


If you have any question please feel free to ask by leaving a comment.

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