Grief’s Vibration

Today I found out I knew someone personally on MH17.

My heart goes out to all the family, friends and people affected.


Shock again.

Nathalie Himmelrich Q15I know the people who are in shock, reeling with the unbelievable reality of never being able to see her again.

I know the people affected by her death.

I know their journey will be through grief’s barren land.

I feel for them. I feel with them.

Grief vibrates through time and space.

Just yesterday we spoke about the world wide impact of yet another tragedy involving a Malaysian plane with hundreds of innocent people. I was contemplating what the people would have felt or seen prior to their death. My husband, well read and informed as usual, explained that they wouldn’t have seen it coming and died instantly.

The day before yesterday, upon finding out about the tragedy and reading some news on the internet (which I rarely do, due to the unsettling impact is has on me) I had to stop reading a graphic description of what was found on the ground. I was thinking about the people on the ground, finding human debris in their backyard. They are affected too. They deal with trauma.

Knowing someone personally has brought this a bit closer to my heart. I know the people around her from the days I worked with her and them. The people affected through her lacking presence at work… her family. I’m in shock.

Grief vibrates through time and space.

Grief and its relatives has caught up with me. Not all of them are present. I’m not sad. I’m paralysed by shock and disbelief.

Grief vibrates with any loss previously experienced, wether we lost someone or something.

About being strong

Recently, upon a post “Choosing to remember reflect and re-connect 30 months and a rose for my mum” one of my supportive readers commented: “Be strong my friend”. I have to say, I’m neither strong nor weak. I just am. In the moment. With what is. Strong or weak is a measurement upon personal characteristics of what ‘being strong’ or ‘weak’ means to the observers.

I do neither wish a bereaved person to be strong, nor weak.
I do wish them to be allowed (by themselves and others) to be. Just be.

What You DON’T See



Today I’ve been reminded again that there are so many situations that GRIEVING PARENTS are dealing with, time and time again, weeks, months and years after the actual loss of their child. Even a picture of a place can carry so much memories…

I read Paul’s beautiful piece about Letting Go and Carly’s article Easing The Pain For Bereaved Loved Ones This Holiday Season  on Still Standing Magazine.

Just the other day in my previous blog I posted about ‘The Things that Are Just Mine’ and there are so many challenges bereaved parents go through on a daily basis which mostly they don’t share. Articles like Paul’s, Carly’s and all the other authors on Still Standing Magazine AND all the authors of their personal blogs are helping those who might be lucky enough NOT to belong to this ‘club’ of GRIEVING PARENTS but touched enough because they know someone or support someone close to them.

Thinking about the book (GRIEVING PARENTS – Surviving Loss As A Couple) I’m reflecting on the challenges a couple is facing post loss. These are mostly challenges you (the public) won’t see. In the light of the last post of openness and allowing vulnerability by sharing, let me share some of the challenges I have experienced:

  • different forms and time lines of grieving
  • being emotional in all forms: sad, angry, moody… (you name it) and projecting it onto my partner
  • impatience, with myself, with my partner, with our surviving child, with everything and every one – to the point of my partner not understanding why
  • being unrecognizable to myself and finding nothing ‘normal’ in the ‘new normal’
  • sadness over not having another child
  • sudden outburst of _____ (you name it)
  • not being able to multi-task (as I was before), like listening to my partner while feeding my child
  • physical challenges like overbearing tiredness, inflammations, head aches.

What are the challenges you have experienced post loss that you are free enough to share?

Everyone Wants To Write a Book

Want to OR Write a Book?

Want to OR Write a Book?

According to a study, 80% of the people interviewed said that ‘they wanted to write a book’. Besides the question about who they were interviewing it seems something I have heard a lot lately from people I know.

So here I am too: I am writing a book! 

I first wanted to write a ‘book’ when I was 12 and started writing a story in a notebook. I didn’t get far. I knew how to write a story but had no clue ‘how’ to write a book and given that ‘a’ story does not make a book, I gave up.

After many assignments and essays during my studies I started writing articles and currently I have published an amazing number of 467 articles. I have to say I’m impressed at myself, given that English is my 4th language.

Again, writing article does not make a book but here I’m NOT giving up.

Why am I writing this book?

As many grieving people have experienced, we receive some tremendous support, sprinkled with some more and some less helpful tips and some tremendously inappropriate clichés.
In order to process all my tumultuous time following my daughter’s and my mother’s death, I personally was led to write many blog posts. While I shared the deepest and rawest of my emotional roller coaster I also shared practical suggestions on how I felt best supported. So in response to what was not helpful, I also wrote about what WAS helpful and what COULD be said instead of those clichés which in fact are often just well meant attempt to ‘say something’ at a time when no words do justice.

I also had people asking me for help in their process of grief, which came naturally for me given my profession but also my personal experience.

Through all of this I have been encouraged to write more and in specific a book.


First I didn’t know how or when or for whom really? Now I do: Grieving parents and the challenges they face as a couple in the aftermath of loss

Following weeks of research I found the perfect match between my professional experience working with clients, especially in the area of relationship challenges and grief, as well as my personal experience of the challenges in my relationships, especially the couple’s relationship following our grief. Given my research, there is plenty of material for grieving mothers, supporting children in their grief, dealing with grief in general etc. but so far I only found very few dealing with the couple’s relationship post grief, especially when losing a child as it affects both parents in some form or other. Given my personal experience I know how challenged I have and still am at times in my relationship with my husband.

What is the book about?

So here we are and this is where I need your help: If you are or know someone who is a ‘Grieving Parent’ I would LOVE you to answer my questionnaire in research for my book. A book is only as good as readers think who have READ the book. So you tell me what you want to have in the book! Here is the survey:

Not Dead But Still Grieving

Letting go

Letting go

In the past few weeks I had 3 conversations with close friends about the grieving for the ‘not dead‘. While attending Bill Coller’s workshop on ‘The grieving process‘, he also extensively spoke about this topic.

Most of you have experienced grief for a relationship that broke apart, which also means that the person hasn’t died. But this was more about people, specifically family members who my close friends hadn’t ‘broken up with’, they were still somehow present in their lives but there was also the experience of huge grief.

He no longer is what he was before

Bill Coller mentioned that the grief about the son ‘who no longer was the son’ the parents were used to as a challenging form of grief. He recalled an experience of a family whose son had an accident and was still alive but paralysed and unconscious right after the accident. The person he was before would never be coming back.

Given that we associate grieving with someone or something that ‘no longer exists’ it often feels strange (more…)

How To Go On?

...takes time...

…takes time…

Recently I had a reader of my blog reach out to me and and I wrote her an email. Below you can find her email (published with her permission, thank you KC).

Upon writing my response (see further below) I realised that her questions were so universal and pertinent to the experience of loss and baby loss in particular that I wanted to share it here:

Thanks Nathalie…

I just wish to know how to deal with the days when I feel hopeless. I know that I have to go on, I’ve still here after losing my baby and without his father. It’s been almost 2 years and I still struggle. I went to my doctor and I do have support from friends and family members but sometimes it just isn’t enough. It’s like I’m experiencing everything all at once and some days I’m very happy but most I am not. I truly want to die. I just want to know how mothers do it, I mean moms who’ve lost a baby and still go on and at some point seem normal? I want to stop thinking so much, is cause all the time I think how my life would have been if I had my baby. And I think about what I did that maybe caused harm to my baby. Doctors say it was just a “defect” but I just want some advice of things I can do. I admire your strength to share your story, because when I wrote mine I broke down and I think it saddened me more. And I keep on reading it and just makes me cry.


Dear KC,

Thank you for your email and the courage to reach out.

I will share from my experience, which is obviously different as from when I had my twins and when Amya passed away I had another baby to care for, to get up in the night to feed… No matter how down I was feeling, I had to. I also had a lot of support, from my family and, as soon as I was able to get out of the house, I went to see a psychologist.

Even though I’m a therapist myself I knew that no matter what I had to find someone suitable for me to support me through and with this. So I’d have to say, getting professional support is No. 1

Generally speaking (from my experience) society is not well equipped to deal with loss. I knew that from working with my clients. I find it therefore of utmost importance to find a support group, for example mums who have experienced baby loss. We also went to a support group at the hospital for some time. There is a huge support network out there online, on blogs and on FB. You might however also like to find a physical support group in your area.

Grief is a very personal journey and it does not usually help to compare yourself to others who seem ‘normal’. Finding my ‘new normal’ was and still is a journey with ups and downs. My friends wanted me to feel better, which for some meant not to raise the topic and for others it was that they didn’t contact me at all. Few of them were and still are able to ask questions and I’m grateful to them. I also know I cannot expect everyone to always react in appropriate ways. I didn’t even know what the appropriate way was before my own experience and remembering that what would be appropriate to me might not be for someone else.

Acceptance – I find grief is a huge experience in acceptance, acceptance of the reality of having lost our daughter, also acceptance of me in whatever stage I was and am in and acceptance of other people’s reaction. Even acceptance of not being able or not wanting to accept…

Grief in itself is a journey through huge emotions, which is unavoidable. That’s why support is so important. There are no shortcuts, it’s just experiencing again and again… If you have read my blog, you might have seen that my mother committed suicide 4,5 months after my daughter’s passing. This brought on huge amounts of anger (which is also part of the grief cycle) to the point where I was so exhausted, and yet I was able to go through the experience of emotionality and now, almost 2 years later, I am at a different point. Yes, the anger is still there sometimes but not with the extent it was then.

In terms of writing your story: psychological studies have found that when you write things down, when you let them out, when you write it down from your soul you allow your being to process and release. This might mean sadness and tears. Most times I write a blog post that comes from the heart, as well as when I compiled the video, I have tears streaming down my face and I wouldn’t expect any thing else. I do also know that with every tear I give time to the ongoing process of grief.

Feeling guilty is also very much part of this grieving process. No matter how many doctors or friends told me ‘it was nothing you could have done differently’ I had to and still sometimes have to find peace in the question of guilt. The mind is tricky like quick sand – you might think you found some stable footing and then it gives you some more thoughts which lead to doubt. Don’t trust quick sand…

You are asking yourself the questions that I have, you are tired of life, as I was at times. This is normal AND I congratulate you for reaching out. Search for like minded people who accept where you are at in your process, people who understand. At the same time continue to reach out.

I hope this has helped you.

All Love, Nathalie


Great resources online:

Unexpected Visitor: Grief

~ hello again ~

~ hello again ~

Waves and surges of deep sadness from the depth of my soul vibrated through my being when I chatted to a friend who lost her niece. In a split second I was back in the midst of my maternal grief I felt 2 years ago, feeling with the mother who had just lost her daughter.

I don’t know this woman and her daughter, besides from the photos that were shared with me. What I do know is the path of a mother who has lost her daughter, the past of grief & loss. I know that deep sadness that renders the brain and physical being incapable, barely functioning on auto-pilot, waiting to wake up from what seems like a nightmare. ‘This can’t be true’ and ‘why did this happen’… among tears streaming, just streaming endlessly. Every waking moment spent thinking about this being that no longer is alive, the daughter who was meant to live past her mother’s days.

The sadness is deep.

I think the most difficult thing in life is to accept the things inevitable, the things we can’t change no matter how much we wish it were different. Acceptance can feel harsh and cold and cruel. How ironic that acceptance, then, is the very thing that liberates and brings happiness. The only way out, is through.
~ Femke Stuut

The sadness is deep. And it needs time and space. Not to heal. But to present to. To honour the love for this being, our daughters who passed before our time.

So be sad. Be sad now and then. When ever.

Are You Ready To Meet Your Grief?

Grief is universal – everyone has it inside of them, it’s just dormant, if you’re not dealing with having ‘lost’ someone or something.

Here’s your chance to get in touch with it:

Meet Zach Sobiech, who says: ‘You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living’.

Watch his story here.

‘While his music became a hit, it was his incredible message that touched millions: do not waste another second before you start truly living your life.’

Zach’s song ‘Cloud’ here…

I Remembered…

You Never Know When It Next Hits You – Grief…

I’m not shy to expose myself to the stories of families grieving for the loss of their children.

Some of you might think: ‘Why expose yourself to that?’  

The answer is simple: Grief, the emotion felt when remembering the loss of Amya is there whether I meet it or not. It does not just go away because I don’t feel it for a moment. One father in a support group of parents dealing with the loss of their babies pre or post birth once put it poignantly: ‘Why would I want the pain to end? The pain is the very connection to my daughter.’

Today I read the story of a family who lost their 4 year-old son. Today I met my own grief. It doesn’t happen every time I read stories like theirs, but it happens when a memory gets triggered. Heather, the mother of the boy, described the last bath they gave to their son and suddenly I remembered.

~ precious memories ~

~ precious memories ~

I remembered her last and only bath.
I remembered my first time giving a bath to my baby.
I remembered her tiny body in my hands.
I remembered her head covered in dark hair.
I remembered her tiny hands and fingers.
I remembered the soft pink color of her face.
I remembered her tiny red lips.
I remembered the gentleness with which we stroke her skin.
I remembered the sorrow of knowing that this will be the only time.

Responding to Grief

~ I'm thinking of you ~

~ I’m thinking of you ~

There are lots of words written about what NOT to say in response to grief but not enough about HOW to respond to grief. This is my experience about what could help when in grief. It specifically is my experience in relation to the death of my 3-day-old baby and the suicide of my mother, it may however also be the case for other people’s grief in different circumstances.

Asking Questions

Inquire how I’m doing, what I’m feeling. Don’t tell me ‘it must be hard’ or ‘you must feel so awful’. Ask me, don’t tell me. Ask again tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Be gentle when asking, it needn’t be an interrogation.

I’m So Sorry

This is the simplest and most appropriate sentence. It bridges any ‘I don’t know what to say’ or ‘I’m lost for words’ moment, any awkward silence that you might be tempted to fill with clichés. Don’t. Just say ‘I’m sorry for your loss’.

Show You Care (more…)

“It wasn’t meant to be” is Dead!

Do not 'meant to be' me...

Do not ‘meant to be’ me…

I have said it myself.

I hear people say it.

Who are we to know ‘what was or wasn’t meant to be?’ anyway??? The statement itself is just that: a statement. Something that is said to attempt make us or others feel better, to accept the inacceptable, to continue in the face of the not-understandable, to find justification for something that has none.

The dictionary explains: ‘meant to be’ meaning ‘ destined to exist. So then ‘it wasn’t meant to be’ would mean ‘not destined to exist’. For those who believe in fate… it would fall into that realm. For those who believe in God… it would depend on His will.

Whatever realm you fit it in, it has little to no place in response to someone grieving. If they say it, ok. If you say it, not good. Totally wrong. Out of place.

Whether someone dies or lives is just that. Whether you chose to believe it’s because it’s meant to be or not, is your choice but PLEASE do not try and console anyone in any kind of grief with this cliché. It’s totally out of place.

It might sound good it relation to romanticism, but that’s it.