When the evening pulls the sun down…

I remember the nights of the first couple of weeks. How I went to bed, hearing nothing, numbed, thinking about every detail, hearing every aspect of silence, being overwhelmed with loneliness and hurt.

I remember the mo(u)rnings of the first couple of weeks. Unable to hear a song out loud, but repeating that one song in my head, unable to hear my children chear, unable to sing out loud, unable to write any sense down, deaf by the hurt and shattered hearts around that kept breaking and breaking all over again.

I waited for every ‘phase’ to go by. Please dear brain of mine, accept and acknowledge what has happened. It is not a bad dream, it is worse, it is a frightening reality. But there are ways to go ahead and move forward. World does not end here. So please carry on. Do your job, run errands, do the dishes, fold the laundry. Accept and enter phase 2 please.

There are still moments in which I try to convince myself of that. That this can and needs to be accepted. While I had hoped to be in stage 6 or something by now. Which feels very confusing and frustrating. What is stage 1 still doing here?

I looked at others, and wondered how it looked like they went forward while I couldn’t. There is no way that this unrestrained talkative chatterbox will come back, energy levels will not be restored, and no way this musiclover is able to still love and listen to music while the world has stopped turning. I couldn’t and wouldn’t watch laughing people and feel the joy. I wanted everybody to share in the pain and feel lonely. They should feel this. It felt fair and just.

How could relatives reinvent their life path and carry on?! Stop carrying on. I need everybody to still stand still. I want to stand by your steady side.

Months went by, and my worries rose; what if those people pretended they carried on, but they would be facing a huge setback in the long run because they didn’t accept it? Or because they didn’t acknowledge the horror that had happened? This would probably break them all over again. And even worse…

It appeared they did struggle. Of course. But with a different pace. It is like a pendulum; swinging one way for a once and swinging in the other direction next. After which the first direction comes back. Or maybe something changed and the dimensions changed; it still seemed to be a swing going in one direction, followed by another one, followed by yet another one etc.

It can be comforting; a bad episode will be followed by a better one. Sun will rise again. But new evenings will pull her back down. Hearts will be broken over and over again. But afterwards sun will rise again. Maybe sometimes just a little bit, maybe other days she will be more present.

So please enjoy good moments, even manic one, please do. They will load your batteries. Which is needed. For the bad episodes. I wish you less intense bad episodes. And full batteries. That load the ability to bounce back after the bad episodes. Tons of resilience.

“How were you able to regain stability and control?”

Her pen waited on the paper; she allready drew a bullet point. Like I would list several things. She just caught me in a balanced moment. She made me look and feel very in control.

Sun is being pulled down again. Longing for silence at previous evenings, comforted by the arrival silence sometimes, frightened by it now and then.

I just cannot predict this (which is very difficult to be accepted by a sceptic scientist like me) and I will probably never accept it. So dear phase one, you can stick around, together with the other ones. I will tolerate you because some days you are less present than others. Meanwhile I do not need to accept anything, I do not need to be able to predict this, others neither. We just will be. Which is perfect.

Please do not expect anything, tolerate everything. You mustn’t of course, but it would be nice. That if tomorrow is grey, I can share it with you, and you can share it with me. And that is okay.


In brief, it is not about the phases nor the stages, they can provide us insight in how we feel, but are not linear and do not appear in strict sequences. The label of “stages” and “phases” can thus be confusing and probably misleading and in the end inadequate. Things can go up and down, and back up and down. From “phase 1” to “phase 5” and back to 3 and 1 and so on. That is okay. It is something that helps me settling in with others’ trajectories. Those are also okay. It soothes me knowing that I do not have to worry extra about others’ pathways. I can care (and worry) whenever and whatever needed, and that is – I hope – already quite something.

Out with the norm or normative thinking (for example: “you should talk about it in this way or another”), in with the tolerance for differences and individuality.

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