The Mourning Lady
In March 2016 I completed the Mourning Woman / Soul Man training under the guidance of Linda Wormhoudt.
What is a mourning woman?
The ritual practices around dying, the deceased and the next of kin diminished sharply after the 1950s. The secularisation and the post-war 'just do it' attitude led to the dismantling of most (mainly Christian) rituals around dying and death. The horrors of World War II caused a different, less positive attitude to the Christian faith structure, and people were hard at work rebuilding the country. The churches emptied, and the acts of dying and parting were separated from faith. The new way: short and business-like in nature, and stripped of anything that felt spiritual.
Even now in our time, we still feel the echoes of that turnaround. Most of the actions surrounding dying and funerals are still mostly short and practical. Where in the past a priest accompanied the deceased and the next of kin, now support is not always available. In principle, all actions related to parting must be streamlined, fit into timeframes, and be controlled with a head.
For some people, this sleek way is appropriate. Not for others.
The dark goddess and sickle of Frau Holle, European goddess of death and rebirth.
Flowers at a roadside altar on Texel
Of course, a transition from life to death can, in practical terms, be without rituals. But when we do that, we notice again and again that something is missing. Sometimes emotions are not given enough space, sometimes mourning stops. Studies show that ritual frameworks add something positive. Rituals are important to mark and facilitate the transition from life to death, for the deceased and for those left behind. Rituals provide a framework within which all involved can reflect on the departure of a loved one and deal with it. The deceased continues, the next of kin must also continue.
Society has changed considerably over the years: Christianity, once the largest spiritual movement in the Netherlands, now plays an increasingly smaller role in the care and guidance of rituals around death. In our multicultural society there are now several spiritual paths to follow: there is more choice and more information is available. Many people walk a different spiritual path during life than their ancestors. But what support can you get if you are not religious, are not a follower of one of the great faiths, but do realize that the dying process is an important moment of transition, in which a ritual interpretation is desirable? What if you do want to have support, for yourself, for one of your loved ones during that moment of transition? And which interpretations are possible?
(Text by Linda Wormhoudt)
My work as a mourning woman
After about a year of illness, my father passed away before my eyes. I was 27 years old at the time. I am the only child and my mother and father were separated. Although my father's friends helped me during the illness and subsequent dying process and were there to support me, I felt very alone at the time. Everything fell on my shoulders and this was very difficult for me, especially because I could not share the gravity of this with anyone, not even during the grieving process after his death. I found myself missing someone who could stay calm, be an anchor for me, and help me channel all my feelings in a good way. It was for that reason that I started the training for Mourning Woman with Linda Wormhoudt. I wanted to support others in these processes that had such a profound impact on me.
But when someone is dying, that person may also need support. Perhaps in his own feelings of fear, anger, impotence, but also help in letting go of life and easing the transition.
A specific altar dedicated to praying for the dying person. Feelings are structured, channeled and aimed at promoting the dying and also mourning process.
What can I do for you and / or your loved one (s)?
- Spiritual and psychological (emotional) support for the dying and next of kin
- Help in arranging matters surrounding dying
- Rituals surrounding death and during funeral / cremation services
- Support with grief counseling by means of various methods such as certain rituals
For more information about my working method and other questions about mourning and dying, please send me an e-mail .