In 2008 I published my book (in Dutch), which describes my and my partner Ben's life before and right after he committed suicide.
I felt I needed to be the voice of those with suicidal thoughts as well as of relatives who have or had someone with these thoughts close to them. That's why soon after Ben's death I knew I had to write this book, the title already there...
The same year my book got published I started to work as a volunteer for 113, for which I attended the masterclass suicide prevention at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
During this period I've been interviewed for tv, newspapers and several magazines. For some reason it was hard to find relatives who wanted to share their experience.
Suicide will always be a important subject to me and I still feel our society isn't well equipped in dealing with people for whom life has become unbearable at one point. I've heard some terrible stories and I know for some people death truly was/is a liberation. Most people however don't want to die: they just want a different life.
It's so important to give them the opportunity to voice those feelings, to share their thoughts and emotions, in order to heal and move forward.
So don't back away, but keep listening and talking!
I know Ben has experienced happiness, but overall it must have been difficult to maintain himself in this life.
A few days before he died we went to see the exhibition "Tempting the Gods". My guess is he must have done this many times. He knew it was inevitable, but he didn't know when. In the end it was up to him, not the Gods.
I know wherever he is now, he's good. And so am I.
Everyday there's a moment he'll be in my thoughts, as well as other loved ones who've passed away. Just for a few moments they'll be with me: by passing a place, a memory or hearing some music.
Like now: just as I'm writing this, "Alive and kicking" of Simple Minds is playing on the radio. Not just a song, but a song he said was important to him after we met. No coincidence there but a perfect example of synchronicity and beautiful evidence: love never dies and he's alive and kicking. More than ever.