Interviewserie rouw Jojanneke van den Bosch
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nrc.next interview series – V Jojanneke

You can never be unreasonable again

Final episode of the short interview series about how young people deal with loss and grief. Today: Jojanneke van den Bosch. She lost both of her parents. „The people surrounding someone who lost his or her parents can take over a small part of the parents’ role. Doing nothing is always a bad idea.”

By: MARIEKE POELMANN

What is it like to lose your parents at a young age and what’s the best way to deal with that by the people surrounding an orphan? Communications expert Jojanneke van den Bosch (39) answers questions like these. Questions that people are afraid to ask, because death is still taboo. With her website weeswijzer.nu and her book So, You’re An Orphan Now Van den Bosch wants to use her own experiences about becoming an orphan to help others. She lost her father and her mother, five months apart. She and her sister were left behind, all on their own when she was just 14 years old.

„Orphans don’t really stand out in our society because we have a very mediatised and conditioned image of an orphan. People think about Oliver Twist, Annie, or Harry Potter. Somebody who is really sad or really tough. Apart from that, it’s still a taboo. Not because these children are a taboo themselves, but because mortality is. If your child tells you a classmate’s mother died, you think: damn it, that could have been me.

I want people to know how many children lose their parents in The Netherlands. I calculated those numbers myself, the Central Bureau of Statistics never investigated it. Later on they finally did, in 2013 the Central Bureau of Statistics published a report stating that there are 34.000 orphans and half-orphans under 18 in The Netherlands. According to the CBS, that number is raised every year by 6.000 new (half)orphans. But when you’re 20 years old, in a way you’re also still a child. So if you add young people up to 23 years old, that adds another 25 percent.”

Read full text (in Dutch) here