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A therapist talks: Joke Raaphorst

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Case: the Elderly

Joke Raaphorst, bereavement coach and advisor for the elderly, uses All the Stars Above with elderly people. Joke visits many of them at home and finds that they often lead a lonely life after having lost their spouse.

“Elderly people often find it difficult to share their sorrow; they feel it should be over in a couple of months. They certainly don’t want to keep bothering the children.

It seems all so normal, enjoying life and growing old together. Yet it can suddenly change, when your partner becomes ill and dies. People have to get up alone, dine alone and return to an empty home. Who can you call upon?

I started with All the Stars Above in a small group. Sharing helps. To me All the Stars Above is a most valuable tool. Participants sometimes start out anxiously and afraid to tell. They often don’t know how to go on living. All the Stars Above gives them the faith to connect with one another.

Through a GP I met Jan, who had lost his wife Annie a year ago. Until recently Jan went along just fine. He cooked and cleaned on a daily basis. After a year Jan started losing sleep, he cried a lot, lost his appetite and his body shivered with tension. He felt empty; no one talked about his wife.

During All the Stars Above Jan drew a card with the question: ‘When was the last time you had a good laugh together?’ He looked at the other three players and he re-visualized the struggle to give his wife a shower. Aiding his wife till the end was a difficult task. ‘Just look at us now,’ he had said to her. That had made them feel connected ¬- for better or for worse.

Sharing this special moment with the group allowed Jan to regain a picture of Annie, he rediscovered a cherished memory.

The stifling feeling Jan had felt before had been replaced by a liberating one. After several All the Stars Above sessions Jan regained his sleep, his appetite and his lust for life. He was comforted by people being interested in his story and that he was allowed to speak Annie’s name.

During All the Stars Above there are tears but also a lot of laughter and a lot of bonding. Participants call each other on the phone. After eight sessions they feel connected and are ready to move on. This tool makes them stop feeling alone. All the Stars Above is an exquisite means for dealing with the death of a partner.”
Joke Raaphorst

Do you work with a specific target group? Do you want to share your experiences? Let us know and you might find yourself in our next newsletter.