Read here about the background of our employees, and how they got to ima.
Ruth van den IJssel (1972)
I’m married to Paul and we live in Diemen. In 2002, we had our daughter Mente followed by our son Mink in 2004. In 2010, I became pregnant with our third child. After 32 weeks of pregnancy, our son turned out to have died in the womb (stillbirth or fetal death). Roman was born four days later, on 24 December 2010. He came home that same day and stayed home until the funeral. Paul and I arranged everything ourselves, from saying goodbye to the funeral.
Our daughter Moon was born on 11 November 2011.
Ruth is the co-owner of ima afscheidszorg.
Francien Bisschop (1970)
I’m married and live in Utrecht with Nico and our three sons and a daughter, Joep (1999), Pepijn (2002), Tim (2004) and Noa (2012). In 2001 and 2010, I miscarried after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
I lost my parents at a young age and played an active role in organising the farewell and the funeral.
Francien is the co-owner of ima afscheidszorg.
Marga Heemskerk (1966)
I’m married and live with my husband Jeroen in Diemen. We have 2 sons. One is studying in Amsterdam, the other in Enschede. I’m a specialist nurse and have been working on the labour ward of a hospital in Amsterdam since 1996. Here I’m also in the working group for perinatal mortality.
During all those years, I have assisted multiple parents in dealing with the death of their child. I’ve experienced that love and attention can mean so much to parents in this difficult period.
Through my work, I have first-hand experience with working with ima afscheidszorg. Their vision of a combined welcome and farewell appeals to me very much and when they asked me to join their team, I didn’t need long to think about it.
I hope to be able to accompany parents as part of a memorable and comforting farewell from their child, in a way they want to.
Evelien Holstege (1965)
I’m married to Gart and the mother of three sons, Christiaan (1987), Matthias (1990) and Ruben (1995). I live in Nunspeet. Meanwhile, there have been quite a few additions to the family with daughters-in-law, 2 grandsons and 1 granddaughter.
I didn’t lose any children myself. However, during my work as a maternity nurse, I’ve looked after stillborn babies multiple times and accompanied parents during the week thereafter. A very special but also extremely valuable time with their child. To me, being part of welcoming the baby and preparing your farewell from it at the same time is a very special experience, a process of collecting tangible memories.
I hope that during my work for ima afscheidszorg, I can support people in coping with their immense grief, presenting them with options and letting them make choices they feel comfortable with. Giving them a farewell from what’s closest to them and in which everything is arranged according to their wishes. And I want to help them with love and by providing assistance and advice in the process.
Nina Schipper (1978)
I live in Amsterdam, together with my dear Joep. We share our love of life and all it has to offer, which is why we soon knew that we wanted to start a family.
Because of a chronic condition, we rely on IVF, which I believe to be a comfortable aid. At the end of 2016, we received the happy news that I was pregnant with our first child, we were over the moon.
Unfortunately, things ran a rather different course. After 20 weeks, our baby proved to suffer from a condition that was “incompatible with life”, and we said goodbye at a term of 25 weeks. I started doing everything in slow motion to maximise my experience and emotions in that the last period of pregnancy. What other memories could I still create? After all, how was I to let go of this child so soon that was so wanted and desired? We went from looking for prams to making funeral and farewell arrangements. That was such a violent transition.
During this period, we met a lot of special people, including Ruth of ima afscheidszorg, who’d arranged a wonderful and loving farewell for our child Madelief.
Our daughter brought us so much, including an even stronger need to listen to my heart and to what I have to bring to the world.
A year after her birth, Ruth, Francien and I decided that we wanted to work together.
Every time, I feel honoured to be present at such vulnerable and intimate moments, to witness such sadness as well as this overwhelming love. I’m so grateful for what Madelief gave me, that I can use it and pass it on to parents who feel just as shocked and defeated as I did at the time.
The fact that we spent so much time, attention and love to welcoming her actually turned us into (proud) parents and I believe this has helped enormously in my/our recovery and the fact that I can now enjoy life again and be happy. I, therefore, believe that emphasising the welcome with the parents is extremely important as part of the recovery after such an intense and life-changing experience.
Magdeleen Matter (1967)
When I started working as a midwife back in 1998, I knew that if ever midwifery were to end for me, I’d continue at the other end of the circle. I believe the transition from birth to death is a logical one. People go through an important period on both occasions. You don’t get a second chance so it has to go well.
I know a bit about mourning, I lost the dream of a bigger family. I suffered two miscarriages around the birth of our son Abel (2005) and I decided to terminate another.
My father died in 2016 and saying farewell to him was the final push for me to follow the Meander funeral training in Zwolle. Their vision is in line with my own approach: small-scale, supporting and flexible. As part of me will always be a midwife, I’ve noticed that looking after parents who have lost a child is something I’m cut out for.
I live in Ezinge, between the city and the mudflats, in the Groningen countryside with my husband and child.
Jo-lan van Leeuwen (1970)
I share my life with my friend Humphrey and I live in Culemborg. I haven’t lost a child myself, but there’s still my older brother Sven, who died in my mum’s belly around 24 weeks. I carry his energy and the experience of both my parents’ unprocessed sorrow close to me. My parents were never able to see him, he couldn’t be given a name at that time, he never had an actual place in this world; my parents were never able to mourn his loss back then.
As Sven’s sister, it took me almost 50 years to give him a place in my life and within our family. But often, I still feel the space he left behind. Based on that experience, I know how important it is to be able to say goodbye properly in the way any parent would want to, being given the time and space parents need for that.
Karen Admiraal-der Kinderen (1989)
I married my teenage love Ruben and we live in Rotterdam. When I was 22, I already knew I wanted to support parents and families with their loss following a death. Since then, I’ve supported a lot of families during one of the most moving events in their lives. Each time, it feels like a privilege to be able to help people through a difficult time in their lives.
I’ve faced loss and mourning since I was a child, although we never lost a child ourselves. I was still very young when I learned how to cope with hard transitions, the transformation processes from happiness, feeling complete and love to sorrow, loneliness and hurt. Saying goodbye is a familiar theme to me and that’s why I like to guide people through a sad period in their lives.
On sad days like this, I can help you welcome, admire and get to know your child. I can give you new ideas, so you can give your child a loving farewell, one that’s right for you and that you will lovingly carry with you for the rest of your lives.