Two weeks ago, I posted an article about my experience with grief. For me, this journey started quite some years ago, but peaked when I lost my mother in 2021. A few months after my loss, I met Hermien Schippers, BUas’ grief and bereavement counsellor. Although we only had one conversation, she gave me the feeling I could tell my story without holding back or thinking about the other person's emotions. It was a relief, but also a reminder of how good, scary and sometimes difficult it is to keep talking about your grief.  

In this article, I will talk with Hermien about her role as the grief and bereavement counsellor of BUas. Why is it important to her? What does bereavement counselling look like? Is it only talking or something more? Thesecond part of this interview will be posted on December 13th, which will be more about grief itself. 

Hermien Schippers started as a study coach for Tourism at BUas in 2000. After seven years, she became a student counsellor for the Hotel and Facility domain and after a year, she combined this task with being a confidential counsellor for this programme. In addition, Hermien has been working extensively as a grief and bereavement counsellor within BUas, since this year. One of the reasons this job is incredibly close to Hermien’s heart is because she has had to deal with a lot of loss herself. This caused her to develop further as a counsellor. “I have come full circle for myself so that the loss I have experienced has meaning in my life, and I can contribute to the lives of others with my experiences.” 

"Grieving needs an audience."

Hermien Schippers

As a grief and bereavement counsellor, she focuses on individual sessions with students centred around the grief the student is coping with. “Loss is something that happens to everyone,” Hermien says. Therefore, she also helps students who have lost things such as health and dreams or are missing something they will never have. “A Bereavement counsellor offers support when someone does not feel powerful enough or does not have a good resource nearby to learn how to cope with the loss themselves.” She experiences more and more interest among young people towards the bereavement sessions. “It's not just talking. It's confiding in yourself and using a listening ear to access the emotions that matter. Many are trying to deal with their emotions alone, while it is so healing to do that in the presence of another. Grieving needs an audience.”  

"Grieving is feeling."

Hermien Schippers

In Hermien’s sessions, it is not just talking about grief. Through the use of creativity, you will deal with your grief. “Feeling doesn't happen in your head. Talking and thinking happen in your head. Grieving is a feeling. When you work with a creative form, you feel more and sink into a specific energy.” An example of these creative exercises is giving the student a box and asking them to decorate it to how their inside and outside looks. The purpose is to take a minute to think about it and feel it. 

In the end, not everyone is ready to talk and deal with their grief in the presence of someone else. It is always up to you if you feel comfortable enough to tell your story. “Sometimes, you come to a point where there's just no other way, and then it's about whether you have the guts to admit to yourself that you need help.” What Hermien experiences a lot is that students appreciate being able to talk about it outside their usual circle, so they don't feel they are burdening anyone with their story. 

If you are grieving and want some help to give it the proper attention and care, Hermien’s door is always open. How can you find her: Go to BUas Student Portal – Education - Student Well-Being – Best Training – Permanent Offer - or you can make an appointment with her via this link

Check here to read my last post about my experience with grief. And don’t forget to read part two of this interview on December 13th.