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Death can seem like something from another world when one is young. But it happens, even though no one likes to talk about it.
Lotte Bowser, 31, lost her fiabcé Ben Kouijzer, 36, last November.
Her journey through grief — not an easy one — has served as inspiration for many.
She and Ben met in 2014. Within four weeks, they knew they loved each other, soon taking their relationship a step further and moving in together.
They were happy – music, their common passion. From Glastonbury to Burning Man, they had the best time at festivals. Ben was a music agent.
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In 2019, as reported by The Mirror, the unexpected happened: Ben was diagnosed with a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour (MPNST).
At that point, a challenge of highs and lows started. It was a difficult battle that in 2020 took the couple to Tijuana, Mexico for Ben to receive life-saving treatment.
He responded to it until he contracted Covid-19. Ben spent 24 days on a ventilator before passing away on November 14, 2020.
Nine months later, Lotte is sharing her experience of grief with over 18 thousand followers on Instagram. She portrays and discusses her feelings transparently, showing both the lighter and darkest moments of her loss.
On her profile, she posts about books and resources that have helped her in the hope they make benefit others too.
There were days where I felt I was actually going to die because the physical pain was so intense
Lotte recently spoke with Georgie Crawford on The Good Glow Podcast, opening up about how much she misses her partner and “twin flame” Ben: “He was a walking embodiment of love and life, his mission was to make a positive difference to help people no matter what shape or form that took, he had an enormous impact [in his] albeit short life – it was very meaningful.”
The moment Ben died was the most painful of her life: “I remember my body just shaking uncontrollably, like a semantic earthquake.
“The trauma of that news was just indescribable.
“The experience of having to step into a Covid specific ICU ward — head to toe in a hazmat suit, in the latex gloves, the mask, the goggles, the hairnet, etc. — and to not be able to touch the skin of your loved one who’s passed, only touch through his gloves, is just utterly horrific.”
Lotte says that there isn’t enough time “to wrap your head around” what has happened before going into “all of the horrific administrative responsibilities that come with death”.
Many of Lotte’s Instagram followers connect with her experience of grief: “There were days when I didn’t want to feel such intense pain, it was all-consuming, mind-body-soul pain… there were days where I felt I was actually going to die because the physical pain was so intense.”
As the months have gone by, she explains, she has learned to “breathe a bit deeper” and even have a good time: “It has changed – it ebbs and it flows and the waves of grief when they hit me, they are just as intense as day one but I have a bit more space.
“I can go periods of time without being consumed by my grief or consumed by my thoughts of Ben.
Then, she sometimes wonders if it’s okay to feel okay: “You’re then grappling with feelings of guilt, like ‘you haven’t thought about it today, you haven’t cried today’, but actually, we have to grant ourselves some grace, it’s impossible to be breathing and in pain 24/7, one hundred percent of the time.
“Let’s seize those lighter moments and be grateful for them.”
Suggesting that everyone can get to the point where she is now, Lotte says: “How can you live without somebody you never thought you could live without? And here I am, eight months later, still living.”
“I really hope that what I’ve been through and the way that I have moved through my grief and integrated my grief over the last eight months, I really hope that shows you that no matter what happens — breakups, divorces, tragedies — whatever life throws at us, we are gonna be okay. I didn’t think that I would be, but now I know that I can and I will be.
Her friends, therapy, counselling, yoga and meditation have been key in Lotte getting where she is today. She calls all these her “support system”.
Lotte is setting up a non-profit in Ben’s honour, as well as writing a book on grief to support the community she has built since she became a widow.: “These are all things that get me up in the morning, make me excited about the future and are a way for me to carry Ben with me.
“As time passes, Ben will always be at the heart of what I do, and I’m going to be shouting about that man until I join him.”
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