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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How do you deal with sudden death?

On the risk of sounding too gloomy, I'd like to write a little about the way in which people deal with the sudden departure of a loved one.

I came to the idea when I was browsing a hotel-restaurant site. We're going to dine there next Saturday night. Earlier this year, chef and owner Steve Vandenberghe died while doing a rally in Africa. Not by accident, but because he got a stroke. He left a wife, Anneke, and a young son, Glen.

Now Glen was a rising star in the cookery world. In 2011 he won a major cookery contest (something like Master Chef) and got a contract to work for Peter Goossens in Hof Ter Cleve (3 Michelin stars). He stayed there two years, then went on with sous-chef Michael Vrijmoed who began his own business. Later on Glen moved to work with Niek Ducheyne. He intended to more work in the kitchens of famous chefs, and then return to the family's business and help out his father and mother.

But the sudden death of his dad forced him to make a decision. Should he continue his own career - or return immediately to the hotel-restaurant of his parents and be chef there? Well, he decided to return. (

I think that is such a beautiful gesture. Glen could easily have said, 'No, I want to be a Michelin chef myself; Do what you want with the hotel-restaurant.'

When our own father died - also of a stroke - we had to be adults at once. We had to take care of our mother (she was never able to do much on her own), start cooking and cleaning, take control over the money and banking. No time to weep and be worthless.

I see that's the way it often goes. Either you let go yourself - and you complain about how unfair life has dealt you all the time, or you face the facts and go on with life. Of course you miss the person who left, but that doesn't mean your life has ended as well.

What do you think?

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