The meaning of ima
ima means “mum” and “in the present”. You have become a mum and dad and that is something to be proud of, although it has turned out completely different than you’d hoped for. Your child’s physical present here is only brief, which is why it is so important to use every moment you have to cuddle, admire, show, photograph and cherish it.
The feather represents the softness of birth, the vulnerability of life as well as its resilience; bending but not breaking and very slowly finding a new future again in which you can always return to the memory of this moment.
Who are we?
Ruth door Anita DSC_0249

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.

dsc_2078 evelien

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.”



Petra Brekelmans (1969)
“I’m married to Arthur and we live in Brunssum. On 18 June 1998, we received the sad news that our twin boys Milan & Timo had died in my womb after 23+3 weeks of pregnancy. They were born that same day. They were our first children. In retrospect, decisions were made to promote life, which could have been very different. Welcoming and saying goodbye at the same time was quite frightening.
Our daughter Esra was born on 2 June 1999. Our son Arlin was born by caesarean section on 17 May 2002.

In August 1998, TweelingEngeltjes was formed, a support group for fellow suffers. This is a support group that I formed based on my own experiences. No one can take away the intense grief, but you can feel supported and understood by parents who have lived through the same experience.

I feel honoured by the fact that I can now assist parents with love through ima afscheidszorg in welcoming and saying goodbye to their deceased child. This is a task that doesn’t suit everyone, but is nonetheless extremely important for the future of all parents who have to pick up their lives after the loss of their child.”


Suzan te Slaa (1973)
“I’m married to Arjen and we live in Veldhoven. We have two sons, Krijn (2003) and Ties (2004). For a long time now, I have been wanting to assist people who are dealing with grief and loss. That’s why I did the training course for mourning and loss consultant in 2009/2010.
During this training course, I learned that I grew up with a grieving mother. In 1961, she gave birth to a baby at 28 weeks that went on to live for 4 hours. She never saw her daughter and that caused her to remain stuck in her grief for a long time.
That’s why I want to help others in creating a beautiful, loving and proper farewell to their dear child. For this, I completed a training course for funeral director, which matched my idea to do this work in the right set of mind. The parents are leading in what the farewell should look like. I hope that during my work for ima afscheidszorg, I’ll be able to provide parents with information and options at the right time, enabling them to make the right choice and arrange a farewell that does justice to their child.”


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.”





You can read more about ima afscheidszorg here:
Born farewell 1
Born farewell 2
Funeral arrangements for newborn babies
Shared grief, shared passion

Article in De Wereldwijven, May 2018:

Vriendin maart 20170001 Vriendin maart 20170002 Vriendin maart 20170003 Vriendin maart 20170004
Article in Vriendin, March 2017
 FYM Utrecht 2017-02 Ima afscheidszorg-page-001
Article in For You Magazine, March 2017

artikel Telegraaf 18-07-2016

Article about the photo exhibition in the VROUW section of Telegraaf, July 2016

press release on the photo exhibition on the AMC Intranet

VOG ima 1 okt 2015 VOG ima okt 2015
Article in VOG Magazine, trade journal for nurses on the labour ward

Happinez dec 2015
Article in Happ