When you lose someone to death, especially if it is a significant or premature, untimely death, and a death with unclear causes not investigated thoroughly, you will never get closure. You will have to learn to live with this loss and go through a hell you never imagined existed. You cannot speak to the person who died and say one last time Good-bye – or – I love you – or – Sorry I didn’t answer your last email, check your mail please, I sent you my response now – or – What happened to you that you just died like that? – or – Could I have done something? Did I miss something? – or – Will I see you again? – or – I’ll be fine, just look after yourself ………..

There is no closure. The door of grief will remain open for the rest of your life, it will cease in intensity with time, but it will never close. The shock and trauma that hits you out of no-where like a wrecking ball, and the can of worms it opens where existential fears, unanswered questions, foundational doubts of life and purpose, and every nightmare scenario crawl out and haunt you. Or as a German saying describes it better that when unforeseen events or tragedy hits you, a “rat’s tail” of events and complications will be attached to it, that you cannot get rid of.


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It’s not just grief you’re dealing with, it becomes much more complicated as the floor underneath you is ripped away, the friends you thought you have disappear, the beliefs you built your life upon become like sand running through your fingers, your mind turns into a mine field where every thought becomes an explosive danger of anger, fear, self-doubt, and the desire to explode out of this life and join the one(s) you lost.

You just have to live through it, as someone I can’t remember who, once said that, “If you’re going through hell, keep going” the light at the end of the tunnel will appear eventually, just keep going through it, keep walking, don’t stop, don’t give up…

But this kind of closure of loss of life and the dark grief it brings is not what I am talking about. The kind of closure I sought since my ordeal started, was to get closure for having additional “heat” being poured on me while I was already in hell! The heat of systemic workplace bullying and the aim to get rid of me early in my trauma, even though I worked extremely well and even during the scorching heat of grief. I gave my sweat, blood and tears to a company who returned my labour with scorn, distance, coldness, scheming, blaming, excuses, additional burdens that almost crushed me beyond repair.

I was just a number, a dirty paper cup that needed to get discarded when it started to “leak” its grief and pain, while still working flawlessly in many areas, helping to bring results to shop after shop after shop. I had no value, was of no use, an inconvenience, a burden, a nuisance, a piece of trash that needed to get thrown on a pile of other useless cups that served their purpose.


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It became even further complicated as the tactics were very clever to avoid responsibility. In my fog of grief I even apologized for many things that I didn’t need to apologize for! But this served them well where they often turned the situation around making me feel like I was the problem, like I was the one who created the problem, while it was ridiculously the opposite! When you are in shock and trauma, you cannot see as clear and cannot see the hand in front of you, like if you were crawling with your car through the thickest fog in winter, expecting to hit a car in front of you or being hit from behind just trying desperately to get out of this mess.

The closure I would have wished for, but know it is wishful thinking, is the closure where Pret A Manger would have the backbone to apologize, not just for their “insensitivity” as the CEO put it, because he did apologize AFTER I apologized first for my traumatic rants that I started after repeatedly approaching HR for months, to make suggestions in how to support me and people like me who are bereaved. His apology that was sandwiched into patronizing sentences. A typical Pret sandwich of belittling and patronizing.

I would have wished for an apology for repeatedly being put under suppressive management to get me under control, so I become quiet again like I was before, obedient and following a toxic leadership style that silences people through fear management.


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An apology for the systemic bullying and suppressive culture in shop after shop, no matter if the staff is already suffering from personal loss or any tragedy.

An apology for the refusal to be open to all the suggestions and resources available that I made the effort to seek out and bring forward, to no avail. Pret A Manger = Ready to Eat! It was all there, right in front of them, presented like on a Pret silver platter, suggestion after suggestion, link after link after resources after ideas… a waste of time and energy.

An apology for offending me, not only by offering settlement agreements if I resign and be silent about my ordeal, but having a laugh by offering peanuts while I lost all my savings after my brother died, and trying to take advantage of my financial strain. Offering peanuts as if I was a person who can be bribed with, what for Pret are pennies. No, thank you! I am not for sale nor do I prostitute my values to anyone, no matter what amount is offered.

An apology for the greatest perverted act in all of this, the sick audacity of having tasked a Development Manger who lost her brother similar to how I lost mine to sanction me. Not to put us into contact to support each other in our common grief, which would have been a massive help and step forward; but instead using her to give me a disciplinary for my electronic messaging and her allowing her dignity to be stepped upon like that!

And if this wasn’t enough, an apology for her then entering into secret electronic messaging, traumatizing me more as this “support” was fake and the hopes of someone understanding my bereavement was taken away again. How toxic, disrespectful and perverse can it get?! What else is Pret capable of?!

An apology for then dismissing me in my trauma and ill behaviour that was further fueled by the Development Manager’s secret conduct with the blessing of HR and her being excused and protected in her conduct.

An apology for the scheming and plannings of the HR department with certain key people involved since my informal approach of HR in May 2015.

An apology for stepping on my dignity, having become ill and the hopelessness and anxieties if I ever get my mental health back.

An apology for the CEO belittling me calling me his “late night girl” to the Director of HR, minimizing my ill emailing for which I got dismissed two months later!

An apology for dismissing me while my father was in intensive care just woken from a coma, thrusting me into a new hell I am going through.

An apology for the silence at my outcry in the hopes that the brilliant PR will make this go away.

I want an apology for having been robbed of the time to grieve my brother.

I want Pret A Manger to apologize for robbing me of time to come to terms.

I want the CEO to not skip out silently, but take responsibility!

There is no closure until dealt with in true integrity and a hard look at the core and foundation of Pret A Manger. If true values are not lived and visible, if slogans only serve as phrases to lull in the public and staff to present a shiny facade, the foundation will crumble eventually.

With loss to death there is no closure, but with events that happen while alive, there can be closure.

Until then, there will be no closure.


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I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment:
Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by
The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.




Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of,, and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.
©2017 – Present:,, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Dying to a Common Veil


Since my brother died there is now a “before” and “after” his death. Before his death, apart from having had a normal life (whatever “normal” means, probably anything that is known and accepted by a majority as well as being familiar to us), I had a job, friends, projects, beliefs, dreams, flaws, hopes, bills, problems, ideas, family, a sense of security and belonging … I also had this subconscious assumption that things that are out of my league, be it emotional or physical, only happen to other people.


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Yes, Thomas, make your faces. You beat me on this one!


Whatever we dread, that may be out of our league is different for everyone, and yet certain things are very common. I could not handle what others are able to handle, and others may not be able to cope with what I have to cope with. But whatever that monster for everyone is, we subconsciously assume that this would not, cannot, and will not happen to us. Not in our wildest dreams.

I have been to many funerals in my life, my first funeral was when I was about 10 or 11 when my paternal grandmother died. It was surreal to me of course, because I cannot remember my parents having explained to us kids why she died. But I remember having had this strong logical acceptance that this was normal, that when “people” get old, they die. That was that. No questions asked.

Apart from that, I didn’t grow up with my grandparents, neither the parents of my mother nor the parents of my father, as we lived in another state from relatives and both sets of grandparents did not approve of my parents getting married as both families had different religious denominations. At the post-war times, and certainly before that, in the 1950s / 60s and further there was this strong division and identity in the two major Christian denominations of Catholics and Protestants. And even though I was raised in the Atheist “belief” that there is no God, my grandparents on both sides just went through the religious notion, without really living any values of faith, as long as they had some kind of belonging to an institutionalized organization that brought structure, tradition and routine into everyone’s lives. It was still a no-go then for a Catholic to marry a Protestant and vice versa. So, I had no close relationship to my grandparents and their passing was “just” what happens to old people.

But my parents were true rebels ahead of their time, which when growing up frustrated me, but in hindsight I am proud of them defying stale traditions and daring to take a different route. But as a kid I felt left out because all my school friends went through their communion or confirmation, which only meant they got lots of money and presents! On our birth-certificates and passports in the section where it states our religion / denomination, it simply says: None. So, we kids hardly had contact with both our sets of grandparents, except for that last “point of contact” at funerals. Sad, but true.

My paternal grandfather died a few years later when I was around 13. Again logical. He was old, he lived his life, he died. And then when I was 15 a friend from school died when he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle. That was my first shock encounter of premature death, but again, he wasn’t that close of a friend, even though we hung out with a group of friends on the day he lost his life. He died shortly before midnight on the eve of his 15th birthday on the operating table in A&E.

I remember the next day when we heard the news from our teachers in every classroom, my brother and I later at home were wondering if our friend would still have the hairspray in his hair, as he always wore hairspray as the only boy we knew. It must have been our shock reaction that was pondering that once someone dies and his soul “disappears”, whatever they are wearing, hairspray, perfume… disappears, too. The scent and the glue of life on the body just disintegrating immediately when the soul and spirit leaves the body. It was our shock reaction because we were with him and other friends just hours before the accident and his death. The whole school, it seemed, came to the funeral, again very surreal, but I was able to keep his death at a distance again, hiding myself in the crowd of funeral guests and the group of friends.

And then another shock of an ex-boyfriend who died of suicide. I haven’t had contact with him for 10+ years, and apart from us having been teenagers in our clumsy way of being boyfriend / girlfriend as kids, I had a lot of distance to him by the time he died and the effect of his death and circumstances I was able to cope with.

In the years to follow several more deaths happened of acquaintances, maternal grandparents, an uncle I’ve never met, friends of friends, most of old age or cancer. Funerals that became part of life, a routine, a courtesy to attend. It was all a reality that was kept at a distance from my fenced-in security. I moved on and matured from the simple accepted reality that people die when they are old to a new reality and acceptance, that people die when they are young, too. Okay, but being the “realist” that I am, I had to come up with a new coping mechanism that was to reassure me, that this still does not apply to me personally. My reality, my illusion, my subconscious fear and desire was kept behind a veil that blinded me until the scales where ripped from my eyes.

And I know I am not the only person who is covered and blinded by that veil. In these last painful years I had to come to realize firsthand how cruel it is to have been falsely protected and plainly lied to in this society we live in, that holds the truth and reality away from us. The founders of The Good Grief Project Jimmy Edmonds and Jane Harris, parents of Joshua who died aged 22 while traveling in Vietnam, faced this brutal reality head on! They make beautiful and relevant films out of their grief, and in support of other bereaved parents. They recently toured with their documentary, “A Love That Never Dies” the UK cinemas in the summer of 2018. In the Q&A of the London screening I was privileged to be in the viewing audience in May 2018, Jimmy Edmonds commented that in Victorian times it was very normal in conversations to speak about death and dying, but it was absolute taboo to speak and mention anything about sex. And today it is the complete opposite!

No wonder we drift away like emotional corpses ourselves when a premature or any kind of death occurs in our lives. The death of my brother was not straight forward and has no clear answers, lots and lots of speculations, opinions and mostly questions which made it even more unbearable and traumatic. Not to mention HOW the news of his death was delivered.

But the reality that death IS part of life and that it happens to all of us, at any time and most brutally it happens to those we most hold dear. It happens for any and no reason, in gracious age and traumatic ways and unfair premature ages with little or no explanation. It happens to the best of people, and not “just” to those who we think deserve it. None of us is safe from any circumstances, time, expected, unexpected, acceptable and unacceptable forms of death.


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None of us is guaranteed that we will have an opportunity to say “Good bye”, to say for one last time, or even for the first time, “I love you” or “Thank you for having been my friend” or “Remember when we were kids and stole the cherries from the neighbours tree and ripped our pants on the fence running away when the neighbour chased us?” or “Yes, I promise I will take care of your kids” or “We will arrange the funeral and the music exactly how you wish”…

We are robbed of the reality and chance to deal with death in a normal way from an early age, which then catapults us deeper and much worse into trauma when death actual hits us out of nowhere, unprepared and incapable to deal with this reality. We are not prepared out of false comfort and political correctness to keep our lives thriving, young, healthy, successful, smiley. Just don’t bother us with this eternal reality. And then to face our own mortality is another ballgame altogether.

This is why it is so important and timely that people like Jimmy Edmonds and Jane Harris are courageously and openly presenting this reality in such a beautiful and creative way.

There is a way to take the veil off and die to a false “life” that doesn’t last. A veil that aims to blind and falsely protect us from the reality we all face, and look at death in a healthy and authentic way. Since we can’t avoid it, why postpone preparing for it and with it leave the bereaved person behind, traumatized and alone and in our grief drown in hopelessness and paralyzing fear?

This video by The Good Grief Project is a very personal and also beautiful portrayal of a family and friends in how they deal with the unexpected and premature death of their loved one, Joshua. They conducted and arranged the funeral by themselves and even built the coffin themselves. It is not a gloomy or depressing video documenting grief and saying good bye. It is a very personal and gracious way in how a funeral can also have a rightful place in celebrating a life while saying good bye.

I still have to find my own way to celebrate my brother, as his death, the learning of the news and the funeral was a chaos, with an indifferent police not having bothered to find the cause of death nor thoroughly look for next of kin, but being very efficient in cremating my brother before reaching us! No chance, no choice for us to decide what we want to do with his body. And the process of getting his urn and conducting his funeral was a fogged up occasion of autopilot and disorganization. I felt then and still feel that I did not give him the funeral he deserved. It was the first funeral of a “significant” death and the first I had to help organize. And no matter how many funerals I was part of before, I was utterly lost in how to do this while also trying to protect and hold up my mother. And not to mention after that the postponing and complication of my grief due to work-related bullying and mistreatment on top of my loss! I survived just about to now write about it.

At times I watch this video below and know that I can accept how it went for my brother, as I did the best I could under the circumstances and time frame. In Germany it is against the law to have and keep the ashes and urn of a loved one. Urns are kept by the council and only released to the funeral conductor, but at the funeral I just grabbed my brother’s urn out of the hands of the funeral director and carried whatever was left of him in my arms to his grave. I had to let go, not being allowed for health and safety reasons to lower his urn into the dug-out hole myself. That last part the funeral director had to do. And I have my own celebration for my big brother in my heart and have no choice to leave it like it is.

That’s why creative people like The Good Grief Project is such a breath of fresh air and a great inspiration to me and many others.


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Please watch this video below and don’t be afraid of it. As painful as this is even to observe or witness, this is a very hopeful project Jimmy and Jane have started out of their own grief, helping countless others who are faced with a sudden or even expected death. As paradox as it sounds, but their project is a celebration of life.

Thank you for reading and thank you for watching the memory and celebration of a beautiful young man by his family.


Remembering Josh (Longer version of “Beyond Goodbye”)


In memory of my big brother, Thomas and my father.





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Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of, and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.


Happy Being Awkward Day!

I love Mr. W!

Ever felt like Mr. W?

Too strong, random, annoying, a nuisance, out of place, appearing too cold, unpredictable, scary and dangerously looking, over-sized and underdeveloped, un-explainable, unconquerable, unable to catch, restrain, label and put in a box…?

Only a good, humane and sometimes broken heart can understand and know how to embrace, include and incorporate personality, talent and variety in whatever shape or form.

I don’t like tolerance. I don’t tolerate people, I embrace them. I only tolerate a bullying boss until I have the strength to find a way to stand up against it in a healthy way (unlike I have done in my trauma, but I’m getting there) or find a new job. I tolerate a noisy neighbour who blasts their music at 3am in the morning until I’ve found a solution how to “co-exist” peacefully. Maybe I’ll even go over and give them some of my music, so I can enjoy it as well in the early hours!

My all-time favourite advertisement, I can’t find a better metaphor:

Mr. W

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – Present unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.