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Ulli Fischer: 'Questions of life touch the core of your existence'

If your child gets cancer, your heart sinks. "Why is this happening to my child? What's the point of all this?" Such questions can be painful, and answers are not for the taking. Still, it often helps to have a quiet talk with someone about this. That is what Ulli Fischer, consultant on questions of life, is there for at the Princess Máxima Center.
Anyone who experiences something very profound is touched in the depths of their being. Maybe a parent had never wondered before who they are or what the meaning of life is. But with a shocking life event, such as your child getting cancer, these questions come up automatically. Ulli Fischer says, "Questions of life touch the core of your existence and who you are. As a consultant on questions of life, I don't have any ready-made answers, but I can help you find a way in. Parents can quietly reflect with me on the overwhelming experiences around their sick child and discuss where they can find the strength to deal with them."

A safe place
Many people are resilient and manage well with their network. Ulli says, "Parents don't necessarily need a philosophical professional. But if they want extra support, they can come to me. I usually start with an informal talk to get to know each other. Then it will automatically become clear whether more appointments are desirable." Children, including older ones, can also go to Ulli and – as she emphasizes – relatives are just as welcome. For example, grandparents or siblings. "All talks are confidential. I do not compile a file and only share information with the explicit consent of those involved. I want to offer people a safe place where they can say anything, where they can totally be themselves."

Counselling in case of existential distress
Ulli's job is part of Developmental Care and the Children's Comfort Team. She also collaborates with the Psycho-oncology department. "Parents already receive a lot of help and support from the pedagogical staff, psychologists and social workers, who are also experienced in dealing with people in existential distress. As a consultant on questions of life, I can follow up on that." The classic term for her job is "mental care professional." Every hospital has such a professional. Sometimes it is called "chaplain," sometimes "pastoral work." In any case, they are always specialized professionals who assist people in an existential crisis. Ulli will further develop the position at the Princess Máxima Center. "I'm going to pioneer this office to give it a vantage position in the guidance of child and family."

Available to everyone
"A profound life event opens your heart, can be extremely painful, but also allows love to flow," Ulli says. "Ever since I was a kid, I've asked myself questions about life: who am I and what am I doing here on Earth? Buddhism has given me keys to find peace within myself and to make contact from there. But being in contact with each other based on love is something typical of all philosophical traditions and religions. It's about the connection. I'm available to everyone, and certainly also to people without faith or a philosophy of life."

More information
Ulli can be reached via u.h.e.fischer@prinsesmaximacentrum.nl or on (06) 5000 6686. She works on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. All parents, children and next of kin can come to her. Ulli will contribute to the spiritual domain within the Princess Máxima Center, for example by offering healthcare professionals training on questions of life.