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In Memorium: Bob Sikkema

Mical Sikkema

"In de stilte die ik werkelijkheid ben, wordt alles geaccepteerd"
"In the silence that I truly am, everything becomes accepted"
                                                                     Bob Sikkema

Now is a time to grieve. The Focusing world and indeed the world at large, has lost an extraordinary member of its community. And I have lost my beloved husband and Focusing partner, Bob. At 18:00 on 22 September 2002, after his meditation soundbowl was struck three times, the ventilator which held Bob in this world was stilled. And, surrounded by a small kring of loved ones, he died. It was only four weeks earlier that he had entered the hospital after suddenly being taken ill, and just three weeks since he had been moved to Intensive Care and held with medication in sleep. Bob was 56 years old.

Bob was a Client-Centered psychotherapist and clinical supervisor at the Institute for Mental Health (Mediant) in Hengelo, The Netherlands and a certified Trainer and Coordinator for the Focusing Institute. He and I also travelled regularly to the USA to co-lead Focusing workshops at Seattle University.

We met at an International in Hohenwart, Germany and thus our relationship was very much rooted in Focusing. Focusing formed the basis of the workshops we developed and co-led together. But, more fundamentally, our valuing of the Focusing attitude gave us a fine, deep foundation on which to build our new life together in this country. And additionally, Bob's 22 years of zazen practice and his deep, abiding faith in the power of a person's life-affirming energy to reach in the direction of healing and growth formed the unshakable ground under his feet.

The intensity and purity of Bob's presence and attention was of a quality so unusual that it always stirred people deeply. I share here a few of the words that were spoken at the funeral service, by the friends and colleagues whom I had asked to speak.

Bob was an optimistic man. He had a steadfast conviction that good comes as people receive what they need. His faith in the power of the individuality of each person was as firm as a rock.

And as I now reread these words, I think over how much more there is that I would want to say about Bob that remains unsaid. That cannot be said. In the end, there are no words...or not enough words...to really describe someone in a "good enough" way. And especially in the case of Bob. On the other hand, I think that one short sentence, from the cards that we sent out to announce his death, comes close: Bob Sikkema: a man with endless love.


With great care, with much patience and love and persistence, he gave people back to themselves. I shall hear his words for a long time yet: "Stay calm now, just give them the space...it will come. He did not care much for advise or quick solutions. What is good needs time. So was he in his work, so was he in the rest of his life.

. . . Klaas van Dijk

The ground was solid under his feet and you never had to doubt about his trustworthiness. I think of Bob in superlatives. The only disadvantage from contact with him was that other friendships paled in contrast. Paled in contrast to the depth and intensity of what in relation with him arose

. . . Hans van Doorn

He had all the attention and interest for his friends, absolutely not placing himself in the foreground. Was modest, yet never let himself be walked on not pushed into a corner, knew quite well what he wanted and knew very well what he didn't want. You could not go around Bob. Yet he gave everyone space, let everyone be in his or her worth.

. . . Harry Dijks

Wednesday 27 November 2002

The time goes on without request. The night descends
and brings no rest.
This world without shadows is all shadow.
The candles' brave attempts to ease the darkness
doomed to fail.
My heart beats and I cannot imagine why.
My lungs breathe and bring me face-to-face
with the lungs that wouldn't
                            keep on breathing.
Yours, I mean.
All roads lead to Rome.
All of the paths of my thoughts and reflections
lead back to you.

What joy in your face
so willing to be seen
as I snapped the photo.
Capturing your spirit, the openness of you,
like a moth in a glass,

in the frame of the film.
But you were a willing captive,
and I live in gratitude for that smile,
now looking back at me without shyness
or doubt.

How can one go on living
with such a gaping hole torn open
in the center of one's being?
All the other organs intact
just like yours were...
but the guts torn apart with grief.

I am left sitting here
in your red chair
with a belly full of questions
that all have one answer:
                            Don't know
                            Don't know
                            Don't know.

Mical Sikkema

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