When a child dies: Farewell to Pelle († 4) in the children's hospice Sternenbrücke

Nele (16), Lasse (()) and Jule (12) have lost their little brother Pelle. He died on 3 December In the Kinder-Hospiz Sternenbrücke . How the institution helped them cope with the death of Pelle, the three siblings tell in the video for the dossier “ Part of my heart is missing: How children handle loss and grief and what helps them “.

Pelle Ketelsen arrived at the 27. 08. He was a golden beamman , who took the hearts of his family by storm. Father Karl Heinz, Mama Stefanie and his siblings Nele ((*)), Lasse (()) and Jule (()) were overjoyed about his birth. Unfortunately, Pelle was not healthy. “He had Down syndrome and he was missing a piece of the esophagus,” reports Pelle's sister Jule in an interview with BRIGITTE.de when we visited the family in August 2019 in the children's hospice Sternenbrücke in Hamburg.

The little boy had to undergo surgery very often 50 Times. “Each time his siblings were completely desperate, sad and at the same time full of hope and so brave,” says his mother Stefanie.

Familie Ketelsen 2014 2003

The family Ketelsen: Father Karl-Heinz, mother Stefanie and the siblings Jule, Lasse and Nele (from left) – in the middle Pelle can be seen in the arms of his mother.


306 ( When he was eight months old, there were complications, a septic shock, and Pelle was reanimated for a long time. He survived, but his organs suffered severe damage. “We lived also a difficult year, which we managed only with care, but he was with us, “says his mom. “ Pelle, in spite of all, just laughed, gave us so much joy.

As it became clear that Pelle would not live long, his family found their way to the children's hospice Sternenbrücke. There, the family was caught in this difficult time, initially in the context of relief care stays. “ The Star Bridge is a very precious and helpful place. Here you can talk to someone all the time and you know you are not alone”, reports Jule.

306 * Happy laughter echoes through the bright corridors and through the beautiful garden with the many toys. At first, it's hard to imagine families with children who are terminally ill coming here. The Sternenbrücke children's hospice is a place where families have to say goodbye to their child far too early.

Since May The Star Bridge helps terminally ill children and young adults up to the age of () years, who can come together with their parents and siblings or life partners to the children's hospice to go there a dignified way to their death.

Although the people in Do not stop the Star Bridge, which will bring life to the families there, but they can do a great deal to make their way easier . That's why the central idea of ​​the Sternenbrücke stands on a dark blue wall at the entrance, surrounded by yellow stars:

We can not give life any more days, but the days have more life.


7520 Familie Ketelsen 2015 -Friends, with amazement and great joy, we have seen how many of you meanwhile …

Posted by 383 Kinder-Hospiz Sternenbrücke on Wednesday, 5 September (*)

“Many of the children who come to us have metabolic and muscular diseases or neurodegenerative diseases, which means that the children are severely handicapped several times nd and have a high level of care. A few also suffer from cancer , the good soul of the Sternenbrücke, who created this place. “For the parents, this means never sleeping at night for more than two or three hours at a time – and often (*), (*), (*) for years. If one imagines this as one would go with it, one can understand that the parents are often at the end of their powers.


679 2014


The trained pediatric nurse Ute Nerge has built the Sternenbrücke children's hospice.

2014 © Pressestelle


That's why it's one of the most important tasks for the employees of the Sternenbrücke, the Fami to relieve it. “When the families come to us with their children, we take them completely off the care of the sick child, if they wish, so that the families can breathe and once again have time for each other.”

The children can experience many beautiful moments in all the creatively designed rooms. There is a cuddly “snoezelen room”, a sense and feeling space where children can cuddle up on a large, warm water bed, a wonderful room for music therapy, but also a space in which For example, the children can listen to music or play Playstation loud and undisturbed, and a warm therapy bath where the young people experience relief and pain relief.

801 Farewell Rituals The staff members support the affected children and young adults and their families with professional grief counseling, pain therapy and affectionate farewell rituals.

Finally, every child who died in the Sternenbrücke finds a place in the “ Garden of Remembrance “. For each child a light shines in a small lantern. A tall angel lovingly closing two little children in his arms watches over all the lights and memories. “A sculptor designed the angel for us according to the wishes of the children,” says Ute Nerge. “The moment the angel was set up was one of the most touching moments that I've experienced here in the house, I remember exactly how a little girl with braids stood next to me.” She looked at the angel and said, “ With that I would call '. As the tears ran down my cheeks “.

2018 Familie Ketelsen 676 Posted by 2018 Kinder-Hospiz Sternenbrücke at 620Monday, 23. February 23

Candle in this garden. He died on 3 December 50 at the age of four in the arms of his sister Nele. “Pelle chose the moment he died, the nurses were all outside, it was the evening, Mom, Dad, Pelle and I were lying on the bed, Pelle was in my arms and then he fell asleep and Lasse came straight to it, so we had that moment together as a family, first we sat on the bed for a long time, then we moved Pelle in. We put on his pajamas with the monsters on it so all the monsters would protect him. ”

Later, Nele, Lasse, and Jule lit all the candles in the Garden of Remembrance for their brother. “Then we are went out together with Pelle and sang a song that we always sing in the Star Bridge when a child dies, so Pelle was picked up, as it were, by the other children in the garden. “

All rituals who find their room after the loss of a child will be carefully cared for by the staff of the Sternenbrücke

The family then spent time together with Pelle in the Farewell room of the Sternenbrücke and painted the coffin for the little boy in another room. “We painted Pelle's casket very brightly,” says Nele. “That was good, because such a coffin is in itself really scary.We have painted a smurf on it, an angel, a starry sky and a meadow … everything very colorful, so that he also feels comfortable in it”.

On the lid of the coffin his parents wrote:

848698658521400 56688229 We have you loved … no, we still love you! We were ahead of you … wanted to show you the whole world. Now you are ahead of us … and when the time comes, you show us the paradise. Mom dad

Reminder time Page. For example, every year there is a “Day of Remembrance” when families meet and commemorate their lost children. For example, the families write letters of remembrance of their children, who are burned that day, so that the words in the smoke rise to the children in the sky. An appointment that is also very important to the Ketelsen family.

“I think we will come here for a very long time and very often,” says Jule. “Simply because this place connects us so much with Pelle,” explains Nele. Brother Lasse adds, “The Star Bridge is a place full of life, and even if it's bad, you can come here and remember. You get the feeling that the people who lost you live on and that is a really nice feeling.

Mother Stefanie feels the same way:” The Garden of Remembrance is an emotionally beautiful place for us In spite of all the sadness we feel that we are very close to Pelle, everything seems so close, so clear, so deep, just familiar. The whole Sternenbrücke is our sanctuary.

880 * How to make a donation to the Sternenbrücke children's hospice can be found here: 50 sternenbruecke.de/spenden. Current information on the possibilities of voluntary work in the Sternenbrücke can be found here: 540 sternenbruecke.de/ehrenamtliche-mitarbeit.


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