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Mark Rutte on mother’s death during the corona crisis: “I had to continue”

Mark Rutte’s mother died at a nursing home in mid-May in the midst of the corona crisis. Mieke Rutte-Dilling turned 96. She had no corona, according to a test. The virus went around the home where she lived.

Feeling of gratitude

Shortly after her death, Rutte had stated in a statement from the Government Information Service (RVD) that he was particularly grateful. “In addition to the great grief and all the cherished memories, my family and I also have a sense of gratitude that we have had her with us for so long.”

In a conversation with Jeroen Pauw and Fidan Ekiz, Mark Rutte told us last night that he had not allowed to visit his mother for a long time. “The last time I visited her was the week before my TV speech,” the prime minister explains. During that speech, he announced the first measures. “It remains to find the balance between taking the necessary action and allowing ordinary life to continue as much as possible,” the prime minister said at the time.

Dear “portable sisters”

He experienced these measures primarily in contact with his mother. “We were able to make video calls with her very sweet ‘portable sisters’. In the beginning we could also stand in front of the window and then talk to each other over the phone.”

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That was nice, Rutte says, but of course it is “completely different” than he liked to do: visit her on weekends with an Indian meal. Rutte had to be with her mother the night before her death. Such was the protocol of the nursing home: a family member could stay with a resident if death was imminent. “My sister was there the day before.”

Keep secret

“And in the meantime, you saved the country,” says Jeroen Pauw. “That combination was really very special,” Rutte admits. After her death, Rutte immediately informed a number of direct colleagues: Hugo de Jonge, Ferd Grapperhaus and some officials he works with every day. He also wanted it kept secret until after the funeral. “I didn’t want photographers to lie in the bushes at her funeral,” the prime minister explains.

How did Rutte manage to continue? He must, he says. “It’s my job. I couldn’t suddenly go off the rails. During that month we were still in the midst of the crisis, there were still many people in intensive care. But what happened in my private life, it was complicated for me.”

Talk a lot about it

Rutte talks a lot to his family members about his mother’s death. In this way he manages to continue throughout the day. But really process it? “I have to think about this again this summer,” he says. “Of course she was old, but still in good shape. She was a proud mother, but also very critical. And she really wasn’t in front of me.”

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