16 November 2023 - Moment of Comfort & Inauguration Before I Die Wall

On November 16, 2023, the annual Moment of Comfort was held, commemorating the members of the VUB community who had passed away in the past year. The Moment of Comfort served as the concluding event of the Compassionate Week. In memory of the deceased, cards were hung on the wishing tree. After the ceremony, everyone had the opportunity to place a rose at the Monument of Comfort, followed by a reception for further discussion.

During the Moment of Comfort, the Before I Die Wall on campus was also initiated. The very first Before I Die Wall was created on an abandoned building in New Orleans by artist Candy Chang after the death of someone she loved (see also the Before I Die Project). Meanwhile, it has been replicated in many cities, from New York to Budapest to Bangkok. Now also in Brussels, at our VUB.

Moment van troost
Compassionate week

13-16 November 2023 - Compassionate Week

From November 13-16, the Compassionate Week was organized to foster openness and understanding surrounding topics such as death, grief, loss, and serious illness. This week featured a diverse array of activities designed to engage students and staff, such as a compassionate walk, enlightening seminars led by grief experts, an evening dedicated to 'comfort literature,' and a welcoming compassionate cafΓ©.

Discover the full program of the Compassionate Week

17 November 2022 - Moment of Comfort

On 17 November 2022, as usual every year, several VUB staff and other parties gathered around the Monument of Comfort. Together, they commemorated those from the VUB community who died in the past year. Sarah Dury, coordinator of the Compassionate Universities Expertise Centre (COCO), explained the principle of the consolation tree, which will also be part of the Moment of Comfort in the coming years: during the reading of the names of the deceased, a card with their name is hung on the tree, between the cards with the names of the deceased from previous years. After the ceremony, which was graced by the serene songs of the group STI.LL, several people headed for the Convivium at the VUB for a drink and a talk. 

Moment of compassion 2022

15 November 2021 - Moment of Comfort

On 15 November 2021, the third commemorative event was held at the quiet place at the Monument of Comfort. An understated event where the speech of student Montana Tachelet was particularly impressive. In her talk, she addressed the suicide of her brother Ingo, almost exactly one year ago, who was a student at VUB, as she is. Montana was not the only one to lose someone. The names of people who were no longer living appeared on a screen. At the end, everyone could lay a rose at the Monument of Comfort. 

28 September 2021 - The Empty Chair

During the academic opening session, in addition to a great deal of festive entertainment, there was also a moment to remember those who could no longer be there. This was symbolically represented by an empty chair on the stage. The chair is there because VUB has become a member of PEN, an organisation that stands up for persecuted and imprisoned writers and academics: from Ahmadreza Djalali to the now released Ahmet Altan, from whose book a short excerpt was read. The chair was also a symbol of all members of the VUB community who died in the past year. During an impressive minute's silence, their names appeared on the big screen. 

wenskaarten VUB 2020

22 December 2020 - β€˜I thought I'd send a card’

The year 2020 was a difficult one for both staff and students. And it is precisely in times when we can no longer meet physically that it is all the more important to stay connected. At the end of December, all staff and students received a number of cards at home. These cards can be used as a virtual pat on the back, to make contact with people we cannot see right now and to feel connected as a VUB community. 


27 October 2020 - Adjustment of the company expense regulations for gifts to people with long-term illness.

The new version of the company expense regulations now provides a budget for a small gift for colleagues with long-term illness.



May 2020 - Extra day of mourning during lockdown

During the first lockdown, saying goodbye to a deceased person was sometimes impossible due to the strict measures in place. Therefore, VUB offered every staff member and grantee an opportunity to spend an extra day to mourn every loved one who died between mid-March and the end of September 2020.

19 November 2020 - #IkLeefMee #IAmWithYou

On 19 November, VUB commemorates its deceased with a ceremony at the 'Moment of Consolation'. Because in 2020 physical gatherings were not possible due to the COVID19 measures, the university called for messages of support to be written, posted, and shared on social media.


Onthulling monument van Troost

19 November 2019 - Declaration of Intent and Inauguration Monument of Comfort

On 19 November 2019, Rector Caroline Pauwels and President Eddy Van Gelder signed a declaration of intent to make VUB a 'Compassionate University' by 2021. The signing of the declaration of intent was followed by the unveiling of a quiet place for individual or collective mourning at the Monument of Comfort.

Declaration of Intent Compassionate University

24 June 2019 - Preparation of death scenario

When we are confronted with a death in our VUB community, we provide guidance and care to the survivors - both staff and students. A death involves many emotions, while at the same time, those left behind must deal with many administrative matters. We drew up a scenario stating who would take what actions. 

Vrouwen en mannen in vergadering met laptop en tablet met documenten

18 February 2019 - Stakeholder meeting Compassionate University

How do we make VUB a compassionate university? That was the question that some 40 stakeholders from across the university community sought to answer during a big brainstorming session. Many operational and policy suggestions came out of that thought exercise.

December 2017 - VUB to become a 'warm university'

In December 2017, based on the policy statement of Rector Caroline Pauwels, the General Strategic Plan 2030 was approved by the Board of Directors. One of the major β€˜construction sites' in this plan was the plan to make VUB a 'warm' university. This means that we will take initiatives to increase the well-being of our staff and students. In this way, we want to make VUB a comfortable and inspiring place to work and study for everyone.