We are afraid to talk about death, and yet many of us think about it often. Very often. Our society is making enormous efforts to prolong our lives beyond their natural duration. Our capacity to handle and face death is not addressed openly enough.

The end is also the beginning.

No matter what we do or what we tell each other to try to avoid the subject, it will catch up with us. Instead of tormenting ourselves by avoiding the discussion of death, we are better off confronting it head on – in whatever way suits us – so we can find peace.

In March 2011, a few days after his 23rd birthday and a few weeks before graduating from Singapore Management University with a bachelor degree, Yves left us. His passing forced us to face death. We had to look at the finality of our own lives and deal with the unbearable pain of losing a son, stepson, grandson, godson, uncle, friend and an altogether beautiful human being.

Once the first wave of pain and grief recedes, many of us begin looking for help. We turn to priests, rabbis, spiritualists and psychologists. We read books and talk to those who also lost loved ones in hopes of answering one question: Why?

After many nights and days of tears, the futile question remains unanswered as the painful realization of the finality of the loss sets in.

To help her move through her pain and helplessness and to keep Yves' memory alive, Yves’ mother, Monique, had the idea to start a closed circle consisting of Yves’ friends. She called it “TOY: Thinking of Yves."

In March 2012, the first "Remembering Yves" event took place in Zurich. In the first half of the evening, Yves' friends celebrated his life by sharing poems, songs, speeches and presentations created in his memory. In the second half, Anton Musgrave from FutureWorld helped us explore the vision of a new future that included Yves. Our grief was tempered by the hope that Yves will be with us as we continue our journeys.

In the summer of 2012, Yves' friends launched “TOY-circle” – an online community open only to approved members. Based on the TallyFox collaboration software, it gave the TOY community a much-needed communication tool.

In March 2013, Yves’ friends met in Munich for the first TOY event. Monique started the evening by explaining the newly created TOY logo and brand ID. She also announced the launch of the “Doing Something That Matters While Wearing the TOY Caps” project. The purpose of the TOY cap project is to motivate the TOY members to contribute to society while remembering Yves. Susan Cain, the keynote speaker, delivered her presentation, “We Listen to the Loud While the Quiet Have the Answers.”

In March 2014, the second TOY event took place in Madrid. Monique opened it by talking about the evolution of the TOY circle. Remembering her son, she also shared examples of TOY members “doing something that matters while wearing the TOY cap”. The TOY song “Sunlight Will Shine” by Jen Dale and Julie Thut was presented for the first time, and Lisa Moretti delivered a keynote address on How to Manage Your Personal Brand in the Area of Social Media.

So what have we learned so far and where has this effort to remember Yves taken us?

Thanks to TOY, we – parents, family and friends of Yves – have found a way to remember Yves by taking him along with us. Nobody is afraid to bring up his name. When we meet, we speak of him as if he were still here. We are no longer burdened by the pain and grief his passing has caused. Instead, we experience delight, remembering his joyful and friendly personality. He exists in our thoughts as if his death had never happened. Yves was a very talented connector, and his power to connect people is felt throughout the TOY community today. We come together because of him, and we feel his presence in our togetherness.

TOY members are becoming the go-to people when someone loses a friend, brother, sister or family member. By sharing their experience of remembering Yves, the TOY community help the grieving find their own way out of their deep sorrow. Through helping others, TOY is being transformed from “Thinking of Yves” to “Thinking of You."

Lately, people have been asking how the TOY example could be used to help those who lost a loved one to remember the departed.

Our hope is that the TOY community can contribute to the discussion of death and the ways to honor and enlarge the lives of people who have passed. We invite anyone seeking comfort to connect around “Thinking of You” to help them remember all those who have moved on.

Life is about the people you meet, the people you lost and what you create in their memory.


Max and Monique Burger wrote this manifesto in memory of their son, Yves P. Biggoer-Burger (1988-2011). With the TOY 'Thinking Of You' cap project, they encourage friends to dedicate one day each year to do things that matter in Yves' name.

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