In Memory of Mon Amour

This is a tribute to my wife Muriel who passed away too soon from post-partum depression. It gives a taste of what a wonderfully smart, talented, passionate, and loving person and mother she was to her family, friends and to the world.

Below is the English adaptation of a tribute that was published in Mieux Vivre (“Live Better”), a local French magazine from Muriel’s hometown of Sanary-Sur-Mer. It was the result of a joint effort by Muriel’s friends around the world, her parents, and her husband, to provide a snapshot of the life of Muriel, who was a wonderful person and proud Sanaryian.


Muriel Lauvige was born in Marseille, France in 1978 and was raised in Sanary-sur-Mer, a picturesque village on the French Riviera. She was the descendent of two generations of small business owners in Sanary-sur-Mer. Muriel was a deeply kind person who inherited many admirable traits from her late grandmother, Mrs. Piéri, a nurse in Sanary-sur-Mer with whom she was very close.

Muriel studied French linguistics and teaching at the University of Nice and the University of Aix-Marseille, and later earned her Master’s degree in education and international development at the University of London.

Muriel’s first passion was teaching French as a foreign language. She began her impressive international career as a French and Education Officer with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Fiji, and continued to teach French in the UK and Jamaica. Muriel’s career aspirations shifted to gender equality and lifting people out of poverty through education, after she witnessed the suffering of women and children in her travels.

Muriel moved to Thailand to work with the United Nations on gender issues and eventually became the Education Coordinator for Bangkok’s urban refugee center where she established a formal curriculum as well as created work and education exchange opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers. In Thailand, she met her husband, Vincent, a Canadian, who, like her, had a humanitarian heart.

Together, they moved to Timor-Leste (East Timor) with the United Nations where Muriel was a Gender Adviser for the Ministry of Education, and then to New York and Indonesia where Muriel worked for UNICEF. In 2010, they settled in Geneva, Switzerland with positions at the United Nations. In 2014, their lovely daughter Théa was born.

Between missions, Muriel continued to teach the French language and share her love of France, its culture, and cuisine through her side-project, French My Way. In her spare time, she wrote, illustrated, and independently published a widely lauded French language comic book designed for adult French language beginner students entitled This is NOT a Normal French Book.

Muriel in her wedding dress.
Muriel in her wedding dress.

Muriel’s talents didn’t stop there: as a gifted seamstress, she designed and made her own wedding dress, and then produced a line of silk skirts inspired by her travels in Asia and her love of textiles and fashion.

Her generosity, sense of humor, enthusiastic spirit, and dedication to the well-being of others was exceptional. She had a warm and accepting heart that touched many people in both her personal and professional life, including helping a Congolese family become Canadian citizens. Muriel’s love for languages and the French culture was contagious. She went the extra mile to understand the unique learning styles of her students. She had a zest for life, an engaging personality, and an unwavering loyalty to her friends.

Muriel cherished her hometown of Sanary-sur-Mer, which she called “the most beautiful place in the world.” Muriel sadly passed away on 1 July 2015. The sound of her laughter still lingers in the air. Vincent and Théa will remain loyal ambassadors of Sanary-sur-Mer and of Muriel’s lifework. Her unique journey inspired those who were fortunate to know her, and we hope it will continue to be a source of inspiration for many.

She created a family where ever she went.

Muriel with her local and international friends.
Muriel with her local and international friends.

Whether it was with her own family or with her friends, Muriel created a close-knit tribe that she stayed connected with where ever she went. And as she traveled, she continued to build this tribe to include people from all over the world who she found as sources of inspiration and strength. She loved her tribe and was so happy and in love when our daughter Théa was born and came into the core of her tribe.

Muriel and our daughter Théa.
Muriel and our daughter Théa.

She was creative and artistic.

Muriel wanted to share her creativity and love of French so she created French My Way where she used the business to explore new ways to make learning French fun. This included writing, designing and illustrating This is NOT a normal French book. The concept and idea behind the book was from a 30-day challenge… her thoughts after the challenge:

I loved to see my project grow and become something much more professional, first I thought I was going to write a draft and find a professional designer to make the book, I decided to learn how to draw with a teacher, bought a new computer and also learned Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign. I am proud of the play journey I have started. It has also changed my outlook on the project, it is really not work anymore but play.

She was a true humanitarian.

Muriel lived her life to the fullest and wanted others to be able to do the same, whether it’s helping someone to discover something new or putting people in touch with each other to enhance their own lives. The best example of this was how Muriel befriended a Congolese refugee in Bangkok in 2008 and spent the next several years helping him and his family resettle and become Canadian citizens. Read Quesney’s tribute to Muriel here.

Muriel with the Congolese refugee family she was helping in 2010.
Muriel with the Congolese refugee family she was helping in 2010.

She loved to learn.

Muriel’s love and hunger to learn was renowned among her family and friends, and people who would eventually get to know her. She read with veracity and had diverse tastes in books and magazines. She took every chance she could to discover the world and to learn as much as she could about it. For example, in addition to documenting her year in 2013 through photos, Muriel also spent one month in 2013 documenting her efforts to learn Cantonese (i.e Chinese) so she could have a simple conversation with my grand mother.

Yes! Back on track!

She loved food.

Muriel testing an Indian restaurant in Geneva.
Muriel testing an Indian restaurant in Geneva.

Muriel was passionate about food and everything that would tickle the taste buds. No matter where she was, she loved exploring markets and would bring home unique fruits, vegetables and other local products to taste or to turn into home-cooked meals. She also would find the most interesting, unique and special places to eat where ever she was. For example, she wanted to share this passion and started a blog about all the great places to eat in Geneva. You can see the map we made on her French My Way blog.

She was adventurous.

In addition to living and working in many countries and cultures, Muriel was also a big believer in living life to the fullest and trying new experiences (even if only just once). For example, she was a beach-sand-sun person so she wasn’t really drawn to snow and cold. But when winter came around, she wanted to try skiing. This was Muriel – she was always ready to learn new things and skills and didn’t let any barriers (like age) get in the way. We spent every weekend for two months heading up the mountain and this was the result!

La preuve en image, à part que moi dans…

She loved to dance.

Whether it was African, South American, Asian, modern, jazz, interpretive, Muriel loved to express herself with dance. She danced with style and had a rhythm that showed her free spirit. When we first met in Bangkok, she convinced me to take salsa lessons and wrote about the experience in this article (it’s in French) for the magazine Gavroche.

Muriel welcoming the new year dancing with friends.
Muriel welcoming the new year dancing with friends.

She was my partner and the love of my life.

Taking a bike trip around Vancouver's Stanley Park before getting married.
Taking a bike trip around Vancouver’s Stanley Park before getting married.

This was Muriel. She was amazing.

If you want to share a message, please leave a comment below. / Si vous voulez partager un message, laisser un commentaire ci-dessous s’il vous plaît.

70 thoughts on “In Memory of Mon Amour”

  1. Hi Vincent,
    I look at your blog with very big émotion …
    Philippe ( Oncle Philippe , Maurice friend )

  2. MURIEL est et restera ma plus belle aventure , mon bonheur ,et merci pour les émotions intenses partagées avec toi
    Quel beau parcours , qui est le tien , je suis fière de ce qui a été ta vie
    tu me manques énormément !!!!
    Ta Maman qui t’aime et t ‘aimera pour toujours

  3. Muriel siempre estará en nuestros corazones, esa sonrisa continua no la cambiará nadie. Gracias Vincent, un abrazo muy fuerte para Thea y para ti.

  4. Thank you,Vincent,for your words and feelings,which are taking my personal emotions by the hand. She continues to inspire! Still I hear her laughter and voice. Chère Mu,nous allons avoir une journée signée par les souvenirs de toi!

  5. We – her colleagues and friends from her UNICEF Indonesia times – continue to miss Muriel very much – and also continue to remember her most fondly – with all her beautiful qualities and talents – and wish Vincent, Thea and her parents and other loved ones – the ability and chance to live life to the fullest – as for sure – Muriel would have wanted for them. In her memory, forever.

  6. Merci pour ce très beau témoignage, vivant, joyeux. J’y ai découvert Muriel d’une autre façon. Je ne l’ai connu que dans la période péri-natale. Sa rencontre fut inoubliable et l’accompagnement de cette paradoxale période de sa vie fut une riche leçon pour moi.
    Un grand merci à toi, Vincent.
    je te souhaite plein de bonheur et de nouvelles aventures dans ta nouvelle vie avec Théa

  7. Thank you Vince for sharing today this tribute that is really beautiful and moving. We miss Mumu so much.

  8. how beautiful to keep the many memories alive this way. I wish you two a lot strength on this particular day! bas

  9. Muriel,
    une semaine ne passe pas sans que je pense à toi et que je parle de toi avec ma mère, il y a plusieurs anecdotes, phrases qui sont liées à toi.
    Plusieurs souvenir, comme par exemple toi avec Vincent
    quand j’ai eu un gateaux surprise pour un de mes anniversaire, les après-midi passés ensemble pour ton livre.
    Bref une partie de ma vie est liée à toi, tu continu à être présente dans ma vie presque chaque jour!

    Bon anniversaire Muriel!

    Bien amicalement


  10. Vince, on this special day – this article brought me to tears and reminds me how special Muriel was and how much I miss her and her presence. I am sure she would have loved to visit me in Sri Lanka and would convince me to stay in a luxury villa 🙂

    She will always have a special place in my heart and hopefully one day we can get to tell Thea of her story together.

  11. I met Muriel in 2006 while I was doing my MA studies in London. We were both staying at the John Adams Hall (JAH) and attending classes at IOE. I remember her as someone who had a happy disposition, I warmed up to her very easily because I felt her pure and sincere heart. That year, we celebrated her birthday at a Sri Lankan restaurant with some of our friends from JAH and we had a great time! The rest of those months, I would often see her at our cafeteria and at the university, where she would always flash that radiant smile. I was very sad to know of her passing, hard to accept but I trust that she is in a happier place now. Thank you for your warmth, Muriel! I am very happy to have met you and to have shared fond memories with you, it was short but memorable. Love and light! <3

  12. Querida Muriel; your laughter remais in our hearts. We miss you and your memory is alive within us.
    Querido Vince.. We have no words.. We like to think that Mateo will meet Thea, we hope they will be friends. We will always be close to both of you know you will always be welcomed. lots of love xxxxx

  13. Muriel était une Amie Extraordinaire.

    En 30 ans d’amitié, j’en ai vécu des aventures avec Muriel. Certaines joyeuses, d’autres moins.
    Elle a été la plus belle personne qui m’a été permise de rencontrer.
    Un rayon de soleil !
    Une icône !
    Elle avait le don de croire que rien n’était impossible.
    Merci pour ton Sourire et ta Joie de vivre si communicative,
    Merci pour ton Altruisme,
    Merci pour ta Générosité,
    Merci pour ton Amitié si chère à mon cœur.
    Je garde en mémoire ta philosophie de la vie et ton sourire.
    Tu me manques mon Amie de toujours.


  14. Vincent, thank you for lovingly share these different aspects of Muriel. I recall when she left UNICEF Indonesia that she wanted to learn 12 (?) things in the year following her departure. Forever free-spirited and gifted with a sensational zest for life, she will always be with us.

  15. Muriel nous célébrons ta naissance , ton absence est dure à supporter mais tu vis si fort en nous , ton souvenir est impérissable et comme les étoiles dont la lumière parvient longtemps après qu’elles aient disparues , tu éclaire notre chemin , je t aime

  16. Thank you for capturing this special posting for Muriel. It helps to remind me of how special she is to everyone she’s met. I am glad to have met and became good friends with you both here in Bangkok.

    A happy birthday to Muriel. Her memories will live with us forever.

    Don’t forget to come by and visit your families here in Thailand with Thea 🙂

  17. Thank you for sharing this tribute Vincent,

    I miss you Muriel…You will always be in my heart my beautiful friend…

  18. Thank you, Muriel, for touching our life with your love and laughter. Your kindness and generosity towards others are a constant inspiration. Thinking about you today and sending you our love.

    Vince thank you for sharing these beautiful memories. Sending all our love to you and Thea and family.

  19. A beautiful tribute Vincent and captured so well the beauty and grace and light of Muriel. Much love to you and your family on this and all the other inumerable anniversaries

  20. It was a shock for me to know that Muriel passed away. I am saddened by this news and feel very strongly for you and Thea. Muriel was my lovely teacher in french at Alliance Francaise. It was because of her that I have come to love the french language and culture. I admired her for her dedication in teaching. She was always smiling and genuinely interested in people. I enjoyed every lesson with her. Even after years of not seeing each other, we communicated via facebook and she commented in many major events of my life. The last time we communicated was after her book was launched. I remember thinking that Muriel was an amazing person because she’s doing a lot of things that inspires people. I even joined her contest to get a copy of her french book. She said she would send it within the year. Now I know why I did not hear from her again. My prayers for her soul to be at rest and for you an Thea to be consoled. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts to five tribute to Muriel, one amazing lady. I will remember her forever. If ever you and Thea are in the Philippines, let me know.

  21. Merci Vincent de nous raconter Muriel, elle nous manque.
    J’en ai appris des choses avec Toi, Muriel, et qu’est-ce que j’ai ri! Mangé aussi, et parlé de “manger” et lu sur “manger”…
    Merci pour les bandes-dessinées, les livres, le kayak… Tu savais partager ce que tu aimes comme personne, et savais te connecter aux autres avec tellement de gentillesse et d’indulgence…je suis tellement contente de t’avoir connue.
    Joyeux anniversaire ma belle.

  22. merci de partager ces souvenirs .j ai partagé tant de choses avec mumu: joie, pleures, rires, voyages…tu es et reste dans mon coeur et mes pensées à jamais. tu me manques ma copine de toujours.
    et encore vinc de tout ce que tu fais pour mumu et théa. on vous embrasses très fort.

  23. The loss of Muriel saddens me and I send my sincere condolences to her family, partner and daughter. I met Muriel in London where we shared the same students residence. Though I didn’t know her well, I remember vividly her good mornings, her big smile and beautiful deep eyes. I always thought ‘how happy, pretty and bubbly this girl is- I wish I could speak to her more’ but we were both always busy doing our own things. I can’t believe she’s gone!! She did leave a legacy! She made people around her smile and surely left an impact on a great many. May she rest in peace and happiness. All strengths and patience to her husband and her daughter- who surely has so much of her traits. Much love to happy smiley French Muriel!
    Nadine from John Adam’s Hall, London

  24. I have never met Muriel in person. We have only chatted on Facebook a couple of times about language learning. We wanted to make some French language videos together and i promised to visit her once I managed to come to Geneva. Last December we finally made it to Geneva, but when I wanted to contact her again I was shocked to see her Facebook.
    Now I wished I have had the chance to meet her in person.
    Your words are beautiful. And even though we never met, I wanted to tell you that I feel with you and I am thankful you shared these memories with us, even strangers like me. May her beautiful soul live forever.

  25. Hi Vincent, I am so sorry to hear about Muriel – she sounds like an absolutely incredible person. Thank you for sharing her life with us. My thoughts are with you and Thea.

    (Aunty Winny’s daughter from Australia)

  26. Muriel, the name along tells you some of who she was already. I remember so vividly my first time meeting her – this beautiful woman who only provided substantive comments, no empty talk. Such versatility, languages, fashion, gender equality, food… I remember our long conversations about textiles, and which fabrics will work for skirts. I remember how much I appreciated having a friend who was a true listener. Your presence will remain with us forever.

    Vince, this is such a beautiful tribute that really captured well who Muriel was. Many hugs to you and Thea (look forward to meeting her).

  27. Vince, thank you for sharing this amazing and beautiful memoir of Muriel. Wow, so very special. My heartfelt prayers and thoughts for you and Thea. May you both hold Muriel in your hearts with peace and love.

  28. Thank you Vince for having the courage and kindness to share this tribute with Muriel’s friends and family. I’ll carry her in my heart.

  29. Thinking of you, Vincent, in tears. Sending over a big hug from Suva, where she once also walked the streets x

  30. Merci de partager ces moments exceptionnels avec nous. Je n’ai pas beaucoup connu Muriel mais j’aurai aimé mieux la connaitre. Je me souviens de cette soirée que nous avons passée tous ensemble et du bonheur de vous voir ensemble. On pouvait lire l’amour et le bonheur qui vous habitaient et on était heureux d’être avec vous.

  31. What a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman, your partner, friend and inspiration to so many. Thanks for sharing, and for showing us how to keep, and make new, memories. Sending love to you, Thea, your friends and families.

  32. Bel anniversaire Muriel. Quelle magnifique sourire sur les photos, comme un rayon de soleil qui nous illumine. A la lecture de cet hommage, Théa a toutes les raisons d’être fière de sa maman.
    Vincent, n’oublies pas que tu as comme une famille à Genève qui t’accueille à bras ouverts si tu désires avec Théa y faire escale.

  33. Nous nous sommes connues au collège mais un ami commun que nous apprécions énormément toutes les deux a fait que nous sommes revues plus tard et chaque repas que nous partagions été très enrichissants. Tu nous racontais tes voyages et tu nous faisais rêver temps les émotions étaient fortes et enrichissantes. Un jour tu nous a présenté Vincent et nous l’avons tout de suite adopté même si au début pour lui ce n’était pas facile car nos conversations étaient en français mais avec un professeur à la maison la langue n’était plus un problème. Nous avons tous beaucoup d’anecdotes à raconter mais ce que nous n’oublierons jamais c’est ton sourire, ta joie de vivre, ta gentillesse, ta bonté qui resteront graver dans notre cœur. Nous t’embrassons très fort et pensons très fort à Vincent et Théa.

  34. Muriel, lived her life to the fullest and I do admire her. Pity! her life was cut short in this world. Something even more exciting and rewarding awaits her wherever she is. May god bless her soul. Vince thanks you for the wonderful tribute .

  35. Toutes petites nous étions voisines, je me souviens de toi joueuse et tres timide, des chasses au trésor preparees par ta maman pour tes anniversaires et de ses bons hamburgers maison! Nous avons grandi ensemble puis chacune a suivi son chemin et quelle surprise a chaque fois que j’apprenais que tu vivais au Sri lanka, a New York, en Thaïlande…cette petite fille si timide s’était transformée en une vraie globe trotteuse infatigable! Riches de tes rencontres et de tes voyages je t’ai découverte curieuse, courageuse, épanouie. Étonnante! Repose en paix Muriel, veille sur les tiens et sur Thea qui est une vraie princesse! Vincent, ton hommage est touchant et vivant merci et prends soin de Thea et toi. Je vous souhaite le meilleur. Daniele vous êtes une maman et une grand mère admirable.

  36. Merci Vincent de ce si beau témoignage d’amour. J’ai beaucoup hésité à laisser un message et j’ai décidé de ne rien écrire car mes souvenirs avec Muriel sont tristes et ne correspondent pas à ce qu’elle a vraiment été. Je pense souvent à elle. Plein de lumière, d’amour et de douceur pour toi et la petite Théa.

  37. Dearest Vince,

    Thank you for sharing Muriel’s wonderful life! We are honored to have known her for a short time here in Timor and I remember her smile from our coffee breaks at PX and lunches at the Tropical restaurant.

    I love you my friend for being a wonderful person yourself, who has had the chance to share it with another amazing person, and I hope to meet Thea someday.

  38. Vincent,

    I heard your interview on radio and it compelled me to visit your blog. Although I do not know you personally, your words have touched my heart. Her memory will live on in the hearts of you, Théa and your family & friends. She will never be forgotten.

    Thank you for sharing your memories of Muriel with the world.

    Best wishes to you and Théa and may you continue Muriel’s legacy through your actions.

  39. Vincent the sadness I feel for you and your daughter is endless. Your wife, what a beautiful soul, though gone is still touching people’s hearts through you. I also went into the hospital as your wife did, my story is very similar. I was shunned by my friends, my family, and my husband abadonded the children and I. You see in small wealthy towns in Texas mental health illnesses are a choice not something that chooses you. Instead of being bitter I have dedicated my life to helping other women suffering from PPD. I recognized that my husband and the other individuals involved didn’t have the information needed to support my decisions. I am completely humbled knowing that there are loving husbands and families that do care and are willing to speak up. I admire the love you have for your wife and the understanding you gave her for the devastating silent blackhole known as PPD. Thank you from all the woman that didn’t get the support they needed. You touched my heart this morning greatly.

  40. Oh Vincent,

    You are so brave. You are clearly such an extraordinary man and husband and father, and Muriel was so obviously a dear, talented, intelligent and beautiful person in all regards as well.

    My heart goes out to you in your tragedy. You are so not alone, and I hope that you never feel (even for a second) like you are.

    I love your tribute to your beautiful Muriel, and I am so sad and sorry for all you have been through and for the lack of resources.

    I work with pregnancy and postpartum mothers/families and do my best to share resources (what there is / thank goodness for the Pacific Post Partum Society), but we definitely need more.
    Much more!

    So much more. Thank you for your bravery and honesty, and sending you and your sweet daughter heaps of strength and admiration. I truly hope that you have a stong support system of your own. Sending peace.

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