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. Just by reading this – i can feel the huge void that the world now has after losing her. I would have loved to have known her.

  2. So sorry for your loss, Vincent. We who’ve survived postpartum depression and related disorders will never stop fighting for awareness and better treatment options, in the name of Muriel and all the other women lost to this illness. Wishing you comfort and peace.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss Vincent. What an amazing person and her impact on this world will continue. I echo Mariah Warrens comments about postpartum mental illness and will continue to educate as many as I can in Muriel’s honor.

  4. My deepest condolences to you and your family. Thank you so much for sharing her story. Her love of life and passion just leaps off the pages here through your words, photos of her and videos. I am a survivor of extreme postpartum depression myself. I’m now an advocate for PPD survivors and give talks to medical experts, and one of the main things I always say to new parents is get as much support as you can, spend the money on therapy, house cleaners, child care, whatever it takes. It’s an investment in your family. Words can’t begin to describe how sad I am for your loss. Thank you for your courage and strength to share her story, and yours. Her story will save many lives, I just know it.

  5. Je revis avec toi MURIEL tes derniers jours
    Il y a déjà 1 an bientot
    Tu vis en moi depuis ta conception et maintenant depuis ta disparition
    Ta curiosité de la vie me manque , je pense que tu me manques simplement , rien ne sera plus pareille
    Il y a eu un avant Muriel et un après très triste sans toi
    Ta présence éclaire et guide nos jours
    Maman qui t’aime

  6. A l’image de sa création, Dieu n’est pas parfait. Sans doute est-il sourd ou aveugle, voire carrément sénile pour oser nous infliger parfois des traitements que nul n’aurait mérité.
    Nous nous appuierons dès lors sur la certitude de son imperfection pour nous obliger à faire ce qui doit être fait et que nous seuls pouvons faire : avancer, lutter et œuvrer pour que le monde devienne moins laid, qu’il reste désirable et suscite des vocations fécondes à nos générations futures. Que les hommes et les femmes continuent de s’aimer passionnément, qu’ils aient des projets de vie commune et que l’écho des cris de leurs enfants résonne encore longtemps pour égayer leurs lendemains. C’est ainsi et seulement ainsi, que nous étonnerons Dieu et que nous tolèrerons du coup sa coupable indifférence, suffisante et cruelle ; celle-là même qui nous fait douter de lui, lorsque sidérés, malheureux et démunis, nous découvrons tout à coup l’étendue du désastre qui nous afflige et duquel nous savons que nous aurons tant de mal à nous extraire.
    Merci à Muriel d’avoir contribué à ce que le monde fût meilleur. Merci à Théa d’être là.

  7. Muriel , deux nouvelles années ou tu n’est plus présente physiquement , mais tellement là avec nous dans nos coeurs , c’est la seule façon de te faire vivre en pensant très fort à toi
    Maman qui t’aime

  8. Muriel , je continue à t’écrire
    Je t’avais offert un beau pot d ‘azalée pour ton dernier anniversaire

    il est aujourd’hui en fleurs pour toi , je t’aime , tu me manques


  9. Dear vincent,
    It.s been a long time.
    How are you and thea?
    The words to express the sadness about your loss are not there. So i just drop here any words.
    As i see my little malena fill our house wih joy each day, i wish deeply that thea’s laughter strengthens your soul.
    Warm regards from austria.
    Geraldine ( + elmar+ malena+ ??? In belly)

  10. Wszystkiego dobrego z Polski. Warto wspominać Muriel i Jej znakomite dzieło – była blisko ludzi i teraz ludzie są z Nią. Staraj się czerpać siły do życia za pomocą modlitwy, podróży, książki, pracy, opieki nad dzieckiem, cokolwiek co przyniesie siłę.

    All good from Poland. It is worth mentioning Muriel and her excellent work – she was close to people and now people are with her. Try to draw strength into your life through prayer, travel, books, work, childcare, anything that will bring strength.

    Todo bien desde Polonia. Vale la pena mencionar a Muriel y su excelente trabajo: estaba cerca de las personas y ahora la gente está con ella. Trate de incorporar fuerza a su vida a través de la oración, los viajes, los libros, el trabajo, el cuidado de los niños, cualquier cosa que le dé fortaleza.

    Tutto bene dalla Polonia. Vale la pena ricordare Muriel e il suo ottimo lavoro: era vicina alla gente e ora la gente è con lei. Cercate di incorporare forza nella tua vita attraverso la preghiera, i viaggi, i libri, il lavoro, la cura dei bambini, tutto ciò che ti dà forza.

  11. Vincent, thank you so much for sharing this with me. I am sad beyond words for the loss for you and Thea, your precious daughter who will mainly know her wonderful mom from stories and photos shared. I can’t imagine the pain and feelings of loss you must feel at times. Since meeting Muriel I have had two of my own daughters and I can understand in some way what she may have been going through. Unfortunately in our society these things aren’t spoken of much so perhaps Muriel felt very alone, like many mothers. This coupled with all the hormonal changes does not make it easy for women entering into motherhood. I am sorry she felt so alone, my heart breaks for her. I am truly saddened by this loss not only for your family but for the world. Muriel was such a wonderful person, thank you for sharing all you have with us about that. Today, I mourn the loss of such a beautiful soul-inside and out.

    I had the pleasure of sharing time with Muriel on Table Mountain when she visited Cape Town in 2013. I remember her telling us of the book she was writing (or had written). She was very excited and proud of herself. It was an exciting time. I always meant to get a copy to help myself learn a bit of French. I remember parts of the hike we did together was a beautiful partly cloudy/cool day and we visited Tranquility Cracks. This is a very special place on Table Mountain…I believe it to be a sacred place for the indigenous tribes that were here. I remember hiking down a route called Kasteelspoort and that is where she shared with us the part of her life that included gender equality and the United Nations, also the French Book she was writing. I would love it if you and Thea were able to one day come to these places with me to see where we shared these moments. I know Muriel really enjoyed our time together in nature, and it would be my pleasure to share them with you too as a special tribute to a very special human, mom, wife, friend. I’m always here for both of you. Please don’t be shy to ever reach out. And thank you again for making contact with me. I am forever grateful to you and Muriel. All the best for creating a healthy life, weaving the web of a life you want to live and sharing love from your heart as you always have.

  12. AVRIL 2019 encore une année sans toi ;mais qui me rapproche de toi
    Ton azalée fleuri de nouveau , et me donne un peu de bonheur pour dire que la vie continue et je voie Théa s’épanouir aussi ,elle nous apporte à tous la joie
    Ta maman qui t’aimera toujours

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