11th year commemoration of 22-7 terrorist attacks (2022)

22-07-2022 06:20 am

How do you remember 22nd July dual terrorist attacks? Most people in Norway are on holiday during the summer month of July. Commemorating the worst day in Norwegian history since WWII is most often memoralised by a photo frame and hearts on Metas Facebook.

11 years on since 22nd July 2011, today is no easier or harder than it was last year when we commemorated the 10 year anniversary. Every year is equally as difficult as the last. As my mum says every year: We have just gotten better at hiding how terribly devastated we actually feel.

22nd July monument at Government District in Oslo (22-07-2022) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Sisters remembering our sister (22-07-2022) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Photo moment with the Secretary-General of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg (22-07-2022) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Bear hug with the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt and my little sister Sydney(22-07-2022) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Proud moment to be standing with Norway's Education minister Tonje Brenna and Minster of Trade, Industry and Fisheries Jan Christian Vestre who had been on Utøya 22nd July (22-07-2022) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Sydney and I with Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (22-07-2022) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Inside Oslo Cathedral (22-07-2022) Photo credit: O. R Bøhn

Sharidyns rose outside of Oslo Cathedral (22-07-2022) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

10th year commemoration of 22-7 terrorist attacks (2021)

22-07-2021 6:30 am

10 years seems like a long time, and it is. 3.650 days have passed since my parent's daughter and our big sister was so brutally taken from us. I have been asked a number of times over the past few days how do you feel? I want to say my heart hurts and I want to scream, but I just smile and pretend that it's just another anniversary.

I look at my parents and I feel pain for them. They keep trying to do different things for my little sister and I - to keep us busy but probably more so for themselves, and especially for mum. Our mum is our rock, but you don't need to be a rocket scientist to see her pain.

Every year since we moved back to Norway, we have always started our commemoration of the anniversary since Sharidyn was taken from us, at her grave. Because the 10 year commemorations are a merge of different events, we decided to visit Sharidyn yesterday while we were at home in Drammen. As our parents have done every year, they brought new roses to place in the flower-pots on either side of her stone. Because of the heatwave in Drammen this summer, her flowers have withered faster than they normally do. Flowers they had placed at her grave on her birthday 5 days ago had already dried out. So, they go back to the shop, and buy more flowers - taking time to meticulously pick out flowers that are just right for Sharidyn.

Once mum has placed Sharidyn's newly brought roses in their respective flower-pots, dad walks around her stone cleaning off the bird-poop with water and watering all of her roses. Mum re-arranges all of her stones, and cleans all of Sharidyns angel-ornaments that have aged over time. My little sister and I tried to help but after 10 years we know how important it is for our parents that they can tidy and clean her grave. Sharidyn's grave is all we have left of her besides our memories, mum said last night.

This is where Sharidyn lies, not at the July 22nd monuments or on an island. Here at her grave! This is the brutal reality of July 22nd. Today people all over Norway and around the world will be remembering Sharidyn and the 76 victims of the terrorist attacks, but 77 families will be feeling the intense pain of this day - just like my parents. No parent should ever have to bury a child. But to bury a child killed by a terrorist - there are no words that could possibly describe that pain.

I will never understand what it is like for my parents! All we can do is stay close to our parents and hug them as much as they and we need.

We miss you Always and forever Sharidyn

Remembering Sharidyn (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Heartbroken - Our parents (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Sharidyn's beautiful grave (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Always and forever (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Roses for Sharidyn (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Flowers laid at Sharidyns grave (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Flowers from Australian/Norwegian family living in Drammen and Sydney Australia (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Single beautiful red rose left at Sharidyn's grave (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Official commemorations in the Government District and in Oslo Cathedral

22-07-2021 16:15 pm

Remembering Sharidyn today and all the days in between.

It has become a tradition for our family that we attend the official ceremony in the Government District where the bomb exploded 10 years ago. The commemoration is different to the ceremony on Utøya. When our parents asked us a year ago what we wanted to do this year, we were pretty convinced that if covid wasn't still playing havoc with the Norway's borders then we wanted to commemorate the 10-year anniversary in Oslo as well as on Utøya. Our plans had to be revised for a plan B after dad got sick.

Because of covid and in-travel/border restrictions our parents had to choose who we wanted to accompany us, due to lack of space in the Government District, Oslo Cathedral and on Utøya. Only the bereaved families, the survivors and their families were prioritised first, along with a selected few of Norway's politicians and bureaucrats.

We chose our grandparents because they have never attended any of the commemorations because of their health and age. Both of our 88-year old grandparents also wanted desperately to honour Sharidyns memory, but we didn't know if they could attend if there was nowhere for them to seat. Thankfully our mum had spent weeks organising and coordinating with the Prime Minister’s office, conference rooms for the bereaved families to seat in and follow the commemoration via TV-screens inside the building that overlooks the stage. When we told our grandparents, they both said yes to coming with us. Sydney and I were ecstatic and especially dad.

Walking from our hotel past Oslo Cathedral to Government Distrist. Police have cordoned off the area around the church (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

On our way to Government District 8 am (2021) Photo credit: O.R Bøhn

Our 88 year old grandparents walking towards the Government District. This is the first time they are attending the commemoration with us in Oslo. Photo credit: O.R Bøhn

Government District in front of the "old" Prime Ministers office that you can see in the background (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

On our way into the Government District to watch the official July 22nd commemoration. This photo was taken by Dagbladet photographer, Kristin Svorte who also took our photos for the interview that we did with Dagbladet.

Watching the commemoration from inside the Norwegian Minister of States offices that overlook the stage area that mum helped organised for the bereaved families. Together with our grandparents and the New Zealand Ambassador (2021) Photo credit: O.R Bøhn

Bestemor and bestefar after the official commemoration, R5 Cafeteria (2021) Photo credit: O.R Bøhn

Our grandparents Ingvar and Elsa Bøhn together with New Zealand Ambassador to Norway, Andrew Jenks (2021) Photo credit: O.R Bøhn

Me and Sydney with Communications officer for the Prime Ministers Office (SMK) Arvid Samland. Arvid is very cool and extremely kind. (2021) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Me and Sydney together with former Labour Youth leader, Mani Hussani (2021) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

NRK filming commemoration inside of Oslo Cathedral. Do you see the rose-wreath? (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Me and my little sister outside of Oslo Cathedral (2021) Photo credit: O.R Bøhn

Sharidyn's Iron-rose (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Mum, Sydney and Rita Føreland who lost her son, Thomas together with a police officer who was extremely kind to us after we came out of Oslo Cathedral. (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Mum and Sydney together with Rita and her mum Runnaug outside of Oslo Cathedral. Another emotional ceremony (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Heart-wreath outside of Oslo Cathedral (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Heart wreath outside of Oslo Cathedral in memory of the victims (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Heart outside of Oslo Cathedral which symbolises love - "... the greatest of all is love" (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

A "new" teacher made a promise never to forget (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Me and Sydney outside of Oslo City Hall before July 22nd Reception (2021) Photo credit: O.R Bøhn

Dad and Sydney at Oslo City Hall for July 22nd reception before the National Memorial Concert (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Oslo City Council Leader, Raymond Johansen remembering the victims, survivors and their families at Oslo City Hall (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Mayor of Oslo Marianne Borgen welcoming guests to the July 22nd reception at Oslo City Hall (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Sydney and dad at Oslo Spektrum before the July 22nd National Memorial Concert (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Prime Minister Erna Solberg remembering the July 22nd victims at National Memorial (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Emotional meeting Rebecca outside of Oslo Spektrum. Rebecca who went to school with Sharidyn and is now a police officer. Best part of our day (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Me and family outside of Oslo Cathedral July 23rd (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Me and my little sister Sydney (2021) Photo credit: O. R Bøhn

8th year commemoration of 22-7 terrorist attacks (2019)

22-07-2019 11:00 pm

Every year, my family and I commemorate the terrorist attacks in Norway. More importantly, we remember my big sister, Sharidyn. We don't remember Sharidyn just on 22-July.

We remember Sharidyn everyday - we remember her jokes, her quotes, her laugh and beautiful smile and all the things that we miss about her.

We don't always go to the island, or even attend the official ceremony in Oslo. Mum always asks us what we want to do, and if we all agree - then whatever we have agreed on is normally what our plan for the day is. We start our day at Sharidyns grave almost every year since the first commemoration. The years that we have lived abroad, someone in our immediate family or close friend has always gone to Sharidyns grave to light candles for us and lay down flowers.

This year we commemorated 22-July attending the official ceremonies at the Government Quarter, in the Oslo Cathedral and on Utøya. The memorial ceremonies are personal to us even though the ceremonies are very public.

You can't stand anywhere without a media camera zooming in over the crowd. My parents are not huge fans of the public ceremonies. Even worse there is no dedicated area for the bereaved families to sit. The public stand and mingle in with everyone else. It's not like the official ceremonies for Anzac Day or commemoration of mosque terrorist attacks in New Zealand where the bereaved families have a designated area. Last year, a random stranger stood beside me and asked if he could take my photo because I was wearing my sisters korowai. He got my mothers verbal-boot up his backside, and was asked to leave me alone.

Below are some photos of how we commemorated 22-July. As mentioned, our commemoration is very personal to us.

I share photos to help people understand a little about my/our life. We can't ignore 22-July. It is not just a day or a date for us, like it is for everyone else. We don't have the luxury of "hopping over" that day. For 77 bereaved families, 22-July changed all of our lives, and if we could we would choose in a heartbeat to have them with us.

Today we remember my sister Sharidyn. We miss you so much Sissi.

Me and my little sister visiting Sharidyn (2019) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Remembering Sharidyn on the 8th anniversary (2019) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Prime Minister Erna Solberg during her 22-July speech (2019) Photo credit: S.Svebakk-Bøhn

Me and AUF-leader Ina Rangønes Libak at the Government Quarter (2019) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

This year Hanne Sørvaag performed during the 22-July memorial ceremony (2019) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

My little Sydney and former Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg outside Oslo Cathedral (2019) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Sharidyns name covered in roses on the 22-July monument on Utøya (2019) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

22-July monument on Utøya (2019) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Me together with my some of our family and close friends (2019) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Me, Sydney and Mum together with former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on Utøya after the ceremony (2019) Photo credit: O.R Bøhn

Remembering Sharidyn

23-07-2018 10:47 pm

Every year since 2012, Norway commemorates the day that changed Norway forever - July 22, 2011. Remembering the innocent lives that were brutally taken from on July 22nd is commemorated in two seperate ceremonies - the official ceremony organised by the Norwegian government is held in Oslo in the morning, and the second is held on Utøya in the afternoon which is organised by the Labour Youth Party (AUF).

Most years, except for when we have lived overseas, our family has commemorated 22-July each year in either Oslo or Utøya or both. When we have lived outside of Norway, we have always had our own special memorial remembering Sharidyn. 


Me and my big sister, Sharidyn. Photo Credit: V.Svebakk

7th year commemoration of 22-7 terrorist attacks (2018)

23-07-2018 11:00 pm

This year we commemorated the 7th anniversary of the 22-July terrorist attacks in Oslo.

The official program in Oslo, normally starts around 10 am and lasts for approximately an hour. Prime Minister of Norway, Mrs Erna Solberg holds a speech, followed by the leader of the Labour Youth Party (AUF), and the leader of the 22-July National support group. After the official ceremony, then there is a religious ceremony commemorating 22-July terrorists attacks at the Oslo Cathedral, which lasts an hour and is also open to the public.

After the official commemoration in Oslo, there is also an official program on Utøya which is organised by the Labour Youth Party who own the island. The main speakers on Utøya 22-July is the leader of the Labour Party and the leader of the Labour Youth Party.

In 2012, the then Norwegian government lead by former Prime MinisterJens Stoltenberg commissioned on behalf of the government, that Norway would have two national 22-July monuments honouring the 77 victims of the attacks. This year a temporary monument was finally unveiled during the 7th commemoration. No one knows yet where the permanent monuments will be, or how it will look like.

The temporary 22-July national monument is located directly outside of the 22-July Centre in the Government Quarter Oslo, where the Norwegian Prime Ministers office used to be before the terrorist attacks in 2011.


Together with my mum, Vanessa and little sister, Sydney after the unveiling of the temporary 22nd July monument in Oslo (2018). Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

Unveiling of the temporary national 22-July monument at the 7th commemoration in Oslo (2018) Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

Temporary 22nd July Memorial in Oslo. Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

Me and former Prime Minister of Norway, Mr Jens Stoltenberg. Every year, Jens commemorates 22-July terrorist attacks by attending the ceremonies in Oslo and on Utøya. Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

Together with the Norwegian Minister of Education, Mr Jan Tore Sanner at the 7th year commemoration in Oslo. Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

Together with former Norwegian Minister of Culture, Anniken Huitfeldt at the 7th year commemoration in Oslo (2018). Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

6th year commemoration of 22-7 terrorist attacks (2017)

Honouring the victims of 22nd-July terrorist attacks in Oslo (2017) Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

Former Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg together with my little sister, Sydney. Jens was "attempting" to have a chat with Sydney (2017). Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

Together with former Norwegian Minister of Culture, Mrs Anniken Huitfeldt. Anniken has attended the 22-July commemorations every year. We are grateful to Anniken for her continued love and support (2017). Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

Together with the Prime Minister of Norway, Mrs Erna Solberg after the official ceremony (2017). Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

22-July wreaths honouring the 69 victims who were killed on Utøya (2017). Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

Together with Jens on the far right, and Sydney and I on the far left remembering our sister (2017). Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

Should 22th July be a "National day of remembrance" in Norway?

05-05-2019 10:28 pm

Friday 22nd July 2011 is a day that most Norwegians will remember. Regardless of where you were in the world on that day, most will remember how they felt the moment they heard of the explosion in Oslo, and a few hours later - the massacre on Utøya.

I was 7 years old when the terrorist attacks happened. Some of my memories about that day, and the days and weeks that followed are fragmented. As I have gotten older, my memories are like a jigsaw puzzle that eventually start to fit together and make sense. I write in the hope that one day, all my memories wil fall into place - and because 22-July represents not only the darkest day in Norway's history since the 2nd World War but because 22-July is the day our life was turned upside down.

My family and I have lived with the brutal consequences for almost 8 years. Each year since before my sister was killed we have commemorated Anzac Day, remembering our fallen soldiers who lost their lives during the first and second World Wars. Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance for both New Zealanders and Australians - a day that all children grow up learning about why it is important that we commemorate Anzac Day.

Since the first 22-July commemoration that was held on Utøya in 2012, my parents have asked (and begged) the government for 22-July to be a National Day of Remembrance in Norway, just like Anzac Day. Like my parents and other 22-July families, I too believe that the only way to teach the future about the terrible things that happened on 22-July in Norway, is to make the actual day - a memorial day.

In Norway, we love to preach about how proud we are of the fact that we are a open and democratic society" and protect freedom of speech. But what about responsibility? No one has unlimited freedom to say what they want. Our laws are supposed to protect us from hateful speech but do they? For almost 8 years, our government has produced thousands of pages with policies aimed at making Norway a safer place to live, in the hope that 22-July never happens again. And yet, the hateful ideologies that killed my sister blossom like weed throughout social media sites as if it is normal. It is no longer just right-winged nationalists who are spreading hate and intolerance, but it has spread to our main-stream population as well. Why?

For almost 8 years, hate and intolerance has moved out of the shadows and flourishes online - via social media. Politicians, bereaved parents and survivors have become victims of not only hate speech but for some, their lives and that of their families have being threatened. It's not enough that many of the victims of the 22-July terrorist attacks have to live every day with the heinous consequences, but they are also victimised in their daily lives as well. Not by a convicted mass murdering terrorist, but by people in our communities.

Over the past few years, some of our politicians have been at the centre of some of the worst comments made against our minorities - our communities of different faiths, cultural diversity and genders. Their differences rather than similiarities, have created divisons in our communities - we are becoming a society of us and them. Our generation did not sign up for this! If we continue to look the other way whenever we come across hate and intolerance, we are equally responsible for the division that has been created. One thing that I wonder about, is if we can't fight against bullying, how can we possibly fight against hate and intolerance that has existed since the beginning of time?

I truly believe that all the policies in the world won't stop extremisme - and the fact that new terrorist attacks keep happening all over the world, governments certainly can't do it on their own. Which is why I think that Norway needs to teach future generations about victims of terrorism. We have spent almost 8 years talking about extreme ideologies, while the victims of the 22-July terrorist attacks have literally taken a backseat to the terrorist that killed them.

Now it is time, to teach my generation who the victims were - because I believe that it is the only way to fight hate. The people we lost were loved, and it is our love for them that we tell the world around us who they were. Maybe love does conquer all ...?