Bereavement due to traumatic death

Dolores - Interview 34

Female
Age at interview: 54

Brief outline: In September 2006 Dolores son, Tom, was fatally wounded. He was stabbed by a man who had schizophrenia. Dolores was in shock for at least a couple of months. Cranial therapy and meditation helped, but Dolores still feels very sad and depressed at times.

Background: Dolores is an architect. She is divorced and has 1 child who died. Ethnic background/nationality: Jewish.

Audio & video

In September 2006 Dolores son, Tom, was fatally wounded. He was stabbed 22 times by a man who was mentally ill with schizophrenia. He had not been diagnosed at the time. This happened while Tom was recording music in a studio with some other people. The man who killed Tom was a stranger. Tom was trying to help him with his music. The man was caught by the police, and in December 2007 he pleaded guilty of manslaughter, on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The NHS is investigating what happened to the man’s care before he killed Tom. This is part of an investigation which is looking at a number of similar cases, where young people have become criminalised because of lack of care.

Dolores was at home asleep when the phone rang and she heard the terrible news. She was devastated and wanted to see Tom immediately, but was told that she could not see him immediately because of his facial injuries. Dolores screamed and cried. She did not care what Tom looked like, she just wanted to be with him. The next day Dolores was able to see Tom at the mortuary, but she was not allowed to touch him in case she disturbed the evidence. He was behind a glass screen. Dolores saw Tom once more when he was at the funeral director’s.

Dolores' family gathered while they waited for the funeral. She found it hard to believe that they were eating and chatting and laughing while she was mourning for her son. Dolores did not have a traditional Jewish funeral for Tom, mainly because he was not brought up in the Jewish tradition. They had to wait ten days for the funeral. Tom was buried in a bamboo coffin, on his birthday, in a cemetery. The family brought a piece of granite all the way from the Alps for Tom’s headstone.

Dolores found it hard to sleep after Tom died. She also felt depressed and could not work. She did not want to see a counsellor, or take anti-depressants, so she went to a cranial therapist who helped her sleep. Dolores saw him once a week for about six weeks. The cranial therapy helped Dolores to cope and she started eating better.

The police liaison officer was very helpful and continues to keep Dolores informed about any developments. The family received £11,000 criminal injuries compensation, but this can not bring Tom back. Dolores was surprised to discover how little life is valued by the State.

Dolores and other members of the family and friends have set up the Tom Easton Flavasum Trust in memory of Tom. The aim of the Trust is to try and prevent tragedies like this happening again by raising awareness through creative means. The Trust has been named after the music label Tom created to record his first track. Those working for the Trust use creative arts, such as interactive theatre, to get across the anti-knife, anti-gun message to other young people. Through this voluntary work Dolores has met other families who have been though a similar terrible experience. She has also been in contact with MAMAA (Mothers against murder and aggression).

The Trust is part of an umbrella organisation called “Through Unity”. This is a coalition of families who have suffered the loss of a loved one as the result of gun and knife crime. They have joined together with others to tackle the problem of knife and gun crime on the streets.

Dolores still mourns her son and likes to talk about him. She grieves for what he is missing and for the grand-children she will never have. At times she still feels very depressed and copes with each day at a time. Occasionally she wishes she were dead too.

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