Bereavement due to traumatic death

Elizabeth - Interview 16

Female
Age at interview: 52

Brief outline: In 2006 Elizabeth's daughter, Marni, was killed when her car veered across the road and crashed into a lorry. The accident may have happened because Marni had a medical condition. Her death was a terrible shock. Elizabeth was devastated.

Background: Elizabeth is a Designer and teacher. She is married and has 3 children.

Audio & video

In August 2006 Elizabeth’s daughter, Marni, was killed in a car accident. She was 21 years old. Marni was driving her car. She veered across the road and her car smashed into a lorry, which was traveling in the opposite direction. Marni died at the scene. Elizabeth believes that Marni lost consciousness while she was driving, due to a medical condition, and that it was truly an “accident”.
 
Elizabeth heard about the accident a few hours later, when two policemen came to the door and asked to enter the house. At first Elizabeth could not believe what they were saying. The policemen then phoned Marni’s step-father and told him what had happened. He drove to the house, and then the policemen took them both to see Marni in the hospital’s chapel of rest. Marni looked very peaceful. Later on Elizabeth’s other grown up children also went to see Marni.
 
At first Elizabeth felt a sense of disbelief. She found it hard to sleep and she worried about Marni. She felt that Marni was around her in spirit.
 
Marni’s funeral was held on 19th August. Elizabeth and the rest of the family planned everything. They dressed Marni and chose a “bamboo pod” for her. They took her to the crematorium in Elizabeth’s husband’s van. They all went with her in the van because they did not want her to be alone. They had a horse drawn glass carriage for the last part of the journey. The family had a humanist ceremony, which was attended by about 400 people. Then Marni was cremated. After the service everyone went to the village hall to see an exhibition of Marni’s Life and art work. Later, Marni’s ashes were scattered on local heath land.
 
Elizabeth still feels a terrible sadness. During the first year after Marni’s death Elizabeth wrote to Marni every day. She found this helped. Now she talks to Marni every day and still has a relationship with her. Elizabeth has had some counselling from Cruse, and likes to talk about Marni to others too.
 
The inquest was about six months later. It was very harrowing because there were photographs of the scene of the accident. The coroner decided that it was an accident. The local press wrote a shocking inaccurate account of what had happened, which was most distressing. Reporters suggested that Marni might have been sending a “text” when the accident happened, which was untrue.
 
Marni is never forgotten. Every year Elizabeth and her other children organise a party to remember Marni. It is held outside with music. They have also placed a plaque in her memory on a tree on the local health land.
 
After Marni died Elizabeth had a number of physical ailments, such as a frozen shoulder. She says that it is important to “look after yourself” when grieving for someone. She still finds it hard to believe that the world goes on when her daughter is no longer alive.

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