Bereavement due to traumatic death

Erykah - Interview 22

Age at interview: 36

Brief outline: In 2002 Erykah's brother was shot many times. His death was a terrible shock, and at first Erykah couldn't believe it. Erykah's faith keeps her strong. She has found support via the organisation, Mothers against Violence (MAV).

Background: Erykah is an outreach worker and student. She is single and has 2 children. Ethnic background/nationality: White/black Caribbean

Audio & video

In 2002 Erykah’s brother was shot dead in the street. Erykah was told on the phone. It was a terrible shock, and Erykah couldn’t believe it. She went to the scene of the shooting and saw her brother on the ground outside a house.
At first no one was allowed to move him. An ambulance had arrived but the doctors were not allowed to attend to him until the armed response unit had arrived to make sure it was safe. This was very hard for the family. It was terrible to see him on the dirty ground but unable to help.
Eventually Erykah’s brother was taken to the hospital mortuary. When Erykah visited the mortuary and saw him there she realised that he really was dead.
The funeral was a month later. First of all Erykah’s brother’s body was brought back to the house. There was some delay because the police suddenly decided that they wanted more finger prints. Erykah’s brother’s body lay in an open coffin and he looked as though he was asleep. The family wanted to celebrate his life so there was music and food. Many people came to pay their respects. The next day there was a large church funeral, with a closed coffin. Erykah’s brother was then cremated and his ashes taken to his mother’s house. The ashes are still there. After the funeral there was a huge party with a DJ to celebrate his life
The police asked endless questions and the investigation continued for months, but the crime was not solved and no one knows who shot Erykah’s brother. The inquest was about two years after he died. The police said it was a case of mistaken identity, but Erykah does not believe that was the case because her brother was shot eight times. The coroner said that her brother had died due to “Death by Association”. The case is still open and there has not been a court case, because no witnesses have come forward.
Erykah is a very spiritual person and she believes that her brother’s spirit is all around her. Her faith keeps her strong. She has found support via Mothers Against Violence (MAV) and works for the group too. This voluntary group provides support to those who have been bereaved due to violent crime. The group also campaigns for positive change in communities that have been affected by gun violence. The aim is to create a more caring society.
Erykah has not had any formal counselling but may access it at a later date. At first she was angry and hated the people who had killed her brother, but now she would just like to meet the person and understand why they did such a horrendous thing. She believes in living life to the full and feels a need to carry on and support her own family. She also wants to keep her brother’s memory alive and she talks about him often.


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