Bereavement due to traumatic death

Ian - Interview 32

Male
Age at interview: 39

Brief outline: In 1999 Ian's brother, Dorrie, was shot. He died soon afterwards. Ian was deeply shocked but he supported the rest of the family and kept his faith in God. Dorrie's death made Ian reassess his life, and live not only for himself but also for Dorrie.

Background: Ian is a Parenting Officer. He is married and has 1 child. Ethnic background/nationality: Black British

Audio & video

One night in 1999 Ian got the news by telephone that his brother, Dorrie, had been shot. At first Ian thought that Dorrie was still alive and he prayed that Dorrie would survive. However, soon Ian received the news that Dorrie had died. It was a terrible shock. Ian went numb and screamed. He then prayed again and asked God why it had happened. He did not feel angry with God but he wanted to understand why Dorrie had died and why a member of the family had been murdered.
 
Ian went to the hospital to meet other members of the family. There they went to see Dorrie’s body. Ian was comforted to see that Dorrie looked at peace. Seeing his body helped Ian to accept that Dorrie was indeed dead.
 
Ian’s faith was shaken by his brother’s death. However, but his faith was also deepened because he realised that God had helped him come through the experience. The morning after Dorrie died Ian helped with a summer school at his church. The words of the song that morning in assembly gave him strength to carry on. Other people who attended the summer school found it hard to know what to say.
 
The police liaison officers were helpful and kept the family informed. They showed Ian where Dorrie had died. Ian felt it was important to see where Dorrie had been shot and where he had fallen minutes later.
 
At first the newspapers referred to Ian’s brother as Donnie rather than Dorrie, which was very upsetting. Many other people sent flowers to the house, which some members of the family appreciated. However others did not like receiving flowers because they were a reminder that Dorrie had died.
 
The coroner released Dorrie’s body for the funeral about six weeks after his death. His body was in a closed casket for the funeral, because of the condition of his body. Usually, during most Black Caribbean funerals the casket is kept open so that others can view the body. About five hundred people came to the funeral, which was wonderful. Ian found it comforting to see so many people offering support. The service was taken by the minister of the Evangelical, Pentecostal church. The family planted a tree near the spot where Dorrie had died.
 
Dorrie’s death made Ian reassess his life. He realised that life is precious and that every day is important. He went back to further education and qualified as a counsellor. Ian feels that he is living, not only for himself but also for Dorrie.
 
Ian did not go to the inquest or the court case. A man was charged with possessing the gun that killed Dorrie, and he was sent to prison, and given the maximum sentence for possessing a gun. No one was charged with Dorrie’s murder because there wasn’t enough evidence.
 
After Dorrie’s death Ian felt that he had to be strong for other people. He had to support his mother, wife and sister. However, before Dorrie died Ian had attended a meeting of a group of other men who wanted to support each other. This was organised by a friend who belonged to the Catholic Church. After Dorrie died Ian attended another meeting of the group. There he was able to express his grief and he felt supported and comforted.
 
Ian now accepts that God allowed Dorrie’s death. However he works hard to prevent other violent deaths and he does voluntary work with the organisation, Mothers Against Violence.
 
Ian was interviewed in January 2009.

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