You said the family is being supportive, did you look anywhere else for help, counselling or anything?
Yes, the week before my brother’s death I had been invited on a weekend with men, a weekend that was specifically for men, and it was run by the Catholic Church. And I was invited with, from one of my Catholic friends who had actually was going, and actually was going to be doing some singing. And he asked me to, would I sing? Would I help with the singing? And I said oh yes, I’d come along. And so I went on this weekend, with this group of men, and part of the weekend is to form a counselling group, a group, a supportive group.
And we had done this, and this was just a week before my brother’s death. And we had formed this group over this weekend, it was very supportive it was a, I think there was five of us in it, this small group. And we talked about lots of issues, different issues that we were going through as men, whether they’d be family, marriage, and parenting, all those things we talked about, and shared, and the idea of this was that it was supposed to be established in this weekend, and then it was to continue once a month or so after the weekend. And we had actually booked our appointment, our first appointment for the 5th August. That was in our diaries after this weekend that I went on with them. And the 5th August was a few days after my brother was killed, and funnily enough the group all phoned round and said, “We can cancel it, and move it because of what’s happened, because we don’t want to go on with our, have our first meeting without, you know, one of the members, because of what happened.” And then I got a call from my friend and he said, “Oh we’ve cancelled, we’ve decided to cancel it, just because of what’s happened, we don’t want to go on without you,” and I said, “You know something, don’t cancel, I’m going to be there, I’m going to come to the meeting,” and that was the best thing that I did.
They supported you?
Because the support, this was the first time, sorry, this was the first time I felt supported, you know because the first time I felt that people heard my grief, and heard my pain, and heard my insecurities, and heard my fears, and I was able just to be me. I was, I didn’t need to be a husband, I didn’t need to be strong as a brother, as an older brother, and there was a lot of that when a, when a, when a death takes place there’s a lot of having to be strong for other people around you, having to be strong for your Mum, you don’t want your Mum to see you broken because you want her, her to be strong. You don’t want your sisters to see you broke, you know, you want to be strong for everyone. And you don’t want to be, you want to be strong at home, you want to be still showing that you’re coping. But this was the first time I was able to just…
Did you feel you could cry?
I could cry. I was able to cry. I was able to share every emotion and feeling that I had, that I felt, and do you know something I was, I was able to hear from other men also their experience and you know, so many answers were given to me at that, that session, to so many of the things that I had, was battling, I was battling with., my personal battle in accepting this, this death. In trying to cope and move on from this; so many answers came out of that, that group of men.
Did you meet again? Did you ever…?
We met again, yes, we met, continued to meet for a number of sessions, after that, and again it was it was, it continued to be a strength and we dealt with lots of different issues, we dealt with other people’s issues as well, after that, but that first session was entirely for me I think, they had all, or whatever they, issues were going on for them, they had just put to the side.
The other thing is that they don’t live in this area, they don’t, they don’t know. You know they live in a very, very maybe affluent area, part of the city, they had never ever been in contact with anyone from violence. I was the only black male in the group you know, it was a completely different life for them, you know, and this was an experience I guess that they never ever thought that they would ever meet someone who had lost a member of their family, so it was completely new for them, and they were totally accepting. The acceptance I felt at that meeting, the fact that they were all there, they all turned up. None of them was too embarrassed to come; none of them was too embarrassed to ask questions. I mean, you know, they didn’t treat me with a sense of ignoring, or there was no difficulty there, they just they seemed to at ease with it, and I guess that came because of the week that we had had, the weekend that we had had together, we had formed such a good relationship, and I guess you know when I talk about God and my faith in him, I really feel that that group was formed a month before my brother died and it was key to seeing me through. I believe that it was him, that he, God knew that this was happening, and this was preparation for me, this was going to be my, my outlet, this was going to be the place that I found comfort and that I found him, you know and his love, and I found a great lot of love in that, in that, in those meetings with them.