Bereavement due to traumatic death

Jayne - Interview 07

Female
Age at interview: 44

Brief outline: In 1992 Jayne's husband, Jonathan Zito, was murdered by a man who had mental health problems. Jayne was shocked and traumatised. Since then she has had a great deal of counselling, which has been very helpful. She founded the Zito Trust.

Background: Jayne is a Trustee, the Zito Trust. She has 2 children and is single. Ethnic background/nationality' White British.

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In 1992, soon after Jayne and Jonathan were married, Jonathan was waiting for a train in the London Underground. Without any warning, a man stabbed Jonathan several times in his face. This man, who had serious mental health problems, waited for the police to arrest him.
 
Jonathan was taken to hospital. Meanwhile a policeman told Jayne that there had been an incident and that she should go to the hospital. There she was given some false hope that Jonathan might survive, but after a brain scan all treatment was stopped and Jonathan died. Jayne stayed with him for a while, which she felt was very important. She was shocked and devastated by what had happened.
 
Soon afterwards Jayne was able to see Jonathan again, but only from behind a glass screen and in the presence of police officers. She hated being separated from him in this manner and became quite hysterical for a while.
 
After a post-mortem, Jonathan’s body was released for the funeral, which took place in Cornwall. While Jonathan was in the Chapel of Rest Jayne was able to see him again. This time she was allowed to be with him on her own, which is what she wanted. She felt that it was really important to have private time alone with her husband. Jonathan was cremated and then Jayne and her family took his ashes to Italy. After a memorial service his ashes were scattered under a beautiful oak tree.
 
Jayne had a “complete breakdown” after Jon’s death. She was in “complete shock” and wanted to be by herself but could not look after herself. For years Jayne felt inconsolable. She felt a kind of terror and at times felt physically sick, out of control, ashamed and ugly. She had to give up her job and her course and her flat in London. She could not drive a car and felt that she could not function.
 
Jayne had support from her family and she had a counsellor from CRUSE, who was invaluable. The counsellor was helpful partly because she was interested in Jonathan’s life and his marriage to Jayne, as well as his death. After Jayne moved she found help via a woman who worked for Victim Support. The woman referred Jayne to London voluntary bereavement services. It took years for Jayne to recognise that she was a victim, a survivor, and that something had happened to her too.
 
Jayne did not attend the inquest, but she did attend the trial, which took place about six months after Jonathan’s death. The man who stabbed Jonathan pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibly, so the trial only lasted about an hour.
 
Jayne wanted to find out exactly what had happened on the day Jonathan had died. An inquiry found that various health and social services authorities had failed to communicate and co-operate. Jayne felt outraged that people could leave a mental hospital without enough care in the community. She was convinced that Jonathan’s death could have been prevented. She sees her work, and her campaign for better mental health aftercare, as a memorial to Jonathan.
 
Jayne founded The Zito Trust, which supports families that have been bereaved, particularly families who have been victimised or affected by someone who has a mental health disorder. The Zito Trust is a charitable organisation.
 
Jayne was interviewed in 2008.

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