Bereavement due to traumatic death

Julie - Interview 09

Age at interview: 38

Brief outline: In September 2006 Julie's sister, Shirley, was murdered by Shirley's ex-partner. She had suffered domestic violence for a while. Julie and the family were shocked. Julie now cares for Shirley's son. She has been supported by her family and friends.

Background: Julie is a Student nurse. She is married and has 3 children. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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In September 2006 Julie’s sister, Shirley, was murdered by Shirley’s ex-partner. During the months before she died he had beaten her up and had been in prison for his violent behaviour. He was released from prison on bail and returned to the house, forced his way in and stabbed her. Shirley’s 11 year old son found her body. Shirley’s death was a double tragedy because she was pregnant when she died.
The family was in a state of shock when they heard the news. Shirley had had a baby, Keeley, who had died in 2007, and they were still coming to terms with her loss when Shirley died. Julie found it hard to sleep and had to go to the GP for sleeping tablets. She felt suicidal for a while but realised that she had to stay alive to look after the family and to care for Shirley’s young son.
Victim Support was very helpful. One of their volunteers found a counsellor for Shirley’s son. He is still seeing a counsellor. Victim Support also told the family about activities and things that Shirley’s son could to do, such as visits to local museums, so that he could take his mind off the terrible events. Victim Support also offered Julie counselling, but she decided that she had enough support via family and friends.
After Shirley died an inquest was opened and adjourned. There was a post-mortem and then Shirley’s body was released for the funeral.
Julie saw her sister’s body when it was at the city morgue. She went with other members of the family and with Shirley’s son. Julie is glad that she went to see her sister’s body, but it was very hard for them all because her nephew wanted to stay with his Mum. A few days later, Julie asked the funeral director if she could see Shirley’s body again, but the funeral director said that it would not be a good thing to do because her body had changed so much.
The funeral was held in December. Many people came to the funeral. Shirley’s ashes were put with her baby daughter’s ashes. After the funeral people gathered at the local pub and recalled all the wonderful things that Shirley had done during her life.
The court case was at the end of January. This was a difficult time for the family. They heard all the details of how Shirley had died. Julie and her family were relieved when Shirley’s ex-partner was found guilty of murder.
Julie says that it is important to remember people as they were and not as they died. She says that the pain does get easier as time goes by but it never goes away.
Julie was interviewed in November 2008.


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