Bereavement due to traumatic death

Karen - Interview 04

Age at interview: 40

Brief outline: In 2007 Karen's mother died when her house caught fire. It is unclear how the fire started, but the coroner decided it was an accidental death. Karen was shocked by her mother's death. She has been helped and supported by her husband and his family.

Background: Karen is a registered Manager of a Care Home. She is married and has two children. Ethnic background/nationality' White British

Audio & video

In April 2007 Karen’s 57 year old mother was at home when her house caught fire in the middle of the night. Her mother’s brother-in-law and her grandson were also in the house at the time. Her brother-in-law and her grandson managed to escape but Karen’s mother died in the fire. She was identified by dental records. This was a terrible shock to Karen, who arrived at her mother’s house while the fire was still burning.
At first the fire was seen as suspicious, and there was a post-mortem. It took a while for the police to finish their investigations, but by May the police were satisfied that there were no suspicious circumstances. Karen and her family were then able to hold the funeral. Karen’s mother was cremated.
During this terrible time Karen was supported by a police liaison officer, who answered questions, and who let her know how the investigation was going and who helped the family deal with the media.
The coroner’s officer also collected information for the coroner. She looked at the burnt house and interviewed Karen for about four hours. The inquest was held in March 2008. Karen felt that it was rather a waste of time because she still has unanswered questions. The coroner decided that it had been an accidental death. Karen was upset that newspaper reporters wrote inaccurate reports of what had happened. She does not think that reporters should be allowed at an inquest.
Karen found it hard to sleep after her mother’s death. Her GP gave her some sleeping tablets. Karen asked him if he could arrange some NHS counselling, but the GP said that this was not possible and suggested that she should contact Cruse Bereavement Care. Karen decided that she did not want to do that. She has been supported by her husband and his family.
Karen thinks that the fire might have been caused by an electrical fault. She thinks that Councils should conduct electrical safely checks as well as gas safety checks when inspecting their properties yearly.
Karen was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in 2008


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