Bereavement due to traumatic death

Pat - Interview 05

Female
Age at interview: 62

Brief outline: In 2007 Pat's son, Matthew, was killed when his motorbike hit a car that was turning right. The coroner concluded that it had been an accident. Pat was devastated. She has found support from family, friends, and through Cruse Bereavement Care.

Background: Pat was a Health visitor (now retired). She is divorced and has 2 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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In 2007 Pat’s son, Matthew, was killed when his motorbike hit a car that was turning right. He was overtaking a line of cars and the driver of the car in front did not see Matthew before she turned across the road.
 
Pat was alone in her house when two policemen came to the door. They came in and one of them told her that her son had been in an accident and as the result had lost his life. Pat found it hard to believe what he said. She felt utterly shocked and found it hard to speak and was unable to cry.
 
Pat phoned her ex-husband, Matthew’s father, and told him what had happened. He phoned their daughter. The policemen told Pat that they would have to wait a few hours before they could go to the hospital to see Matthew. After this delay the policemen drove Pat to the hospital, where she met her ex-husband and her daughter. The coroner’s officer was there too. She gave them information and asked them about organ donation. They agreed to donate Matthew’s organs. They knew that is what he would have wanted.
 
The coroner’s officer then took them to see Matthew. Pat wishes that she could have seen him sooner. She wanted to hold Matthew and kiss him but was terrified that he would feel cold. She longed to be alone with her son and, but the coroner’s officer stayed in the room.
 
After a post-mortem the funeral director collected Matthew and took him to the place where he had last lived, and where he had lived as a child. Pat wanted him buried in a place where he was well known and where he had made many friends. Pat decided not to see Matthew again because he had had a cornea removed for organ donation and the repair to his eye had not been good, and she wanted to remember her good looking son just as he had been before his death.
 
Pat planned the funeral with the help of family and friends. Many people came to the funeral and spoke about Matthew. They described his sense of optimism and his kindness and selflessness when teaching other people. Many people recalled that Matthew would “always look on the bright side”. Matthew was buried in the church yard. The family is planning the memorial stone. His girlfriend put a lovely crafted seat by a lake as a memorial to Matthew.
 
The inquest was about six months later. The coroner gave a verdict of accidental death, but Pat finds it hard to accept that no one is responsible for her son’s death.
 
Pat says that the last year has been the worst period of her life. Her son’s death has “shifted the foundations” of her life. She says that it has been a “terrifying black period” and that nothing can make things right again. She feels that she was in a shocked state for a year or more. After Matthew died Pat felt that she had to repress her feelings of sadness and anger, but gradually, with the help of a skilled counsellor from Curse Bereavement Care, she has been able to express her grief, and has cried every day. She has found that crying helps. Pat believes that Matthew is in the spiritual realm and that she will see him again.
 
Pat was interviewed in 2008.

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