Bereavement due to traumatic death

Patsy - Interview 21

Female
Age at interview: 61

Brief outline: In 1999 Patsy's son, Dorrie, was shot. He died soon afterwards. Patsy was devastated, but through her belief in Jesus, her relationship with God, her work with Mothers Against Violence and other community work she has come to terms with Dorrie's death.

Background: Patsy was a social worker (now retired). She is married and has 6 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality' West Indian.

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One day in 1999 Patsy’s son, Dorrie, said that he was going out to play basket ball. He was 20 years old. He went out with a friend who came to visit him, who was driving the car. About 10pm that evening the phone rang and Patsy heard that Dorrie had been shot. She waited for her friend to arrive and then they went to the hospital. There she heard that Dorrie had died. He had been shot three times and one bullet was fatal. She went into a hospital room to see her son and was able to touch him.
 
At first Patsy felt numb. At dawn, she went into the park and jogged for a while, and met an unknown man, and she told him what had happened. She went home and got ready for the Vocational Bible School. She felt that she had to turn to God for help. She had no idea why her son had been shot, though she suspected that jealousy might have been partly to blame. Dorrie had not been a member of a gang. Even though her son had died, the next day Patsy went to her church to help with the vocation Bible School. She continued with her social work and church work.
 
After Dorrie’s death Patsy could not believe that he had died. She felt devastated when she thought about what had happened. When walking outside she sometimes thought that she had seen Dorrie and on some occasions she broke down and wept again and prayed.
 
Patsy went to see Dorrie as he lay in the chapel of rest at the hospital. She went a few times, sometimes with Dorrie’s friends. She was glad she was able to see him again.
 
Dorrie’s funeral was amazing. The church was packed and there were just as many people outside as inside. Patsy’s eldest son sang and there was other lovely music. Patsy believes that Dorrie is now in a ‘better place’ and that he is alright. Dorrie was buried in the cemetery. A year after Dorrie’s death the family held a memorial service, which was also well attended.
 
Soon after Dorrie died, a group of women met and started the organisation Mothers Against Violence. They wanted to prevent senseless gun crime and gang culture. Since then Patsy and others have worked tirelessly to bring communities together and to raise awareness of the dangers of violent crime. Patsy and her colleagues go into schools, youth clubs and into prisons, to tell people how crime can have an impact on other people’s lives. Patsy sees her work as a living example of the fact that there is life after death. She has found comfort by giving back to the community and by praying to the Heavenly Father.
 
Sometime after Dorrie’s death a person from Victim Support called at the house. Victim Support is the national charity which helps people affected by crime in England and Wales. Patsy was told that she could claim financial compensation from the State because Dorrie had never committed a crime. Obviously the money could not replace her son but the money was helpful.
 
Patsy decided not to go to the inquest. She did not want to hear the details of how her son had died. She did not attend the court case either. However, two young men were found guilty of owning the gun that killed Dorrie. The gun had also been used previously, and so they were sent to prison for a number of years.
 
Since Dorrie’s death Patsy has worked tirelessly to prevent other deaths due to gun crime. She has met the Queen, a Prime Minister, Home Secretaries and other ministers and has helped to change policy.
 
Patsy was interviewed in 2008.

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