Bereavement due to traumatic death

Rachel - Interview 40

Age at interview: 47

Brief outline: Rachel's son, Dave, served in the Paras before he joined a security company. In 2006 he was working in Iraq when he was killed by a bomb. Rachel was devastated. She has had counselling which has helped, but at times finds it hard to get on with her life.

Background: Rachel is a senior social worker. She is married and has 2 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

Audio & video

Rachel’s son, Dave, served eight years in the Paras before he joined a security company. In 2006 he was working in Iraq, protecting convoys, when he was killed. He was in a truck on a road when a bomb went off. The bomb threw the truck into the air. The blast also threw another huge lorry up into the air, and the lorry landed on top of Dave’s truck, killing him instantly.

Rachel was at work when she heard the terrible news of what had happened. At first she was in shock and could not believe it. She and her husband then had the awful task of telling other people, such as their daughter, and Dave’s girl friend, that Dave was dead.
The security company kept Rachel and her husband informed and arranged for Dave’s body to be flown home as quickly as possible. Government red tape meant that there was a week’s delay. Rachel did not receive a death certificate because Dave was killed in Iraq. The security company dealt with the practical matters and paid for everything.
The coroner’s officer explained that there would have to be post-mortem, even though it seemed obvious what had happened. Rachel was determined to see her son before the post-mortem, so as soon as Dave’s body arrived in the local funeral parlour she went to see him. The coroner’s officer asked her to identify his body. Rachel went to see Dave’s body every day, including the day of his funeral.
Rachel knew exactly what Dave wanted for his funeral because when he was in the Paras he told her what he wanted in the event of his death. Rachel wanted the funeral to go perfectly and it did. The funeral took place in a local church, and was attended by over 400 people. After the service Dave was buried in a local cemetery. This was followed by the wake, which was held in a local hall. Rachel visits Dave’s grave every day, sometimes twice each day.
The inquest took place in January 2008. Rachel was called as a witness and the coroner read the report she had written about Dave. The coroner decided that Dave had been murdered by the Iraqis.
Rachel still feels devastated by what has happened and is determined that Dave will never be forgotten. At times she feels that life is hardly worth living and she finds it hard to get on with her life. She says she can’t “move on”. Anniversaries and birthdays are very difficult days. However Rachel wants to stay positive for the sake of other members of the family. She has had counselling through her employer, which she still has on a regular basis, and which she finds helpful.
Rachel was interviewed in 2009.


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