Bereavement due to traumatic death

Rosemary - Interview 25

Female
Age at interview: 65

Brief outline: Rosemary's son, James, was killed in the 7th July bomb attack in London in 2005. The family was devastated. Rosemary found help via family, friends, and colleagues, and through a vicar and a psychotherapist, and by creating wonderful memorials for her son.

Background: Rosemary was formerly a senior administrator for a university. She is married and has 2 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality: White British

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Rosemary’s son, James, was killed in the 7th July bomb attack in London in 2005. He was underground, traveling by tube when one of the bombs went off. At first Rosemary was not aware that James was involved in the incident. However, she knew that something had happened to him because he was supposed to be coming for supper that night and did not appear. Rosemary tried to get information via the “help line”, but was asked the same questions over and over again and found the process unhelpful and exasperating. Looking back she thinks that the lack of information was scandalous. Later, when a Family Assistance Centre was set up things improved and families received more help.
 
The bombs went off on a Thursday. By Sunday the family had two police liaison officers. The officers took DNA to help with identification and gave the family information as it became available. They also interviewed Rosemary and she suspects that they were trying to find out if James was connected with the terrorists in any way.
 
James’ disappearance was a shock to the entire family. Rosemary soon suspected that her son had been killed. While friends and younger family members searched hospitals she slept a great deal and read books while she waited for news.
 
James was identified by DNA about a week after the attack. The two police liaison officers rang the family to say that they were going to visit them with some news, and then they arrived and confirmed that James was dead. Rosemary and her husband were given the opportunity to identify James’ body but they decided, given the circumstances, that it would not be a good thing to do. Later, when they received the post-mortem report, they discovered that James had died instantly.
 
At first Rosemary did not think about herself but was most concerned about the reactions of those around her. In particular she was worried about her daughter, her husband and her son’s friends. However, Rosemary was devastated by her son’s death. At first she wondered how she was going to get through future years without him. She contacted her local vicar, who was very supportive. Even though Rosemary is not a religious person she found that the vicar helped her enormously. He helped her to appreciate that life was still worth living, and he convinced her that she had to get on with her life and not sit around doing nothing.
 
Three weeks after James died Rosemary organised a private funeral for family members, and a memorial service for the family and for hundreds of James’ friends and colleagues. Both services took place in the local church. James was cremated and then his ashes were buried in a garden of remembrance in the church yard.
 
Rosemary went back to work after three weeks. She had wonderful support from family and friends and work colleagues. She also found professional counselling very helpful. She went to a psychotherapist once a week for four months. This was a NHS referral. The counselling was excellent, but the process of getting the referral was terrible. The GP who referred Rosemary made her feel as though she was making an unnecessary fuss. However, she only had to wait a week for counselling to start.
 
After the bomb attack the Mayor of London set up a fund to provide some financial help to those affected. Rosemary thinks that this was well organised. The families of those who died also received £11,000 from the Government as Criminal Injury Compensation.
 
The inquest has not yet taken place. Rosemary finds this waiting very difficult and she thinks that the inquest should take place as soon as possible. She suspects that the coroner is waiting for the result of another court case, concerning those suspected of being involved in the acts of terrorism, before holding the inquest.
 
Rosemary wanted a memorial for her son. Her son’s employer, a health care body, has made an award to enable other young people to do research into health care. This award is made annually. The family has also donated money for an annual award for the person who does best on a University course called “Islam and the West”. Rosemary is very proud of these memorials. A physical memorial to those who died on 7th July will soon be put up in Hyde Park. Rosemary also wrote about James for the Book of Remembrance, which is kept in St Ethelburga’s church, in the City of London, where there is a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. She found that writing about James was very therapeutic. A copy of this Book of Remembrance is also on display in the Museum of London. Rosemary is also involved with the charity, Disaster Action. Recently she was asked to comment on the new rules for Coroners, which are due to come before parliament.
 
Rosemary was interviewed in 2009.

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