Bereavement due to traumatic death

Sally - Interview 14

Age at interview: 39

Brief outline: Sally's mother died in 2007. Her flat caught fire, probably due to a cigarette which had not been put out. Her mother may have been a bit drowsy due to an overdose of pain killers, which may have led to the accident. Sally and her family were devastated.

Background: Sally is a Chef. She has a partner and has 3 children. Ethnic background/nationality' White British.

Audio & video

One day in September 2007 Sally heard the terrible news that her mother had died. Sally’s brother broke the news early in the morning. They both went to the hospital, where they met the coroner’s officer, who explained that there had been a fire at Sally’s mother’s home. Sally suspected that her mother had left a cigarette smouldering and that this had caused the fire.
Sally had to identify her mother, which was an awful experience, because her mother was covered in black soot. At that stage her mother was lying in a hospital ward. Sally had to tell everyone else what had happened. She felt that she was carrying all the burden of sorting everything out. She felt that she had to be strong for everyone else.
Sally went to see her mother’s flat, which was distressing too. Sally knew that her mother had been taking strong pain killers for her brittle bone disease, and she suspected that her mother had taken too many tablets, which had made her drowsy and which may have led to the accident. All the things in the flat were ruined except for the photographs, which were saved.
The coroner’s officer put Sally in touch with an excellent funeral director, who helped Sally with the funeral arrangements. There was a post-mortem and then Sally received an interim death certificate, so that the funeral could go ahead. Before the funeral Sally went to see her mother again. This time she was in the funeral parlour. Sally regrets that decision because she did not like the way her mother looked or felt. Sally prefers to remember her mother as she was when she was alive.
After a lovely funeral Sally’s mother was cremated. Almost a year later her ashes were put in the remembrance garden at the church. The site is marked by a beautiful plaque.
Sally has been supported by friends and family. In a way she feels relieved that her mother is now at peace and no longer in pain.
The inquest took place in November 2008. The coroner decided that Sally’s mother had died due to an accident.


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