Bereavement due to traumatic death

Tamsin - Interview 06

Age at interview: 37

Brief outline: One day in 2007 Tamsin said goodbye to her brother. That evening Matthew died when his motorbike collided with a car. Tamsin was devastated. Her partner and her family support her but she misses Matthew dreadfully and the pain doesn't get any easier.

Background: Tamsin is a Project manager. She is co-habiting. Ethnic background/nationality' White British

Audio & video

One Sunday in 2007 Tamsin said goodbye to her brother. Matthew was aged 34 at the time. Later that evening Matthew died when his motorbike collided with a car. The car was driven by a woman who turned right without looking in her right hand mirror. Matthew was overtaking on the wrong side of a double white line.

Tamsin was getting ready for bed when she heard that her brother had been in an accident. Her father gave her this news over the telephone. The police took her and her father to the hospital, which was about 30 miles away. There they were met by other policemen, her mother, and the coroner’s officer, who gave them information and who asked the family about organ donation. After waiting for a while in a small ante-room Tamsin and her parents were taken into another room to see Matthew. The policemen then took them all to her mother’s home. The policemen were kind and respectful at all times.

Tamsin felt absolutely devastated by what had happened. She spent the next week with her mother. After that she wanted to be with people who had known Matthew well, and who understood how much he had meant to her. She found it helped to talk to her friends about him and about the good times they had had together.

Tamsin was away from her work for about three weeks. She helped to plan and organise Matthew’s funeral, which was held about two weeks after his death. The family chose a casket that was biodegradable and environmentally friendly, and very pretty. The service took place in United Reformed Christian church, which was packed with Matthew’s friends. Many spoke about his sense of humour, his sense of optimism and his kindness. Matthew was buried in the churchyard. The family is planning a memorial stone. Matthew’s girlfriend has put a memorial bench in a local park.

During the next few weeks the coroner’s officer and the liaison officer helped the family with practical matters and gave them information. The coroner’s officer showed them the photos of the crash site and gave them details of the medical examination. She also explained what would happen at the inquest. She was kind, helpful and respectful.

The inquest was held nine months after Matthew’s death. Tamsin and other members of the family had the opportunity to question the woman who turned right across Matthew’s path. Tamsin believes that there was fault on both sides and that her brother’s death was an accident. She knows that strictly speaking her brother should not have been overtaking at that point on the road but she also believes that the driver should have looked in her mirror. Tamsin is still upset and angry by the apparent attitude taken by the driver and by the lack of any sign of remorse. The coroner concluded that Matthew’s death was due to an accident.

Tamsin missed her brother dreadfully and still does today. The pain she feels doesn’t get any easier or any less painful. Matthew was so central to her life that some days she finds it hard to cope without him. She dreads having to deal with her parents’ deaths without his support. She likes it when people talk about her brother and acknowledge what has happened and show some sympathy. This makes the world seem less black.

Tamsin was interviewed in 2008.


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