A-Z

Lucreta - Interview 39

Age at interview: 57
Brief Outline: In 1996, Lucreta's daughter, Dionne (also called Dominique), jumped to her death. She was 18 when she died. Lucreta had no idea that Dionne had been so unhappy, and was shocked by her death. Lucreta has found support from friends, her church, her GP, and counsellors.
Background: Lucreta is a retired civil servant. She is divorced and has one grown-up son. She also had a daughter who died. Ethnic background/nationality: Black Caribbean.

More about me...

In February 1996 Lucreta was shocked to hear that a young woman had killed herself by jumping from a block of flats. A policeman took Lucreta and her friend to identify the body in the mortury. Lucreta was devastated to see that the young woman was her 18 year old daughter, Dionne.
 
Lucreta tried to find out what had happened by visiting the place where she had died and by talking to the taxi driver who had seen her daughter before her death. She became a “detective” and talked to as many people as possible. She heard that Dionne had had a job interview and she wondered if this had anything to do with her daughter’s suicide.
 
Lucreta wished her daughter had asked her for help. Dionne had been living away from home with her father at the time of her death and Lucreta had no idea that her daughter had been so unhappy. 
 
When Lucreta saw that Dionne was dead she felt both shocked and numb. She also experienced a mixture of feelings, including anger, sadness, fear, and guilt. She felt afraid to be alone and had a fear of the dark, and wondered if Dionne had taken her own life herself because of something she had done. She also felt a great weight on her back and a feeling that her daughter was following her as she ran the London Marathon. Lucreta found it hard to eat and lost a lot of weight. She found it hard to look after herself, and she cried and cried.
 
Lucreta had wonderful friends who she knew from church. These friends took care of her and helped her live from day to day. Lucreta’s faith in God also helped her to cope with her distress.  However, Lucreta found that some other people expected her to recover from her loss very quickly and were not good listeners. Some blamed her for what had happened. This was very hurtful. At times Lucreta felt that she might die herself.
 
After Dionne died Lucreta found a note in Dionne’s diary about her love for her mother. Lucreta found this note comforting. The police also found a “good-bye” note with Dionne’s body. Dionne had asked for her things to be burnt with her body, so Lucreta felt obliged to arrange a cremation. She would have preferred a burial.  
 
Dionne’s funeral was a very sad occasion. She was cremated and then her ashes were scattered in a memorial garden. For a while Lucreta used to visit the place two or three times a day.
 
The inquest was some time after the funeral. Lucreta found it a very distressing experience because she felt that other people were trying to blame her for what had happened. The coroner concluded that Dionne had committed suicide.
 
Lucreta was supported by a counsellor at work, who encouraged her to write down her feelings, which she found helpful, and she started writing a book. She has since started writing poetry again.
 
When the counsellor left her workplace Lucreta went to see her GP, who prescribed anti-depressants. These seemed to help but had side effects and made her feel as though she was “not on this planet”. Lucreta also saw a counsellor who worked at her GP’s practice. She still sees this counsellor from time to time. The counsellor helped her to see that she was not to blame for Dionne’s death. Lucreta also had some psychotherapy to help her cope with her grief and her memories of Dionne’s death and her fear of passing the building where the suicide took place.
 
Lucreta can now sleep with the light out, she can cook, and look after herself and is running again. She feels that life is good again, and she can make decisions about her life. She finds it easier to talk about suicide than she did in the past. Lucreta has been able to help other people who have been bereaved through her work with her church.
 
As the results of Dionne’s suicide Lucreta spends more time helping other young people in the area. She looks out for any signs of distress and she has set up a fund to help young people.
 
Special festivals, such as Christmas, are still difficult times for Lucreta. She particularly misses Dionne on these special occasions.  

Lucreta was interviewed in January 2008.     

 

Dionne's diary said that she loved her mother, that she had been 'living a lie'.

Text only
Read below

Dionne's diary said that she loved her mother, that she had been 'living a lie'.

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Where did she leave the notes?


She had a note on her when she died, but I had to go back to my previous home and I just knew as a mother there was something there. I just knew, you know when you just really really know there’s something there. And I found a note and she said, “I’m sorry if you’ve become…” I’ll try and read it. I’ll read it to you. It says, “Dear Mum,” and this was extracted from her diary 92-93, she was 15 to 16, I never knew any of this, I never knew her plans, they look as if she’s been unhappy with herself for some time. It goes, “Dear Mum, have decided to leave, move away and find my destiny elsewhere in a place where I am guaranteed success, success, life now has almost certainly become a joke, I’m just living a lie, I’m sorry for becoming an added failure to your list.”

 

So you think she’d been feeling dissatisfied with herself?

 

For many years.

 

Mm.

 

“I’ll see you in several years time, when I’m mature and have found success and happiness. You will be proud of me. Goodbye, friend and bosom of my heart, I love you and wish you the best of luck in the future, love Dionne. p.s. don’t worry where I am, I’ll be okay. Dionne is a survivor who has positivity in some areas even though often not visible. I love you Mum, keep your chin up.” I found this in her diary.

 

Could she have been thinking about moving away to another place do you think?

 

I don’t know but this was comforting this.

 

You found it comforting?

 

Yeah. At the time because I was looking for something.

 

Lucreta reads a poem written by her daughter, Dionne, just before she died.

Lucreta reads a poem written by her daughter, Dionne, just before she died.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

You just wanted to read the poem.


Okay, the poem is headed,
“Pain, long suffering”
Pain is like water,
Every time you smile, cry or moan, it drops in your eye.
Pain is something that hits, breaks, ruins and shatters all of us.
It is something that we all feel in one form or another.
We inflict pain through feeling pain.
It is easier to give pain than to abstain from giving it.
You see pain is almost like a magnet or mirror,
When you see ugliness, you want to give it back.
Ironically, when you have been crimed, you want to commit crime back,
Revenge, Frankenstein versus the Monster.
But there’s some that don’t do that,
When they are faced by ugliness, they see great beauty.
And when ugliness hurts, or injures them, they see beauty.
That barrier, to see good people like this comes far too few in this world.
Maybe, maybe this could result in a better world, a happier world
But to do this means great long suffering, often pain to the extent of one’s life.
Maybe this is the price to pay for beauty and beautiful things in this world.
Would you give your life?

 

And does she put her name at the end?

 

Dominique.

 

Thank you very much. That was the poem that your daughter wrote.

 

Yes.

 

A welfare officer at work told Lucreta that she had to go to the mortuary to identify a body....

A welfare officer at work told Lucreta that she had to go to the mortuary to identify a body....

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Right. I have, well I had two children, a son and a daughter, and my daughter Dionne committed suicide on the 21st February 1996. Dionne was a bit, she was a problematic teenager, and on this particular day I was at work and my manager’s manager came down to the office and he asked where my manager was, and I said my manager was out, and then I had a phone call from the welfare section in the government, I’m an ex-civil servant, and they said as a matter of importance they wanted to come and have a word with me, and so I went for lunch, and I didn’t take much notice of them and I came back, and, you know there she was telling me Dionne had, they’d found a body and it was in the morgue in the hospital, and, they thought it was Dionne. So my friend [name] and various other colleagues, rang my now ex-husband, and the police came and took me to the morgue in, in the hospital, in the local area that I live in. And that was really hard, I was shaking.

 

Anyway we got in [to the mortuary] and it was Dionne. She, she was battered, she had bruises all over her and I identified her from her fingers, you see she has eleven fingers like me. You know, twelve. And her toenails are like her Dad, and so I looked at those things, and I, I knew it was her, and I smacked her. I smacked her, I said, “Why didn’t you come to me, why didn’t you come to me Dionne? Why didn’t you….?” You see at this point she wasn’t living with me. Our marriage had broken down drastically and she stayed behind. And so it was really, really tough.

 

After the funeral Dominique was cremated and her ashes scattered. Lucreta used to visit the...

After the funeral Dominique was cremated and her ashes scattered. Lucreta used to visit the...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

You said you had a Caribbean funeral?


Well, what happened, yes, you know, we had to have the, yeah it was at my church and a lot of my friends came to the church.


Do you mind saying a little bit about her funeral?


The funeral was awful. It was really hard because, because she was battered there was this thing, not to have her face showing.


Would you, would you normally have an open coffin?


Yes, in some cases, but on a young girl, fashion Caribbean, if you see what I mean, and I, I, I didn’t have time really to think of all those things because I’m struggling in the midst of all of this, but it was advised to leave it sealed and so on the, what happened, everything, that took a while and it was at my church and I think, at my Church it was a service, and I was really in a mess I remember, but the worst bit was when we left the church and went to the crematorium, and we had a second service, oh, oh that was really hard because that’s when I realised she had, she had really, really gone for good because one minute the coffin was there, and the next minute I looked away and then the next minute it wasn’t there. It just went and that’s when it hit me that everything had gone and she was going to be cremated, and so it just hit, and they have a way of it disappearing in, there’s no warning, I was just like, No, …. and then I got up, I heard them and I saw it going under.


Oh.


She just went, she just went in so quick, so quick and then I had to scatter ashes and I…


Where are, where are her ashes?


Her ashes, at the church, at another church she used to go to when obviously, you know there still, at a Sunday school at this church in in another area, and so I gave some money for shrubs and they had like a memorial thing, and they have a plaque of her on the wall so, for many years when I wanted to, you know I had to go even if I was somewhere and I wanted to go, I had to go there, but now I don’t have to go, you know I don’t have to go to the memorial gardens, so it just shows you how I’ve moved on.

 

Lucreta had to answer questions at the inquest hearing for her 18 year old daughter. Although the...

Lucreta had to answer questions at the inquest hearing for her 18 year old daughter. Although the...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

…and then the coroner’s court, Oh, the coroner’s court that was awful. The police got all these witnesses, Dionne told all these untrue stories, she probably was not well or, you know and the police had to investigate these things, and these issues so they were trying, the child protection act was trying to get away from the main suicide thing, and sort of blaming the family. And you’re blaming, you’re going through all of this and then you have this court thing, I mean a real case, so anyway, my friends were at the court and my family and they comforted me and I answered the questions and that was finished.


Why did you think somebody was trying to blame you at the inquest?


Because, because Dionne, Dionne would’ve said, well Dionne probably said that I don’t know, she probably would’ve said unkind things.


About the family?


You know, about the family, you know children if, when they can’t have their own way they pick on, pick, pick, you know, and so, you know, and as I said our marriage was in, wasn’t a good one.


So the inquest was not good?


It wasn’t a good thing, but they didn’t find any, when they investigated whatever they were looking for, and I think if she was an adult they wouldn’t have, but because you know they just, because she’s a child they just have to investigate everything.


Did they have a jury?


No, it was one of the high court, he’s not there anymore. I can’t say his name.


It was a coroner’s court?


Yes a coroners’ court to find out the deaths and you know and because she jumped didn’t she? She jumped.


Was the verdict suicide? Or was it an open verdict?


No, suicide. Or she took her own life. Yeah, that’s what they…


So were you prepared for the inquest in any way?


No. Er no, I wasn’t prepared for what her friends would say, ‘cos whatever she told her friends you know, I wasn’t prepared for that aspect ‘cos you’re grieving.


Yes.


‘Cos you’ve lost your daughter, and I had to grieve for my son, it’s like everybody blames me for everything and some friends, who I thought were my friends, they blamed me and everybody blames mother. Isn’t it hard, and all you’ve done, you’re a young woman and you give birth and too, and you, it’s a learning, it’s a learning thing for everyone. And I set out to be different with my son, but he said to me, “What’s wrong with you, you’re fine the way you are.”


Mm. Did, was there a coroner’s officer who helped you at all, to tell you what was going to happen on that day?


I can’t remember. I can’t remember but he was, I can’t say his name the coroner, he was one of the high profile one’s, he’s retired now, but he didn’t find anything. He just dismissed it, all just so you know, you know what it really is, so that ended there.

 

Friends from church looked after Lucreta for a while after Dominique died. They invited Lucreta...

Friends from church looked after Lucreta for a while after Dominique died. They invited Lucreta...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Well life after suicide, I began to write a book, “Life after Suicide. A mother’s inner cry.” And the days of going to work, ah, they were hell. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t live on my own, I couldn’t sleep on my own, I became a chronic fear, I became ill, my whole life came to an end, I couldn’t go out on my own, my friends from church who I call my adopted parents they, they took me in and, I slept with her in the bed [crying], at night, it’s all right, I slept with her and she comforted me and…


This is a friend from church?


Yeah, and the church, I’m a Christian and the church helped me, I lived with them for a while, I couldn’t live on my own, and I began to write because the counsellor in my work place she encouraged me to write and when she was leaving, so I had to go to work every day, so I lived with them and they would look after me in the morning and push me out the house, and it was really good because it meant, they, they, they really did that to, to, to get me to continue with my life.

 

‘Compassionate Friends’ is a support group for those who have lost a child. Lucreta attended two...

‘Compassionate Friends’ is a support group for those who have lost a child. Lucreta attended two...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

You know so I didn’t go, and I went to another, not SOBS, another survivors thing, and I went there with my friend, my same friend who went into the morgue with me, and I won’t say her name again, and she, we went there to see what it was like. And these people ten years on, they had stood still.


Was this Compassionate Friends?


That’s it.


Aha.


That’s the one. They met in, they have places all over, and somebody at church gave me their, a sister at church gave me their thing, so we went there, and I remember, and they were like ten years on, these people were going, it’s like it became like a social gathering, you understand?

 

I think it’s for people who’ve lost a child, isn’t it?


Yes, but they haven’t moved on, and I’m thinking, “Hello, no way”, I was adamant, not to live in BACCA. BACCA is living in misery, and I’m not going to live there, so I just went once or twice, and that’s simply because I’m thinking ten years down the line, why are you still speaking this way? Why are you sounding this way, so if it’s one thing I had, was positivity and getting out of this, and do you know I set up this group, on my own group, Share, Share it, Share, Accept, Feel, Empathise together, for people who have this initial thing with bereavement. And I did it with my church, and so for a year or two people who had experienced bereavement, they would come to my house, and we’d do like a study and then we’d talk, and so I set out to help others and that went on for a while, until the, there was no use for the group anymore, because the initial stages of bereavement you know you have all this influx, but then afterwards, after a couple of weeks, you shut the front door, you’re on your own, and suicide, your front door really don’t need to be shut. You really need it. You don’t need patronisation because this is real, because death has got this one tree, and then you branch off, so you could empathise half way, and then you channel off.

 

So you felt with Compassionate Friends people were just living in the past all the time?


Yeah, misery.


They weren’t moving on?


They weren’t moving on and I had no,


You said living in BACCA. What’s that word?


BACCA is living in misery.


How do you spell that?


BACCA.


Is that a, a…?


A biblical terminology, yes. So you go, it’s like you know you go, you are out of it, you’re back in it, you’re out of it, you know, and I thought ten years down they should be, they, what they were saying should sound different.


So you didn’t want to go back?


No. I didn’t want to. I knew from earlier on, this will be hell, but I knew I had to get out, because I would die.


And you didn’t go to any SOB’s meetings at that time? Maybe…


No, I’ve never been to any SOB’s meetings.

 

After Dominique died Lucreta found it therapeutic to write down her feelings and express her...

Text only
Read below

After Dominique died Lucreta found it therapeutic to write down her feelings and express her...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Yes, as I was saying earlier on, I wrote this book and it’s called, “The Valleys of the Shadow.” But the initial name was “Life after suicide, a mother’s inner cry.” And this document was really good because it enabled me to write everything as I felt; angry, whatever I felt I wrote it as it was, and like a year later someone helped me go through the document and now it’s polished, so that therapy was to just, you know when you’re angry at someone, you just write, you do, and even today columns negative and positive, it speaks to me, and it’s support from my church you know, so it’s been really really good, but I never knew there was so many emotional pains in this world.

 

Lucreta can now live without feeling guilty, without blaming herself for something that happened...

Lucreta can now live without feeling guilty, without blaming herself for something that happened...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

I remember my neighbour saying to me that, “You’re a Christian, but why, why did our Father do this to you? Why did he do this to you?” And when I questioned this and followed it up with a question to another person, they said, perhaps he chose me because he knew I could cope. But then that bothered me for a while, I thought, “Why choose me?” But, you know in the end I just had to let go of it, and I’m glad to say that I’m back running, and I can sleep now with the light off at night. I can live on my own. I can cook for myself. I can dress myself. I can make decisions, surrounding my life and life is good and I can now live without feeling guilt, without blaming myself for some thing that’s happened beyond my control.


That’s good to know that life, you can live life again.


Yeah, yeah. And I’m really, I really, I’m really doing this because I just feel that it’s nice for people to know, it’s nice to help other people to help themselves because we’re in this world and God made each of us lacking, he didn’t make us with every skill and every tool, and so we’re supposed to live in harmony and really help each other to live their life to the full.

 

The weeks before Christmas are difficult weeks for Lucreta. She grieves for her daughter when...

The weeks before Christmas are difficult weeks for Lucreta. She grieves for her daughter when...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

I don’t like Christmas, I don’t like anything to do with families, I’m cocooned in a sense, it’s changed my whole being as a person. So sometimes when people see you they just don’t know where you are at. For example, I couldn’t buy a Christmas card, I couldn’t join the queue in the, in what people take for granted, you join a queue. And while you’re in the queue, waiting for your turn to buy your stuff you hear this one saying, “Oh I don’t know what I have to buy for this one, I’m going to buy this, perhaps they won’t like it.” And guess what, you are “dying” in the queue.


Because you’re missing your daughter?


Yes. And I can’t, I don’t know what Christmas is. And so I stopped buying cards, and buying things like that, and people won’t understand, they think you’re unsociable, think you, you’re mean perhaps, but it’s where you’re at.


Mm.


And you have to explain, “Oh I can’t do this because it causes me…”, and so sometimes before December I’ve already start on my down bit, so when come December I’m fine.


You’ve already started on your down bit?


Yeah, I go down.


Down?


Yeah down, sorry. I go down, I get a bit low, so if somebody triggered me off with something family, I start grieving and come Christmas I’m fine. So, but the, anything to do with families I’m just, I’m just no good anymore with families, I really have a problem with coping with that and being left out and missing, am missing her childhood, missing on you know, feeling guilty that she isn’t there, she didn’t come in with her boyfriend, she’s not the teenager I’m leaving the light on to come in, we could be friends going travelling and she’s my only, she was my only daughter. So it’s a big big loss. Your relationship with your son sometimes are different, they’re just not girly girly, and quite rightly, you can’t expect them to be girly girly, but he’s a nice person and a nice son you know. So it’s so different, it’s just, suicide has so many branches.


It still invades your life.


Ah, doesn’t it just. It’s, that’s the word, it’s still, and it will take you to your grave because you can’t just dismiss not having that child. But you can, with the blessing of Almighty God you can find a way…

 

Lucreta blamed herself for over a year when her daughter died, and says it's important not to do...

Lucreta blamed herself for over a year when her daughter died, and says it's important not to do...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Have you got any message for other people who’ve been bereaved?


Okay, there’s hope in this world. Don’t ever give in. You can make it and you will. You were born into this world, it took time for you to come here, and your child was with you for more years than she’s not with you now. So don’t push things, don’t expect to heal now. In Dionne’s case, Dionne’s been missing for lesser years that I’ve had her, focus on the years you’ve had. Remember, the pleasant times, the funny times, the childish times. But listen and try to pick up the signals, and it’s not your fault. Please, do not blame yourself, like I did for over a year. And remember you are the best.

Previous Page
Next Page