Bereavement due to traumatic death

Memorials, headstones and websites

Everyone wanted to have one or more ways of remembering the person who had died. It sometimes took many months to decide whether and how to mark a grave or special place. It can take time for people to be sure of what they want written on any permanent memorial; after three and a half years Peter and his wife were still unsure. Planning a memorial can be particularly difficult if family members do not communicate easily or couples are separated.   
 
Some people had been told to wait a year before buying the headstone because the ground tends to drop after a burial. Others had already marked the burial place with a headstone, a sculpture, a plaque, a small flat stone, or with another memorial such as a bench or a tree.
Most people felt comforted visiting the headstone or other memorial (see ‘Burial or scattering ashes’). A few said they did not need to visit a particular place because the person was with them in spirit.
 
When Cynthia’s daughter was killed in a road crash, people left flowers at the spot where she died. The charity, RoadPeace, now produces plastic signs, with a flower and the name of deceased, which can be left at the place where a person has been killed on the road. Cynthia’s daughter’s friends also created other memorials for her daughter. 
Linda scattered her son’s ashes on the local Downs (see Linda’s account in ‘Burial or scattering ashes’). She has had a bench made in Kevin’s memory for a local park. She has also planted a couple of beautiful rose bushes in his memory, and she has spray-painted her hallway with aspects of Kevin’s life. She also has photographs of Kevin all over the house.
Alison has online memorials for her children on two websites. It means a lot to her when people post messages on the websites. Alison also had a fun day for local children in memory of her son and daughter.
People who had lost a relative in a mass disaster, such as the Bali bomb of 2002, sometimes helped to create a public memorial to the victims.
Memorials can take many forms. Rosemary’s son, James, died on 7th July 2005 in the London bombing. A memorial is planned in Hyde Park for all those who died in the bombing. Rosemary has also created other memorials to her son.
Dean’s son was killed by a car as he waited for a bus near to their home. Dean and his wife were supported by friends and relatives, and with help from neighbours and his MP and the former Mayor of London, they put up a bus shelter in his memory. It stands at the exact spot where Andrew died and has a plaque with his name.
 
Some people campaigned to prevent other senseless and traumatic deaths (see ‘Adjusting to life without the person who died’). Members of the family and friends set up the Tom Easton Flavasum Trust in memory of Tom. The aim of the Trust is to get the anti-knife, anti-gun message across to other young people.
Jayne's work with the Zito Trust is a memorial to her husband; she did not want a plaque or other memorial.

Last reviewed October 2015.

Last updated October 2011.

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