Bereavement due to traumatic death
Adjusting to life without the deceased
Adjustment to any loss can take months or years, but it may be particularly hard to rebuild one’s life after a sudden traumatic death. Martin couldn't imagine a time when he would not recall the horror of seeing Steph’s body seconds after she was killed. Many who had lost a loved one in a violent crime often remained anxious about their own and other people’s security. However, people respond to traumatic grief in many different ways; some people recover relatively quickly.
The Potters Bar Rail crash, and her husband’s traumatic death, had turned Nina's life upside down. She feared leaving the house, but she was glad she had written the book, “Dear Austen”, a letter to her husband to tell him what had happened. Nina had started to write a new novel, something she had thought she would never do again. Others, too, had slowly regained their optimism.
Lisa was in deep despair when two of her friends were murdered. She was ill for a long time but...
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How has all this changed your life?
I was appreciative of my life before all this. And then it knocked me down to a place that I just didn’t know existed. And I, I crawled and clawed my way back. And I don’t know how I got the right answer for me but it came. And now I’m so grateful to be alive. I’m really enjoying my life [laughs], which is how it should be.
You know murder is just inconceivable. People… it’s not normal. It’s not every day. Its… people don’t know what to say to you. People don’t know how, how to listen and; people generally don’t know how to listen. They talk and they try and give you advice and say the right thing. And you’re just thinking, “You don’t get it, please just let me say what I need to say.”
“Let me let it out.” …But it does get better. And honestly you’ll want to slap me. But time does heal [laughs]. It really does.
And how painful that is to hear at the beginning you know, when you come through it, it does heal.
So how do you view the future?
It’s beautiful. I’m really happy. You know I’m really optimistic. This is who I generally am as a person, optimistic. Yes, I’m really happy.
People often felt a particular sense of loss when looking at old photographs, or on birthdays or anniversaries (see ‘Anniversaries and other special occasions’) but over the years feelings became less intense and memories less painful.
When Adrian died Godfrey felt that life would never be the same. He and his wife still miss him...
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I think, what I think is, obviously neither my wife nor I or my son had had experience of this sort of loss before. I think it is important to realise that traumatic as it is at the time, you know, one can get over it so to speak, to put it in simple terms. I had this feeling immediately after Adrian’s death that life would never ever be the same again, and of course in many ways it is never ever the same again in a certain, and certain times where you particularly miss him, at particularly things like, times like Christmas and so on, when families get together, when there is an absent member, but you know life does go on, you can reconstruct your life, and it very important I think to take a positive attitude to that, and both my wife and I decided this was very important to us to make sure that we didn’t spend the rest of our lives, you know, moaning and feeling very negative about life because of having this awful tragedy we’d suffered, and I think a positive attitude certainly can help.
Years after Dorries death, family members have learnt how to deal with their grief. Patsy's...
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How would you say the death of your son has had an impact on your whole wider family?
Well we have missed somebody that was really very important in our family and we have learnt the importance of that person in our family because I think one of the things we do we take people for granted. And we then learn how important that person was in the family and the loss that we suffer, the emptiness that we feel and knowing that that person isn’t here anymore, we have learnt that. We have learnt how to deal with our grief, we have been through a process in which we are dealing, and we continue to deal with our grief, do you get what I’m saying, and missing the person and then coming to a place were we can say and I believe we will come to that place were we can say, well we’re free from that, I really believe we will come to that place one day, I don’t know when and how but I believe that, and that we can actually be a kind of, a figure which people can look at and say you know something that person has been through what I’ve been through and they know, they understand what I‘m going through and they are coming through it alright, so I too can, you know, I mean so we are really examples, you know, and we are living examples, we are a living testimony to the fact that there is life after death.
Two years after Julie's sister was murdered she felt less depressed, but 'silly little things'...
Have your feelings changed over the months?
I’m not so depressed anymore. And it’s, it’s over two years now. But still silly little things do set me off.
You know like when he comes home from school, my nephew and he’ll say, “Oh I done this and this.” And I think she [my sister] would have been so proud that he’s coming on.
And you know she’s not here to see it. And Mother’s Day, that’s quite hard because we always take him to his mum’s grave on Mother’s Day. I will say to him, “Do you want to go?” And “No I don’t want to go.” Although he does have pictures of his mum and his baby sister in his room, and he’s also got pictures of the grave and he had them stuck on his, on top of the photos of his mum.
But he, he doesn’t, he says he doesn’t want to go he said because I don’t like thinking of her there.
He says so if I don’t go, he says I can pretend she’s somewhere else.
So and I think yeah I agree with that. If I don’t go, apart form on special occasions, I can think I’m just looking after him, she’ somewhere else.
However, others were still haunted by what had happened and were more pessimistic about the future. Sometimes some people felt that life wasn't worth living and that it was very, very difficult to ‘move on’. Two years after her daughter died, Elizabeth and her parents still felt distraught at times.
Elizabeth, whose daughter died in a car crash in 2006, wondered if she would ever feel joy again....
I do actually think that the pain, the physical pain that you feel, you can, I’m sure you can die of a broken heart and I, I do remember, and I still feel quite often, how can, how can I get up another day and how can the world just be carrying on being normal when this terrible thing’s happened, my girl’s gone.
How do you view the future?
Well sometimes I just… I wonder if I’ll ever feel joy again and that’s, then I feel really wicked saying that because I’ve got two other children that are fantastic… but you wonder really if you’re ever going to feel, I don’t know if it’s happiness, I think once something like this has happened it’s very difficult to feel carefree again in the true sense of the word and I think did I, did I value what I had enough, and I think I did, but it makes me feel that I must also value everything that I still have, including Marni.
It’s very hard not to write her name on a Christmas card… I feel I’m betraying her when I don’t, so sometimes I do. …Those funny little things are very odd, you know, not writing her name on my mum’s birthday card or something, the grandparents are terribly distraught and they don’t talk about it, they’re of a generation of stiff upper lip, you know.
Dolores' son, Tom, was stabbed to death in 2006. Two years later she still at times thought about...
You wanted to talk just a little bit about what you told your GP at one point?
Yes, it just surprised me, he asked me the question direct, and said, “Have you ever had any thoughts of death yourself?” And I said, “Yes.” Now, actually I’d forgotten about it but in fact it happened quite a lot. Not so much lately but it did happen at the time because I just, I just wanted to be with Tom.
I was, fantasising ways by which I would die. Not committing suicide but that something would happen to me. Either out of the blue, a car crash or aeroplane crash or, you know, or even someone coming and actually killing me with a knife. That was my first thought.
Do you still sometimes think like…?
Rarely, but I do.
I still do. Much, much more rarely than I did, at the beginning.
How do you view the future?
I’ve described it in my statement that I’m alive but I’ve lost something and that something, well I’ve lost my son, but it, it manifests itself physically by a, a feeling as if someone has ripped up my womb. And it’s not there anymore.
And that was a physical reaction, what I felt at the time and I still do. And then it’s just like part of me’s gone.
I know I won’t be the same. I can laugh and I can enjoy things but there, there’s, there’s always that second thought after that, that follows you know, which, which is there all the time. Like half of me’s gone.
Yes, I’m so sorry.
Stephens life was shattered when he and his brother were hit by a drunk driver in 2006. Stephen...
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So, can you say a little bit more about the whole impact of this on your life?
It’s had a devastating impact… on my life. Before the accident I used to socialise a lot. Although I had a car I would more, mostly walk everywhere I used to go.
Unless of course it was too far. But, yes, I did like walking. But since the accident, because I’ve only got half use of my leg and half use of my arm, simple things like squatting down to the floor, even kneeling on the floor is an impossibility now.
Walk up the stairs sideways. The house has been modified for me. There is a stair lift but I’m still trying to have a little bit of independence, I’m still trying to get along as I am. But I do use a hospital crutch, the elbow crutch now. And I was in the wheelchair for about ten months after the accident…
So the impact of your own injuries of course has been horrific, what about the impact of your brother’s death on the whole family? Can you say a little bit more about that?
Oh it’s unbounded. We’ve, it’s something we’ve never encountered, never prepared for it. It’s like we’ve all lost a part of our heart.
I mean, we know he’s, he’s dead, but the thing is we still don’t want him to be. You know, that, that’s the main thing. Obviously with anybody losing somebody that is everybody’s wish, they were still here.
And when it’s sudden, no time for goodbye’s or anything, that makes it doubly harder.
I mean, the rest of the family were around his bed when his life support was turned off to say their goodbyes but I wasn’t.
Hm, that was sad.
David’s son, Simon, was murdered in 1992. David said that he had learnt to live with his grief but that his son’s death had changed their lives in many other small ways.
David will never forget what happened to Simon. Since the day he was murdered David and his wife...
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And then how did feelings change over the years, it’s a number of years now but how have feelings changed over that time?
Well you feel you’ve heard it a hundred times, but you don’t forget it, you learn to live with it, but you don’t ever forget it, I don’t know how I’d react if I actually saw the boys [the killers] now, I really don’t. I’d like to think I’d be cool and calm and walk away from it, but I wouldn’t guarantee that.
How do you, how has life changed as a result of this terrible event? How would you sum it up? What it’s done to your lives?
Aah. I think, there’s nothing major there, but it’s lot of little things like when we go to bed at night, you know, we bolt and lock and bolt and lock all the doors, things like making sure all the windows are shut, we’re very safety conscious now, and it would never have bothered me before, but if I’m going down the lane or something, I always look down there first and see what I can see. And I always keep looking back to see who’s behind me. So it does make you like that. And when my, there’s a little row of shops up the road there, and when my wife goes up the shops, not that I keep a time on her, but if she’s not back in ten minutes, I just start worrying about her. So it does have an affect like that on you, definitely.
She’s got no time limits or anything, but if she’s more than ten minutes then I start worrying about her.
Some people worried about how they would cope alone. Sarah, whose husband, Russell, died in a bus crash in 2006, feared a lonely retirement without him. The future seemed 'very scary'. Martin, whose wife, Steph, had died when a bus hit her, wondered how he would manage to bring up his children without her and his fear of the future was ‘quite overwhelming’.
The death of a brother or sister can have long lasting consequences for the surviving sibling. Susanna, whose brother died in the Bali bombing in 2002, missed him very much and worried about having to care for her elderly parents single-handed. She regards the whole idea of ‘closure’ as unhelpful after such a traumatic death.
Six years after her brother died Susanna still feels pain that will never go away, that time...
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And we had nightmares for months and months afterwards, when we could sleep and insomnia most of the time. Very difficult to concentrate, very difficult to focus on normal average family, you know normal average working life really. And it took a long time for it not to be the only thought in my head, maybe a year and a half. And it was just this enormous elephant in the room that I just couldn’t get round, I just, and you just have to learn to just live a completely different life, with the facts of what happened and the trauma that will scar you forever in your head, and in your personality. And it’s an extraordinary thing to have to try and cope with, and there’s no, there’s no, there’s no easy way of doing it, and there’s no, and time doesn’t help. It may help you, it may help you work out how to live a different life, but it doesn’t change the tragedy. The tragedy is just as stark and as and as sad today as it was the day it happened. Except the day it happened we still had a bit of hope that he might have survived, and you’re inured to an extent by the physical effects of shock.
How are you now? How would you sum up how you are now?
Well you just learn to live in a, in a different world. And I now have a three year old son, and you just learn to live a different life really, and there’s just a level of pain in one’s life that will never really go away, and I very much miss having a brother. I want a brother; I don’t want to be an only child. You know, you know, and a lot of other, my friends that I’ve met through Bali feel the same. They’re now coping with ageing and prematurely aged relatives, parents, and you’ll be doing that by yourself, I mean there are ways in which my brother could talk to my parents that I couldn’t, you know? You know he’d be able to persuade them in, on some aspects, you know so, I’m kind of left, single handedly coping with something that would’ve been difficult even if it was you know it.
There’s no such thing as closure, its, you learn to live with it, but you will never be able to close a chapter. You will never be able to say, “Okay that happened, it’s in a box.” It’ll never be in a box. You manage to maybe to hold it at arms length, but its never going to be a thing that isn’t raw and it may get more manageable, but, closure maybe something that that’s helpful when discussing I don’t know, redundancy, or leaving a partner, but I don’t think it’s pertinent where a death is to have taken place under such massively traumatic and difficult circumstances. I think this word closure is a, is a red herring in bereavement terms, and it’s and it’s massively unhelpful, because I could quite honestly, I get quite cross with people who ask me if I’ve achieved closure yet. And it’s, it really, that’s the thing that really makes me angry.
Tamsin, whose brother, Matthew, died in a motorbike crash in 2006, said that she was dreading having to cope with the death of one of her parents without her brother’s support. Adam feared the time when both his parents might die and he had to grieve alone and sort out the will and make decisions without his brother. Adam also regretted that he and the rest of the family would never see Lloyd get married and that he would never have a nephew or niece.
Tamsin misses her brother very much. The knowledge that one day she will have to deal with her...
How do you view the future?
The scariest thing for me and the hardest thing that I find, particularly now that my parents don’t talk to each other, is being the only one for them. I find that really difficult and I also find that inevitably almost, my brother took more after my dad and I take more after my mum…
...and my brother was very good at lightening situations and, and I perhaps get a bit intense about things and I, and I miss that so much, his ability to just stop me worrying about things.
So, yes. And I mean can’t go on holiday without wanting to text him.
Because we always, we used to go on, we’ve done some quite good holidays between us over the years and we used to send each other really smug texts from some beach in Thailand or, you know, saying “I’m here, You know, you’re not, Hurrah.” And I miss doing that. And I know this sounds terribly morbid but I dread dealing with my parents’ deaths.
You know, I have a very supportive partner who I know, we’ve already, we’ve been together 17 years now and, and I don’t see, I hope there’s no prospect of us not being together for the future, but it’s not the same. He doesn’t understand my parents’ relationship, he doesn’t understand the difficulties and the emotion and, you know, the difficulties that go with that.
So, yeah, I dread doing those things without my brother.
Dean and his wife feared their own old age because they had hoped that their son, Andrew, would look after them when they needed care. When Andrew died the future seemed very bleak. Their lives feel empty; they take one day at a time.
Jayne’s husband, Jonathan, was killed in 1992. Jayne thinks she will never get over his death. She worries about what will happen when the offender is released from a secure hospital and she grieves for the person she was before Jonathan died - a young woman who was happy and in love.
Though Jonathan died many years ago, Jayne still misses him and feels angry about what happened...
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How are you now, after all these years?
How I am? Reflective still I suppose about it, I think that you know I’ve started a new life, I’ve got children, you know I’ve moved away from campaigning quite significantly, but I think I’m still very reflective on how Jon’s death has affected me personally. …And I think that there is, you know there’s a question mark for me about whether there’s some actual post traumatic stress involved for me, if I’m honest with you. So I’ve gone back to see a counsellor, but it’s not affecting my life in a kind of daily routine way, you know? I think it’s more about relationships that I have and the kind of anxieties that I have, you know if people are absent, you know even after all this time, so even though you feel like you’ve dealt with it,and people looking in will think, “Oh well you know Jayne’s doing really, really well.” I am doing really, really well, but there are significant things that I know that are still affecting me emotionally about it. You know like, well just memories of, memories of the night that he died, or reasons why I am in relationships in different ways, or you know, or sometimes I get quite angry at the fact that it’s happened to me.
You know, I don’t, you know I’m, when it comes up to Christmas I’m quite angry that this event has happened in my life, that I have to reflect on it. How often do you have to reflect on something? Its not something, I remember when Jon first died I woke up one morning, it was a couple of weeks after and I thought you know you can stop this now Jon, you know I’ve coped so far, come back. It was almost like it was a joke a bit, you know, there was a sense of like, “I’ve done it now, you can come back now, I’ve done as much, I’ve done as well as I can, come back.” And I think that pops, you know it rears it’s ugly head even 16 years on, you know I’ve done it now. Not necessarily come back, but let’s put an end to it. And I think there’s a realisation for me even after 16 years that there is no end to it. You know that you have to accommodate it into your life in some way that enables you to move on and enjoy life, but then you also come to a point which other people I think overlook, is that the offenders, you know, that at some point the offenders going to be discharged or released, and so you, there’s no end to it.
Some said that their whole view of life had changed. Things that once seemed important no longer seemed important. Rachel said she had been a keen golfer before Dave died but after his death she really wasn’t interested in it anymore. Her views about death had changed too. She no longer feared death for herself because she believed that if she died she would see her son again.
Two years after Dave's death Rachel still feels raw at times, and day-to-day activities seem...
I think it, oh gosh. Well I think if it wasn’t you know, if I hadn’t got my daughter, and then maybe we wouldn’t be having this conversation today, because you do feel pretty bad, but some people say “In time,” you know, “In time you learn to, you know to deal with it.” Yes, you probably will learn to maybe cope a little bit better, but you’re never going to forget.
No of course not.
So I just think it’s changed my life losing him, big time.
How has it affected sort of the family dynamics?
Oh, well, I used to be a very keen golfer, probably obsessive, I would think, and now, all that sort of motivation I did have has gone. There is no motivation anymore, and I can pick up something or leave it. Well we don’t really go out very much anymore.
Did you say golf?
Yes, I played golf, but I take it or leave it, and day to day things really aren’t that important anymore. You know it’s there’s far bigger things out there to, what, once you maybe thought, you know, was really important, isn’t important anymore. Things are just not important anymore.
Are some things very important then? I mean have you changed your priorities about what’s important?
I don’t think much is important anymore. I don’t think much is important, it’s just things.
So it’s really changed your view of life.
Yeah big time. Yeah. Yeah. It really has.
How do you view the future?
Well just, obviously you know you’ve got to keep positive, I’ve got a daughter so, what you know you’ve got to keep positive and hopefully, you know, she’ll get married and have children, and grandchildren will come along, that’ll be great. But its, I don’t know, it’s probably, you know it’s probably changed slightly, you know, if you have, if anyone’s ever a bit scared of dying or something like that, and I don’t know I’m not scared of going, it wouldn’t, it doesn’t really worry me about dying or stuff like that, but it’s all a bit strange now.
So has it, has all this changed your view of death?
Yes. Yes. Everything. Yeah, it’s all changed.
Do you want to elaborate on that a little bit?
Just, well, just the feeling you know if God forbid someone said to me, you, you know, you’ve got 24 hours to live.
That’s great, you know, yes, I can’t see Dave, you know what I mean? It’s but I know it’s all too, it’s all still raw, it’s very, it’s its still very new, so these thoughts are quite normal I think.
You know, how, it’s just not very easy to, to get on with your life and move on as people would say. You know, you need to move on sort of thing, not as though anyone’s ever said that to me, as yet, but I know that some people might, would think well it’s you know, it’s been two years, about time you got over it, move on. But you, it’s not, you can’t move on, it’s very, very difficult.
How long were you off work for?
I was off work probably only about 6 or 7 weeks, but still to this day I don’t go downstairs or in the front door, where I was told [about his death], I’m, I haven’t been down there since.
Although people often find it impossible to concentrate and need to take time off work, others find work a welcome distraction. It helped Rosemary, for example, to resume work fairly soon after her son died.
Rosemary wanted to resume normal life as quickly as possible, but felt that she would never be...
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I mean you don’t know what the longer term effect is and I have to say a couple of older people did say to me you may find that having done that you find that, you know, you’ll have a reaction in a couple of years time but I haven’t, I haven’t found that to be the case actually. I needed, I needed to not get back to normality because I don’t think you ever do that, but what’s normality, but you need to, for people like me, you need to perhaps resume what was normal life before it happened as quickly as you possibly can and that’s what I did. I’m afraid I came back to work after about four weeks because I just, no three weeks because I’d just, I’d had enough of sitting around and actually I think that’s when you also get to realise after a few weeks that; I haven’t, I’ve never really got the impression that people were bored with it or that I’d gone on about it too much but you can see that with some people the glazing over effect does happen, you know, after a while and they don’t want to talk to you about it and, you know, I couldn’t see myself sitting at home gradually boring everybody to death, it’s not the way that I would deal with things…
And to sum up your feelings, how have they changed over the last months, years since it happened?
I think you realise as it goes on that you’re never going to really be the same person again because, you know, such a large part of my life was taken away from me. And I think perhaps the thing I’m, one of the things I feel really strongly about is such a lot was taken away from him if I’m honest. You know, I mean he was at the beginning of his career and his life really and then he was about to make some quite major decisions about the way his life was going I suspect, he didn’t get the chance, you know, and he should be here really and I think that’s what’s the most difficult thing to get, you never really get over that feeling that he should be here having the life that he deserved. You know, and he didn’t, he didn’t really deserve this to happen to him and so I think as far as I’m concerned it’s much more about the personal, you know, I think the political side of it, as I say, I try to be positive about that, it’s more about what’s been taken away as far as I’m concerned.
Campaigning for change helped some people cope with grief and changed their lives completely. After Cynthia's daughter died she was determined to seek justice for her, and fight on behalf of others killed on the roads. She wrote to the Home Office and complained about the coroner, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. She also bought shares in the company that owned the concrete mixer lorry that killed her daughter, went to an Annual General Meeting and told people how her daughter had died. The company made changes to their vehicles to improve safety and invited her to help with driver training. Cynthia also wanted to change attitudes and the way people drive. She still supports those bereaved through road crashes, and works with RoadPeace (see ‘Support received from Charities’).
Cynthias anger and her determination to fight for justice for her daughter, and on behalf of...
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So what about life now, how have things changed and how do you see the future?
Well it’s not so much that life has changed, but I have changed completely. I find myself because of my anger at the way my daughters’ death was treated, and my determination to fight her corner, I mean I’m still her mother even though she’s dead I’m still her mother, and I was not willing to let her death and her life be treated in a casual way and a almost dismissive way that I encountered in the legal procedures. And my anger at that and determination to fight her corner and fight on behalf of other people too in the same position, has changed me completely. So it’s not just life on the surface that has changed, I have changed. I’m no longer the person that I was, and I think that’s why I went through that very difficult time after the trial of feeling that I wasn’t the same person but didn’t know what I’d become. And almost kind of starting again as a small child looking differently at the world and trying to make sense of it, and I have changed, but at the same time, I do need to think about myself and look after myself as well, because I’m even more vulnerable than I was. So sometimes a lot stronger, but sometimes a lot more vulnerable, and I just need to be careful of that, careful of both of those things.
Because I have done an awful lot of media work, not just about my case, but you know helping other families to put their cases and talking about the problems in general that we face, and that that’s not the whole of me, I am not [laugh] what I appear, there’s a very fragile person there as well.
After Ann’s son died she campaigned to prevent other knife crime. That work kept her going through a very difficult time. She founded an organisation called Knifecrimes.org.
Ann founded Knifecrimes.org. She goes into schools and talks to children about the consequences...
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You said that your work has helped you do you want to just say a few words about the website you set up and the work you do?
Yes, I founded an organisation called knifecrimes.org and the website is likewise knifecrimes.org and that entails going into schools with a programme that’s specifically put together called ‘Westley’s Weapons Awareness’, and that programme talks about what happened to Westley but also talks about all the other consequences of carrying knives, it also takes into account what’s called the “Be Safe Project” which is currently a partnership organisation of Knifecrimes.org and we are now not only going into schools, but training youth offending team workers and police officers, safer schools’ officers, in that programme, which challenges the, challenges young people, to what can happen, not only if they carry a knife, but their future job prospects and travel prospects if they become involved in anti-social behaviour, crime, and street, getting involved in street gangs, etc, etc. It’s a cycle which once they become embroiled in that and possibly involved in abuses of alcohol and drugs. So the rest of the website actually supports families, helps them through the bereavement stages, and generally is an information resource on many levels really.
Adam has also spent much time on his campaign against violence, in memory of his brother Lloyd. He created a website, Stand Against Violence, gives talks in schools and is making an anti-violence DVD.
Working as volunteers for the organisation, Mothers Against Violence, has also changed volunteers' lives. Patsy has met ministers and the Queen through her work, which aims to prevent other violent deaths (also see ‘Support received through charities’.) Angela and others have also worked tirelessly to bring about change and to reduce violence in the community.
Through her work with Mothers Against Violence, Patsy has met the Prime Minister and the Queen....
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Would you mind saying a little bit about your work with Mothers Against Violence and a bit about what’s happened over the years, you say you’ve been to see Prime Ministers?
Well wow, amazing occurrence really because that is what actually, the death of my son is what actually led me into meeting these people, the Prime Minister, sitting down talking with him, meeting the Queen, talking to her as well because I didn’t just meet her. Some people met her and she just walked past them, she spoke to me and I really believe it was fulfilling something that God had said to me would happen. Even when there was lots of people in that hall and we were all standing in line and she chose to speak to me, okay and I believe that for me was the fulfillment of what I was told would happen and then sitting around the table with the Home Secretary’s, you know, a number of them and meeting different people who I would have never met, you know, people who have gone through trauma, who I would have never met, you know.
And how have you contributed to those discussions mainly would you say?
Well changing policies within the Home Office, you know, the Prime Minister listened saying, “Yes this and this is what we intend doing” and the Home Secretary listening and changing things and getting us on board to be a part of that change it’s amazing going into schools, going to schools.
Have you been talking to children in schools as well?
Yes we talk to children in school, we talk to children in youth groups, we talk to, we go into prisons, we talk to murderers in prison, we talk to people who have committed crime in different ways, we have spoken to them. We have impacted their lives.
Angela said that if she hadn't worked hard for Mothers Against Violence she wouldn't be happy....
Do you want to say anything about Mothers against Violence?
I’d just like to say we’ve spent nine and a half years learning a lot, learning a lot around violence, a lot around individuals, grief, pain, but in all that learning we’re a strong group, and we’re committed to making sure things change on all levels, and that’s it really.
So how are you working for change? With the Home Office, in one way? And you have rallies as well don’t you?
We have peace marches, yes, don’t have rallies.
Alright, peace marches?
Oh we march around the city, we had one in Redcar with [a friend], and we just grow, we do programmes with young people. We support families, we work with the police, we work with education, we’re just expanding where we need to be as an organisation around the issue. We encourage young people and I personally believe in empowerment, it means I have to give up my power over children, which I’m totally happy to do because you know, and give that to young people for them to take over. And I think, doing that and seeing young people coming on board with our aims and objectives, and really taking it on board for me is like, “Hey that’s fantastic.” You know I never question why I do it, I sometimes question, “Am I mad?” In terms of my tiredness when I’m running around but I couldn’t do anything else, I think if I didn’t do Mothers against Violence I wonder where I’d be actually, I know I wouldn’t be happy, you know, trying to make a difference, yes, it’s the right thing for me, I believe this is the purpose that God had for me, you know if you had said that to me nine and a half years ago, I’d be like, “Yeah.” What ever, because I wasn’t even a Christian then, do you know?
Shazia lost her best friend due to murder when she was a teenager. The work she does to try to reduce violence based on the notion of ‘honour’ or ‘izzat’ has helped her to cope with what happened.
Shazia gives talks about her friend's death, in order to prevent other violent crime committed in...
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How have your feelings changed about it over the years?
Over the years I’ve become, I think by sharing her [my friend’s] experiences, by getting every platform, I mean, I speak at events at least five to eight events a month and every event I speak at I open up by speaking about my friend. I think that’s helped, I think that’s helped me amazingly in order to move on to think to myself ‘I’ve carried this all of my life with me for such a long time, but now I’m using this to help other people and giving something back. And I know she’s watching me, and I know that she’d be grateful of me using her experience to help the people’. I can say that hand on heart; I think that’s helped me as I’ve moved on. I’ve been doing that for the last four years.
I think a lot more people are talking about it today, I think… a lot of people are understanding how “honour” impacts on an Asian woman’s life. How it’s a daughter’s duty to carry that family honour, I think people are talking more, wanting to learn about they could prevent honour-based violence which can lead to an honour killing. I think police, social services, education, I think all statutory organisations, health, are willing to learn, willing to understand the culture and traditions. And also to understand that it’s not a part of anyone’s religion, because all religions are built on love and compassion. Whether that’s Islam, Sikh, Christianity, all religions are built on love and compassion. But no religion supports any kind of abuse. As a survivor myself of a forced marriage, I can say, “I’ve used my religion to empower me since I’ve left home”, and to understand that actually my religion doesn’t support this. My parents said this to me, and they said it was part of my religion, well actually it’s not.
Marcus has been involved in several charities that help people bereaved through murder and...
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I’m involved in a number of charities that do help bereaved people through murder and manslaughter. And a lot of what I do is giving support is …in the only way I can because having gone through that experience myself, I can, see the, you know in somebody else or be it the circumstances of the murder or manslaughter are always different.
You still have that same gut feeling that you’re able to share with somebody else. And even though I’m there to hopefully help them as well, but I give them something and they also give something back to me. It’s a two way process.
It’s not me going to be the all helping person. I give them some advice or help. But they always reflect back to me and give me a lot of feedback and help.
So it’s a two way process. So it’s almost like a double healing situation I guess.
That’s what I get from it. But it’s, it’s always increasing, murder increasing, it’s not decreasing. So the charity work that I do is ever increasing.
And you know the government should realise that and support the charities more than they do.
Last reviewed October 2015.