Michelle - Interview 41

Age at interview: 40
Brief Outline: In 2005 Michelle's mother was murdered. She was stabbed. Michelle was shocked and horrified. She has found help through friends, family, a community psychiatric nurse, a psychologist, a homeopath (privately), a medium and by writing about what happened.
Background: Michelle is not working due to illness. She is single. Ethnic background/nationality' White British.

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One day in October 2005 Michelle’s Mum did not arrive for work. Michelle and her father were worried about her so they phoned the local hospital, but no one knew what had happened. Michelle’s Dad went home and was met by two policemen, who were waiting for him. Michelle phoned her Dad at 3.30pm to ask him if he had picked up her Mum from work. He told her that she wasn’t there and that he had had to report her missing. This obviously wasn’t true, but he didn’t want to tell Michelle anything more over the phone.
At about 6.30 pm a Detective Constable/Family Liaison officer, a trainee Detective Constable/ Family Liaison officer and Michelle’s Dad arrived at Michelle’s house. The police officers reported that a woman’s body had been found in the local area, but that they did not have any details about how she had died. Michelle was hysterical. She felt shock, horror and disbelief. It was way too much for her to take in. Michelle felt like opening the front door and running. She just wanted to escape from this nightmare and be alone. The policemen made her go to her parents’ house for the night so that she could be with her father.
The next day the same two police officers returned and told them that Michelle’s Mum had been murdered. Michelle felt numb and couldn’t comprehend what was being said and was reeling from the shock. Michelle’s Mum had been doing some cleaning for an elderly lady. The lady had gone out and a man had entered the unlocked house and had killed Michelle’s Mum with a knife.
Michelle’s Dad went to see his wife in the mortuary, but Michelle and her sister decided that they wanted to remember their Mum as she was when she was alive. Family members and friends visited the house and offered a great deal of support. Michelle’s GP prescribed Diazepam for a few days, which had a calming effect. Sometimes Michelle just wanted to be alone and to rest and cry. She felt great despair, shock and horror about what had happened.
The family organised the church funeral, which was very well attended. Michelle wanted everyone to come in colourful clothes to lighten the sad situation. Michelle’s Mum was buried in the cemetery, just up the road from the church, and then people met near the beach for a reception.
Michelle’s GP referred her to the mental health team so that she could find support. A community psychiatric nurse provided support on about four occasions, but had to stop work because she broke her ankle. Michelle had another community psychiatric nurse for a while, but he changed jobs, so she lost his support too. Michelle also saw a psychologist for a while, but he focused on her obsessive, compulsive disorder, her obsession with locking doors and windows, and her fear of knives, which was not what Michelle felt she needed at the time. She saw him for a while, but then he retired. All this support was paid for by the NHS.
Michelle really wanted to talk to someone else who had lost a loved one due to murder. She was put in touch with a woman via Support after Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM), but the woman had lost her mother 20 years ago, and Michelle wanted to talk to someone who had lost someone more recently.
The trial took place a year after the murder. Michelle went to court on one occasion, because she felt she had to see the man who had murdered her mother, the man responsible for tearing her family to pieces, and causing so much anguish and devastation, and the man responsible for robbing the life from one of the kindest, sweetest, and most giving people you could ever wish to meet. The jury found the man guilty, and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Michelle has been offered art therapy, which she would like to do one day, but at the moment she is too unwell to start therapy, due to her illness, ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome), and another condition called Ototoxicity. Michelle also suffers with nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder due to the murder of her Mum. She keeps having flashbacks to the police officers arriving at her door and keeps picturing her Mum being stabbed to death.
Michelle still feels very sad and traumatised and will miss her Mum for the rest of her life. Not a day goes by when she doesn’t think of her and speak to her. Sometimes she feels that this is all too much to bear but draws on her inner strength to keep going. She finds it helpful to write down her feelings in a journal. She also writes poems to her mother.
Michelle’s spiritual beliefs have been a great comfort to her. She has visited a medium on more than one occasion. The medium has had contact with her Mum, who says she is very happy. Michelle is convinced that her mother is with her in spirit. Michelle tries to think positively and she takes one day at a time.
Michelle and her family have had a memorial in the form of a birdbath made and placed in the church grounds. Michelle has found this a source of comfort.
Michelle will always have a special place in her heart for the police, who dealt with this tragedy. They were absolutely amazing and were so sensitive and compassionate at all times. They did much more than their jobs. Michelle couldn’t have asked for more. They were outstanding.
Michelle was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in 2009.

Michelle's feelings overwhelmed her after her mother was stabbed to death. She could not put them...

You mentioned emotions of shock, disbelief, anger, sadness. Did you feel any other emotions?
Disgust, hatred. I thought that the person that done it was vile, absolutely vile. Loneliness, isolation, complete loss, totally overwhelmed, the overwhelming feelings of what’s happened, and what’s happened to your mum, just it’s just absolute horror. Just you can feel it running through you, and your heart, you, get your adrenaline every time you think about what’s happened you get an adrenaline pumping through your body and anxiety and, there’s, there’s feelings I felt that I can’t even put into words to be honest, I can’t name them. I don’t know, I don’t know what, what I would call them.
So it physically affected you too, because you had this…?
Oh it does. You don’t want to eat, you just, I wanted to die. I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up, or I wanted to swap places and I wanted it to be me that it had happened to, and that my Mum was still here.
You can’t get away from yourself, or what you feel, but you feel like running and there’s nowhere to run to. You just want to run away and, you just want to make it go away and you can’t. It’s like being trapped in this, I don’t know, this big black dark empty mess. You can’t see an easy way out. You know it’s going to take years to see even a glimmer of light. 
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The family put up a lovely headstone in memory of Michelle’s mother. They also commissioned a...

Did you have a special gravestone or plaque made for her?
We’ve got a lovely headstone and it’s got a little angel, sat like that, which is really nice, lovely words, beautiful words, and we’ve recently had a bird bath made with some lovely words on and put in the church grounds where my Mum used to go. So that’s nice.
How did you plan all that? Did, did somebody help you choose the stone, or the wording or the inscription?
The funeral director brought round some pictures so that you could look at like different headstones, different colours, and sizes and shapes and different types of stone, and also you can look at all the script to see which style of writing you like. And it’s quite hard actually because you want, you want it to be perfect and you want to choose exactly the right thing. But I quite enjoyed doing the words. I came up with the words, and you know cleared it with my sister and my dad to make sure they were happy, and yes.
So then do you ask the funeral director to organise that, or do you get in touch with the person that’s making it directly?
They do it. They gave, there’s a stone mason local, which is up the road, and they sort of liaise between themselves.
The funeral director does?
Yes, and the stone masons, but they’re very good. 

Michelle had felt strongly that something dreadful had happened to her mother and was horrified...

On the 12th October 2005, my Mum had gone to work. My Dad had dropped my Mum off at work and he’d called round here at lunchtime, and somebody had telephoned him to say that my Mum hadn’t turned up at her job. And instantly that unnerved me, and I felt quite worried. I felt like intuitively I knew something was wrong.
And my Dad said, “Well you know your Mum, she’s always helping people. She’s probably stopped along the way and she’s helping someone.” And it didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel right at all. So I said, “Well can we ring the hospital?” The local hospital, and make sure that nothing’s happened. That my Mum’s been taken in. So my Dad said, “Okay, then we’ll do that.” And we rang the hospital and no, no, no Mum, no lady of that description or age had been taken in.
So I got my Dad to keep ringing the place where my Mum was supposed to have gone to work. There was just no answer. Anyway my Dad sat for a while,
Then he went home. And I came up to bed for a lay down and I started crying because I just knew something terrible had happened. And I kept saying, “Oh please Mum where are you? Please be alright.” And I couldn’t rest. And about, my Dad was due to pick my Mum up at half past three so I was so stressed out and impatient that at half past three I rang my Dad’s house, and my Dad answered the phone, and I said, “You, you haven’t picked Mum up have you?” And he said, “No, I’ve had to ring the police and report your Mum missing.” And I thought, “No, that doesn’t ring true. That doesn’t sound right.” Because my Dad can’t have been there, come home, rung the police, all by half past three, so, something, no somebody’s not telling me the truth here.
So I then had to get up and I felt so anxious and stressed out. And it was a terrible time because I knew something was wrong. And I sat downstairs. I like to watch Home and Away, that’s my little treat for the day, and I sat to watch Home and Away, and I was still worried and thinking of my Mum, and then I heard footsteps, footsteps coming up the path, and I stood up and looked out, and I saw my Dad, and I saw a lady and a man with him. And I went to the glass of the door, and I just looked and I just started, I became hysterical, and I started saying, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, can’t be.” And I opened the door. , they came in, and…
They told you the bad news?
They just said; I was going around the house and wouldn’t let anyone near me and I was just saying, “Get off me, no, no, no, no, no I can’t hear this. No, I can’t do this.” And my Dad got hold of me and tried to calm me down, and they said, “We have found a lady’s body, we can’t tell you anymore than that.” And I was saying, “Well what do you mean? Found a lady’s body, what can have happened? It is an accident? Has she taken an overdose?” And I was running through my mind what could have happened. What has Mum had a fall and cracked her head or? And nobody could tell us anything. And then I just become detached. It was like I came outside of my body and I was looking at myself in this horrendous situation, but my body was trying to protect me. It felt like your body being protective, because it was just too much to take in. It was just way too much to take in. Absolute shock, horror, disbelief, I can’t hear this, because it can’t be true. And it was horrendous.
So what happened the next day?
The next day the police came back around, and I remember one of, the man came into the lounge and he said, “I’m awfully sorry to tell you this, but your wife was actually murdered.” And, I remember my Dad’s words, he went, “Oh God. Oh.” And we just couldn’t believe it, and like the first thing my Dad said was, “Can you tell us, was she sexually assaulted as well?” And, and, and he said, “No, I can confirm that your wife wasn’t assaulted, you know sexually assaulted.” And, I don’t know, I’d, you just go, you just can’t take it in, it’s just too horrendous, your mind cannot cope with such a huge shock.

Michelle, whose mother was murdered, felt a bit sorry for the people from Victim Support who...

Were you met by anybody from Victim Support?
Yes, they were on the scene. They came to see us at my Dad’s house but I feel like they were quite out of their depth. They didn’t quite know how to relate to us with what, what was going on. I don’t mean that unkindly, I felt sorry for them.
They just, you felt they didn’t know what to say?
Yes, they just, it was just like they were, well they were obviously shocked about what had happened, and they just had difficulty knowing how to communicate with us, on what level, what to say, what was the right thing to say, what was the wrong thing to say. They were sweet, they were lovely ladies, but I felt sorry for them because they were in a very difficult position.
Was it the same two ladies who met you at the court?
No, I don’t think they were at the court.
Oh, they just came to your house?
I just remember them coming to the house.
Did they just come the once?
Yes, because we said we said we didn’t want them to come again. We just said we were going to deal with it privately.
Did they approach you, or did you get in contact with them?
We were asked if we wanted to contact them, and we did. Yes, it was a lot for them to come and do, you know, they’re not used to doing that sort of thing down here. So it wasn’t their fault. 

After her mother died Michelle found great comfort through seeing a medium, who contacted her...

Do you have any sort of spiritual belief?
Yes. And that is the one thing that has really helped.
Do you mind saying a little bit about that?
Yes, I do believe in the after life. And I do believe in the spirit world and that when we leave this plane we go onto another plane, and we meet up with our loved ones. I do believe that. And I also believe that the one’s that we’ve lost are always around us, watching us, communicating with us, they see it all. And they are, I, a hundred percent believe that they are around us, and I have sought comfort through seeing a medium as well and had contact with my Mum who says she’s very happy.
Oh that’s good. Did you approach the medium after this had happened, or had you been in touch before with the medium?
I’ve always been spiritual. It wasn’t because of what had happened to my Mum, I’ve always had my spirituality and my beliefs and they have always been a comfort through life, so I just drew on it heavily, and I have seen a medium in the past, maybe two or three times and my Dad and I went but we booked in false names, because of all the publicity, we didn’t want to come away and think that she might have know who we were and she still told us what our names were. And my Mum was there, and she gave her name, said what had happened to her, told us all sorts of things about what we’d been doing, she told us about her funeral, and the pictures we placed on her coffin.
So when you say your Mum was there, she spoke through the medium?
Yes, yes. And she sent so much love, and said she was so happy, it was wonderful.
Do you also have religious belief?
I mean, yes I believe, I believe that, if I believe in the spirit world and the after life, I do believe in God in some capacity. I don’t think he’s this man sat up there, pulling strings. He’s just a great force, and I believe in Angels and things like that, yes. But I’m not a strict religious; I’m not a Christian or a Catholic or anything, and I don’t go to church. 

The police updated Michelle weekly about the evidence they were collecting for the trial. She...

The trial took place a year later. It took a year to get everything together. The police were amazing. I can’t thank the police enough for everything they did, they were marvellous. And we used to have weekly updates where they would come round and discuss what they’d found out, what, what they were going to use as evidence, you know there are certain things the police aren’t allowed to tell you, but they informed us with as much as they were allowed to, and they were always just wonderful. They were really good people. They really were, and that went on for a year. And then the trial started.
Could you ring up the police if you wanted information?
Mm. We had their mobiles and that. Yes, they were brilliant?
Did they come in pairs or did they come alone or..?
Sometimes they came in pairs, and sometimes we had one on his own, sometimes you might have five or six of them, you know a whole load of them.
Did you feel they were trying to get information from you, or was it, or was it they were giving you information?
Both really. I mean they had a lot of questions to ask; they needed to build a huge picture. Yes, it was both. But they were brilliant.
Yes, they were very, very good. The case they built was amazing. You know they really did work hard. They really did, and the trial started the following year. And that went on for I think it was two weeks. 

Anniversaries are hard for Michelle. It helps her to do something positive - she leaves flowers...

Do you want to say anything about anniversaries?
Anniversaries are very, very hard; they’re one of those things that you can’t escape. Every year you’ve got several anniversaries, you’ve got Christmas, you’ve got birthday, you’ve got, well I have Mother’s Day, and then you’ve got the anniversary of when it happened, they loom over you. As they get closer you can you can feel this, it’s very oppressive feeling, its, it’s that, it takes you to a dark place to be honest. It is, it sets you back. But I think what, what helps is to try and do something positive, like I’ll take lots of flowers to the cemetery and I’ll make it really nice. I always light candles and I speak to my Mum and I’ll say happy birthday or happy Mother’s Day, and I’ll write something to her. I think you need to again have some sort of connection with the one that you’ve lost, and if you want to cry a lot then that’s fine, let it out. It, you know, just because a year's passed, two years, three years, four years, whatever it may be. You don’t have to be all cleared up and…
…not cry anymore. I think you could cry for the rest of your life if you need to you know? Not every day, but on and off there’s going to be triggers, and they are going to make you go back and visit a dark place. But again you will come out, you will come out of it, and somehow you’ll see the light, I don’t know, you do somehow come through it.
How do you view the future now?
One day at a time.
One day at a time. I think you feel broken in pieces, but you somehow do, you do carry on. You just have to I guess.
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