Bereavement due to traumatic death

Murder or manslaughter involving guns

Hearing that a friend or relative has been murdered is unexpected and deeply shocking (also see ‘Changing emotions and physical reactions'). Some people we talked to described what happened after a relative or friend had been shot. Shazia’s school friend was shot by her father because of “izzat” or honour. He believed that his daughter had brought shame and dishonour on the family because she was not at school when he thought she was supposed to be there. He also shot his other daughter and his wife and then killed himself. This all happened one day in 1993, when Shazia was 13 years old. Her teacher told Shazia and her two friends that they could leave school at lunch time. The girls’ parents did not know that the girls had a half-day holiday and thought they were at school all day. Instead of going straight home the three girls went to the park.


Shazia recalls what she saw from the street and her feelings of horror and disbelief when she...

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Age at interview: 28
Sex: Female
So we made our way, started heading back home and in order for me to get to my house I would have to walk up my best friend’s street to go to my street, so I couldn’t get home. And the whole street was cornered off and all I could see was police talking through a microphone saying. “Please surrender your weapon and come outside.” And we waited and waited and waited and her father... went to shoot my friend, and her mother tried to stop the argument and tried to stop the [sigh] all the noise and everything and she, she got caught up in the cross fire and she got shot by her husband. The other daughter, my best friend’s sister, she was critical and died later on in hospital. My best friend was shot… and then he shot himself. So a whole family literally…
Where you outside the house when this was happening?
We were outside the property at the end of the street where the street was cornered off by the police. And… I remember very late that evening, I could not believe that she wasn’t here anymore, I couldn’t believe that a couple of hours ago I was sitting in the park with her and we were talking about all the things that we wanted to do later on in life. For example going to college, going to university and the kind of things that we wanted to do in life and I could not believe that she had been taken away, her life had been taken away for something as trivial as truanting school. And… I quite bravely said, very late that evening when the barriers were removed at the house that I wanted to go into the property. And I just had to see for myself what had happened in that house; in order for me to accept that she wasn’t there. And I remember going home and we used to always lend clothes to each other and borrow each others cardigans and jumpers, and I had this little black cardigan, which was her cardigan, and I remember never taking that cardigan off and always wearing it with every clothes that I was wearing and I was convinced it would go with every outfit that I used to wear [laughs] and yeh I couldn’t understand that no one was making a fuss about this. Couldn’t understand why no one was questioning why she was murdered and how she was murdered. I remember the next day seeing it on the front page of the newspapers but no one in the community talking about it and just, just going along with like it was just a normal death, and it wasn’t. She had been killed doing something as trivial as truanting school when her father had killed her, killed her sister, killed her mother and killed himself. No one talked about “honour”, no one talked about “izzat”, which is honour, no one talked about it was wrong, no one said anything. I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral.
Did your parents go?
My parents went but I never had the chance to say bye to her.
Did your parents discuss why this happened?
Not in front of me, all my parents said to me was, “She was murdered for doing something wrong; she had brought shame on the family”. And I couldn’t understand how she had brought shame on the family for doing something that every child, I believe, must do in their lifetime.

Dorrie was also shot. Patsy, his mother, felt numb when she heard the news, and Ian, one of her other sons, was stricken with grief.


After Dorrie was shot Patsy wished she had gone to the hospital immediately. He was dead by the...

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Age at interview: 61
Sex: Female
Well if I could tell you what happened I would really give you a full story of what happened but because I wasn’t there I don’t actually know what happened. What I do know is that on the 3rd August I came home, my son was in the house and while I was busy in the kitchen a young man who I had not see for about 2 years, 3 years walked into the house and said “Hello” and I said “Oh how are you, where have you been?” and he said “My car was in the garage” and then he said “Is Dorrie in?” well I didn’t know whether he was in because I’d just come in and so I proceeded to talk to him and a young girl came downstairs, from upstairs because she actually came home with me, and she said “Yes, Dorrie’s in”. So he came down later and he said he wanted some money to go to basketball and I told him I really didn’t have any, I was busy in the kitchen so he should go and ask his sister who was upstairs.
The next thing I know he came down, a couple, maybe about 15 or 20 minutes later and said he was off to basketball and that was the last time I saw him. He left and around ten or after ten at night I heard, the phone rang and I heard a scream and it was the same young girl who had answered the phone and she screamed and said “Junior has been shot” because that’s what we called him, Junior, “he’s been shot”. So I woke up because I’d fallen asleep on the settee, quite dazed and not knowing what to do and proceeded to phone a friend and then, you know, and my daughter was in the house at the time and she was saying, “Mummy are you coming?” and I was just so dazed walking around the room and I said, “No, no, no go on, you go on and leave me” so she went on and left me in the house, which was something I’ve really regretted really when I’ve thought about it, I’ve thought I should have gone with her but I was waiting for my friend who, we were very close, we used to pray a lot together and we’re very close. So by the time I got to the hospital my daughter came walking to us and said “Mummy Junior is dead”.
You didn’t know he was dead before you got there?
No, no I knew when I got there that he was dead.
How terrible. What went through your mind at that time?
Well I was quite dazed, I was quite dazed. Numb I think, as I walked towards the accident and emergency unit. And after my daughter said that and my husband making a grunt, because he was there, I’m not even sure if he was in the car with me, I don’t think he was I think he actually went off with my daughter. And that started a journey that I will never ever forget.

As soon as Ian heard that his brother had been shot he started to pray. Then he heard that Dorrie...

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Age at interview: 39
Sex: Male
It was, yeah, I remember it being one of the busiest weeks of my year because I was working at summer school, and I was quite used to, to doing this because it was something I’d done over a number of years, so I was prepared and geared for this very, very busy week that I was going to have.
And anyway the second day I was exhausted, I remember coming home, being very, very tired, my family and myself, because my wife also does the summer school with me, and my son attended with us, and he was very, very young at the time, so it had been a really, really busy day and we came home and I remember us having a very, very early night, and going to bed round about eight. And then it was phone call that that woke me up, and I didn’t actually get to the phone in time, but when I did I received a message and it was my sister’s boyfriend and in the message he had just said that my brother had been shot, and my family had gone to the hospital. I called back and he sort of gave me a bit of, of detail on what had happened, and my sister had just left, my Mum had just left for the hospital, Junior had been shot, and we refer to him as Junior because Junior was named after his Dad, who was Dorrie, and at home we called him Junior, because he was Dorrie Junior.
So I got the call, I remember putting the phone, the phone down, and turning to my wife, and telling her that Dorrie Junior had been, had been shot and the first thing I felt I needed to do was to pray, because I had the faith in God, and I believed that he was going to be with me, and was going to protect me and was going to, I think make sure that everything was going to be right. And I guess even that faith at that particular time, I also believed that nothing would seriously happen to my brother, that he wasn’t, wasn’t going to die, he wasn’t going to you know die like they were, that the faith that I had was going to make sure that he would live. Like there was a sense of going down in and praying that he would be okay, and that he would be fine.
And as I started that prayer the phone went again, and I stopped praying, I picked up the phone and it was my sister on the phone and her words were, “Junior’s dead.” And my whole body just went numb.


My whole body was just, it’s an experience that I’ve never had before, and I’ve never had since. Because everything in my whole being just became paralysed for from a moment and I remember just screaming a scream that just came out from the bottom of me you know. I remember, my sister recalls that hearing it on the phone, this scream that she’d never heard before in her life, and my voice never had sounded like that before, and since, but it was just it was almost as though something had been removed. I can only describe it as something like a leg or an arm, something had been removed from my body and I was never going to have it back again.
And I was totally lost in that that grief, that shock, and I was just lost for a period of time, and I guess quickly I went back to my faith. I went back to God again and thinking, “God Why? That shouldn’t have happened to me, that shouldn’t have happened to my family.” You know, we’re a God-fearing family, where we’re, we’ve always believed in you, we’ve always had faith in you, we’ve prayed together, we’ve done all the things, why has that happened to my baby brother?”

In 2002 Erykah’s brother was shot eight times. He died at the scene. The killer has never been caught and the case is still open.


Erykah was at work when she got a phone call to say that her brother had been shot. She rushed to...

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Age at interview: 36
Sex: Female
It was May 23rd 2002, I was actually in work at the time, and I got a call to say that my brother had been shot, was killed, it was that instant the call that’s there no kind of warm up to it. It was just…
How awful.
Yes initially, I was in total disbelief, I didn’t believe it. And I rang someone who came for me from work, and they drove me to the scene where it happened which was about an hour away. I don’t have no recollection of the journey, I can’t, that’s the first time in my life that’s happened really. I remember getting in the car but I don’t remember the way we came or anything. We arrived at the scene and it was, it was just off a main road where it happened and the road was closed off so as my partner was driving up the road I kind of got out of the car, and ran towards where I could see there was lots of people.
And where he was there was lots of police tape, and I couldn’t get through. But it was in front of a house so I think in the spur of the moment I kind of run for somebody’s back, because the back was open, through their house to the front so I could get to where the body was. I was still in total disbelief at this point, because it just looked like a lump on the floor, and it had like the police white cover over, but I could see his trainer, it was definitely his trainer but the body wasn’t recognisable. The way the body must have fell, or it was formed, I didn’t recognise at all so it led me to disbelief so I rang his phone and obviously the body on the floor, the phone rang.
Is he your only brother?
He’s, no I have another brother as well, I’ve got two brothers, or three brothers actually, younger one’s, but he was the one that was a similar age to me, he’s the one who I grew up with. All through my childhood it was just me and him.

Last reviewed October 2015.
Last updated August 2013


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