In life nothing is more inevitable than death, it simply cannot be avoided. Despite advances in medical sciences and increased longevity in the Western world, human life remains fragile as death can occur at any age in a myriad of circumstances. Grief follows the death of a loved one, is often cited as being a ‘universal’ response to loss (Davidson, 1988) and can be defined as ‘intense sorrow’ (Oxford English Dictionary, 2013).
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Each bereaved person will experience and respond to grief in a unique way, underpinned by social, cultural and religious factors, further influenced by the individual’s personality and coping mechanisms. Grief reactions are widely acknowledged to vary in length and severity and to have physical, emotional, cognitive, behavioural and spiritual components (Rosenblatt, 1993: Archer, 1999: Parkes, 2001). On the 18th September 1989 I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl weighing 8lbs and 11 ounces. As a parent I had such high hopes and expectations for the future but on 23rd February 2002, aged 12 years, her life was drastically cut short following a tragic accident. She was excited as she set off for her first ever sleep over at her best friend’s house, I was anxious as this was the first time she had been away from home without me. On that cold, damp Saturday afternoon they had decided to go out for a bike ride (my daughter had borrowed an old bike belonging to her friend’s brother).Whilst out riding the chain came off, as she fell to the ground the bike landed on top of her abdomen causing her liver to rupture. My daughter died within minutes from a massive internal haemorrhage, in severe pain and all alone at the road side as her friend had gone to get help. Oblivious to what had happened; I received a telephone call from her friend’s mother stating that Gemma had been in an accident and to meet her at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Assuming that she had experienced relatively minor injuries (I was told not to worry), I was ill prepared for the scene that unfolded before me as I entered the Multiple Injuries Unit in Accident and Emergency. Gemma lay motionless on a trolley, her body covered with a white sheet. The room was full of nurses and doctors who had attempted to resuscitate her, all of whom appeared shaken and emotional but no one was able to provide an explanation or answer my questions as there were no signs of injury or trauma to her body. It was only after the post mortem that the cause of her death was identified. I left the hospital that evening with a carrier bag containing her personal possessions and a leaflet explaining ‘what to do when a child dies in hospital’,
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