HAVING TO IDENTIFY A RELATIVE

Breaking news to different people I often find myself identifying how much they can handle before I open my mouth and delivering it in the way I know that they will receive it best. I don’t always get this spot on but thankfully I’ve become better at it in recent years.

Our recent news is the worst news I have ever had to break and re-tell over and over. I have learnt my lesson over being too quiet for too long – someone, somewhere fills in the gaps for you. So my way now is to retreat, think, work it out then start telling it how it is. Incidentally this works better in the manner of doing the telling yourself rather than sending a messenger in your place unless you really, really trust that person.

Anyway. I found myself having to re-tell some of the events to old friends last night and I noticed that I kept back exactly how I tell it in my head and go with what I like to think of as the “journalistic license version” for most people. However this is my blog and my rules and my space. Oh no, MySpace! SIGH.

The story is that my husband was found hung by his own scarf at his place of work. He was found an hour later, (so I am told by the police), and they escort me to identify him some 16 hours later. I wasn’t ready to go but they wanted to start a postmortem before the weekend. As next of kin I had to go. My father in law was thankfully available to come too. Had I seen a dead person before? No. The closest I had come to death before this was hearing the loss of old boyfriends, headteachers and friends. I had been to my grandparents funerals. A family pet had had a heart attack and died in my arms on the way to the vets. I had seen the face of death on a cat before. The face at the point of death. But not the face of 16 hours later death on the body of the man I loved.

In my diary I gave a full description but I don’t think I will ever forget that time in the Chapel of Rest. The body of my dead husband is the worst thing I have ever seen in my life. It was the worst injustice. How he had done this was as valid a thought as why he had done it. The light from the ceiling made a glint on the tiniest piece of his left eye, not quite closed. After the crying and the saying goodbye I stood over him and looked him straight in that glint of an eye and said “I know you can see me”. His father kissed him on the forehead but I couldn’t touch him. It took a while to leave but the point of staying had become almost macabre. We placed a password on the viewing and decided not to go back. Luke was no longer in the slow lane and was never getting back in the car. The inquest is now on the Coroner’s desk. And we continue to wait.

 

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