Seven years today, Sally, since you left us. How can that be? Seven harrowing years of an agony that cannot be numbed and a gnawing grief that will not be silenced. Seven years living in the hope that truth will ultimately triumph over evil. Seven years fighting for the truth, accountability and justice you so deserve.
Every day without you is indescribably painful, but the days leading up to the anniversary of your death have an excrutiating poignancy that maybe only those with similar experience will truly recognise or fully understand. We think of our last holiday together in the Lake District only four weeks before you died. You loved the walking, climbing Cat Bells, the rabbits in Fitz Park and the farm cat we met on a walk around Buttermere. We remember you canoeing on Derwentwater and narrowly avoiding submerging your camera in the lake. I remember the Peach Bellini cocktails and you and I laughing until we cried. This week I have relived our trip to Burnby Hall on the 21st July 2014, four days before your death. It was a warm, sultry afternoon and you enjoyed feeding and stroking the carp. Hauntingly, that beautiful garden was our last outing together. Both that and the Lake District hold so many memories of your childhood and our time together as a family, places I am unlikely to ever be able to revisit.
The catastrophic events of your final three days on this earth and the appalling and unconscionable actions of those staff from Humber NHS Foundation Trust charged with your care, were laid bare at your inquest. There are no words that can adequately describe the cruel and inhumane response you received in your time of unimaginable distress. It is impossible for us to grasp the way you were treated by those healthcare “professionals” directly responsible for your “care” and the circumstances of your death.
In the immediacy of the chaos and pain following your death, we had no idea that details relating to your “care” in that final week and the circumstances of your death would be deliberately withheld from us or that, even as your parents, we would have to fight for the most basic information. We had no idea of the process that we would have to endure and the emotional resilience which would be required to unearth the details of the circumstances of your death, information which should have been available to us by right. We had little knowledge or insight into the immediacy and automatic cover up culture endemic in the NHS when things go wrong. We could not have imagined that despite an inquest verdict specifically citing “clinical negligence and neglect” on behalf of Humber NHSFT, we would still be waiting for a Nursing and Midwifery Council, Fitness to Practice Hearing scheduled for October this year. Similary, we could never have imagined that information would be deliberately withheld from your inquest, necessitating the tortuous process of applying to the High Court for a re-inquest, the hearing of which is yet to be listed.
There is a plethora of folklore appertaining to the aftermath of suicide. “Time is a great healer.” “You will eventually move on.” “At least they are at peace now.” “We try not to mention it as we know it will only upset you.” Myths are conveniently propagated by those who demonstrably have never experienced or contemplated the death of their child in such circumstances. The reality for us is that time does not heal. Indeed, the protracted and painful investigations into the circumstances of your death coupled with gross incompetence, deliberate obfuscation and deceit, have only served to pour salt on already gaping wounds. Similarly, there is no possibilty of “moving on” when seven years after your death, we are still waiting for the truth, accountability and justice. Sadly, very rarely now, does anyone other than our closest of friends, mention your name, Sally. The myth, that mentioning you will upset us, is false. Your memory, for us, is a constant presence. I am never anything other than delighted when others acknowledge your life, call your name and share their memories of you with us.
We are well aware that we are not alone in our grief. Your life and death touched so many others, not only close friends, but some whom you only met met fleetingly, but on whom, nevertheless, you made a lasting impression. The extent of a our grief is balanced with our enduring love for you and the impact you made on our lives
Today and every day, Sally, we think of you and wish things were different. We remember you as our much loved daughter. We remember your infectious smile and wicked sense of humour. We remember your many talents. Love, all enduring, is not diminished with the passage of time. You remain forever in our hearts. x