A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
My wife was killed twenty-five months ago today, and since that day, despite the fact that I have unashamedly spoken out about my grief, I have remained respectfully tight-lipped about what I believed to be its cause. Well, this afternoon an elderly gentlemen was charged with causing her death by dangerous driving. What follows is my statement and, with respect, it is all I wish to say on the matter for now.
What happened on 10 November 2012 was no doubt a tragedy for all parties involved and no result from the subsequent trial could ever possibly have remedied the pain felt by its many victims. Between us all we have suffered the loss of family; physical and mental injury; the demise of health; the pain and confusion of grief; and the consequences, one would assume, of feelings of guilt.
However, I can only speak with absolutely confidence of the way my family and I have felt over the past two years.
The process and timescale of this trial, I believe, were lengthened and made more complex and painful by the sheer number of obstacles placed in the way of the prosecution. It is my personal view that this would have all been over sooner had such obstructions been avoided.
I, of course, have no doubt that the defendant suffered – and is indeed still suffering – as a consequence of his undoubtedly unanticipated actions. That said, in my view, and judging by the degree of decency with which I was raised, at no time have we – my family and I – been shown any true signs of remorse or consideration through the defendant’s approach to this trial.
Perhaps remorse will follow, perhaps it won’t. For now, though, my family’s priority is to move past the damage caused, and to continue to do everything we can to support one another.
We especially intend to do our utmost to minimise the anguish and confusion suffered by my little boy, a four-year-old child who lost his mother through an act of dangerous driving when he had only just turned two.
I can wholeheartedly say that I can forgive an accident that happened that night in November 2012. Right now, however, I’m finding it very difficult to imagine how I’ll ever forget the lengths that I believe have been taken to try to avoid this case being heard in a timely and appropriate fashion. A case that could perhaps (in my mind at least) have concluded so much sooner and with so much more compassion, had it been handled more sensitively and with even the slightest degree of contrition.
With that very sentiment in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many thousands of people who have indeed shown my family and me compassion, as well as sympathy, empathy and seemingly boundless support.
I don’t wish to spend the rest of my days shouldering the burden that can come with bitterness and anger. Instead I offer my heart to all of those who may be suffering in a similar way to my family, my friends and myself.
The final thing I wish to say is this: confusion killed my wife. The inability of an 83-year-old driver to distinguish the accelerator from the break of a car that he had been driving for over thirty years is the reason why my son will grow up without his mother.
Perhaps he had never had a motoring accident or incident before; perhaps his license was clean. But perhaps it is also time for us to question how fit certain individuals are to be on the road.
I appeal to anyone who might be concerned that it is time for their elderly or infirm friends or relatives to stop driving not to delay. I appeal to you all to do something about it before it’s too late. And when considering their potential risk on the road, it should not be about the manner with which they have generally operated a vehicle under low-stress conditions over a number of decades, but rather the response rates that they are likely to be able to apply when something actually goes wrong.
Perhaps they make you coffee when you asked for tea from time to time. Maybe they leave cat food out for the dog. Perhaps they have to run through half a dozen names before they finally land on yours. Maybe there are a number of so-called ‘senior moments’ that often evoke a smile.
Well I can tell you one thing for sure: it’s hard to smile when an 83-year-old man confuses an accelerator for a break and in doing so kills your 33-year-old wife.
The fact is the defendant had a clean driving licence at the time and with that came his right to drive. But evidently rights can sometimes cause wrongs. And sadly for my family this wrong can never, ever be put right.
For now I have nothing else to add. I just ask that my family and I are given a little space to try to recover from what we’ve been put through over the past two years.
Thank you all very much.