I have done many. None have been easy or straightforward and none have failed to leave some mark on me.
I have had numerous reactions from ‘and?’ to crying, screaming, fighting and refusal to believe.
One sticks in my memory in particular.
My partner and I were called in to pick up the message. We knew it was going to be a death message because of the vocal tone of the controller and the fact we were called in-we weren’t normally allowed inside unless we had a PIC.
We drove to the address, a ordinary council house in a poor but working neighbourhood.
As it was 0200-hrs we knew what to expect.
The door was opened by mum in a dressing gown. I will never forget that look when I said, ”Can we come in please ma’am?”
She called upstairs to ‘dad’ and we all went into the kitchen to wait for him.
The lady said nothing, but didn’t take her eyes off me for a second. She just stared at us and I instictively knew what she must be thinking, ‘which one of my kids is dead?’. I continued to stare back trying to give her strength whilst we waited…
Dad came in and sat down. Silent at first then he said, ”Just tell us mate…”
I felt a hand in mine. It was my partner. She must have sensed what I was feeling.
I told them that their eldest of 4-children, a 23-year old male, had thrown himself out the window of his flat. His 12-story flat.
They sat there as if they didn’t quite believe it.
Dad said, ”why officer?”
I replied that we didn’t know and there was no note.
Mum asked me for a favour. ”Will you help us tell the rest of the kids?…I can’t face it.”
We did 3-more messages that night.
When we got back to the nick, word had spread about the job and we were called into the gaffers office. He sat us down with a brew and, after hearing what we did, sent us home early.
Only telling a couple their 18-year old son was dead from a bike crash was worse.
These are the jobs that never leave you.