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Bereaved by Road Traffic Incident

It is a profound and devastating shock to be told that our child has been involved in a road traffic incident. Our grief may be particularly intense because it was such a sudden and traumatic death, and also because of the additional legal processes.

A road incident could be a result of random circumstances or somebody might be at fault. Our child may have died immediately or at a later time. There might be other casualties, and we ourselves could have suffered a life-changing injury.

If we were not present at the incident, it is likely to be the police who inform us of what has taken place. Even though we are devastated by this news, we will have some urgent tasks to take care of, such as informing other family members and relevant agencies, and then making arrangements for our child’s funeral. This might be delayed if there is a post-mortem examination. It is also possible we will be facing an inquest in the near future.

It is important not to feel as though we need to manage all of this alone. There are other parents within The Compassionate Friends who have gone through similar tragedies, and there are some organisations that support those bereaved in this way. The police should also supply us with a Family Liaison Officer.

Taking care of ourselves

The trauma of our child’s death could affect our health and we will need to make special effort to take care of ourselves.

Many of us find it alarming to travel on the roads after our child’s death, especially if our journey takes us close to the scene of the incident. Hopefully as time goes by, the intensity of our feelings will reduce.

We will also need to deal with our feelings towards anyone person(s) responsible for the incident, whether it was someone else, our child, or even ourselves. Because this can be quite complex, those of us bereaved in this way often find that we benefit from some outside support such as counselling.

Finding our way forward might include creating a focus for good memories of our child or perhaps eventually becoming involved with appropriate road safety campaigns.

Most of us find that the pain of grief does evolve, and over time we will find ourselves beginning to make adjustments and re-build our lives. We never stop loving our child, and very slowly our good memories will hopefully become a source of comfort and strength.

You can read more about this topic, including information about the legal processes, in our leaflet When our Child has Died Following a Road Incident.

You can find more information about legal processes here including the supportive leaflet Coping With Legal Processes Following the Death of our Child.

This section for siblings gives further information about support available after the death of a brother or sister.

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Each year thousands of parents suffer the loss of a son or a daughter. Please help us to support families in their time of greatest need.

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