Caroline’s experience was rather different. She was brought face to face with death when she was involved in a fatal car accident. Her friend who was driving at the time was killed outright whilst Caroline escaped unhurt. She found the reality of this difficult to assimilate and felt a sense of guilt.
For a long time after the accident – several months – I kept replaying it over and over again in my mind and working out how it could have been avoided – then realising nothing could change what had happened. I also regretted very much not seeing Helen’s body – I didn’t want to impose on her family at the time, but really wanted to say goodbye to her. My last sight of her was just her back slumped over the steering wheel in the dark. She was already dead then. I think I knew she was badly hurt if not actually dead immediately – when I got out of the car to get help I left my bag in the car. People thought it was shock, but actually it was because I felt I was abandoning her by leaving so I left my bag to show I was coming back. The police gave me the bag later – I still wish I had seen her again. I think it would have helped me come to terms with her dying while I walked away unhurt if I had sat with her or seen her body later – part of me still feels I ran away. I also have a good feeling now that she has become part of my life – not that I am living for her, but that somehow I still carry a little of her life, even perhaps just remembering her and having been the last person to see her alive.