It’s always that bit harder to tell someone that their loved one has been killed at Christmas time.
You walk up the driveway; see the decorations up, the lights on, and the presents under the tree – all wrapped up for a person who is never going to come home to open them.
One of my first jobs as a family liaison officer happened a week before Christmas.
A man was walking home when he was hit by a car and died instantly.
His wife thought it was him returning home when the door went, she thought he’d forgotten his key. But he hadn’t, it was me, about to change her life forever with the tragic news her husband was dead.
Her main concern was how to tell their grandchildren. How do you tell children that their granddad is no longer coming to Christmas dinner, and that he’ll never be at Christmas dinner ever again.
This was a week before Christmas. The week after Christmas I returned to the house to break some more news. The man hadn’t died in a road accident – he’d been killed. At the hands of a drink driver.
His wife told me it was almost like being told he’d been killed all over again.
It’s hard enough to process that someone you love has died in an accident, let alone to hear they’ve been killed at the hands of a drink driver. Someone who has chosen intentionally to drink and then get behind the wheel.
It’s very difficult not to show my emotions when a family vocalises how angry they are at the drink driver. But I have to remain impartial while the court case is on-going, I can’t put my emotions on to them.
The driver was prosecuted and jailed.
But that doesn’t make up for the pain and heartache the family will have to live with for the rest of their lives. Every time December rolls round, they’ll be reminded of that fateful day when their lives were changed forever.
This year a child will have to open their presents without their dad there to watch.
A mother will eat Christmas dinner with an empty space at the table where her daughter should be.
A husband will spend Christmas morning at the grave instead of at home with his wife.
A granddad won’t get to see his grandchild grown up.
A colleague will leave the office for the day but not make it home.
All because of people who think they can get away with having a couple of drinks and driving.
So if you’re going out tonight and planning on drinking, please, please leave your keys at home.
It’s not worth it.
PC Sam Sparkes is a family liaison officer with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Roads Policing Unit.