Telling stories helped us cope with tragedy
My brother was murdered by his kidnappers in Nigeria after a ten-month ordeal. Our family is close and have dealt with tragedy before but it does not prepare you to deal with such a horrific event.
Chris was kidnapped from his home in Nigeria on 12 May in 2011 along with a colleague Franco Lamolinara. He had moved to work in Nigeria as a quantity surveyor nine months previously. He was working in the north of the country, a mainly Islamic area but one which up until that point was quite stable.
The following ten months were a horrific blend of panic and confusion. We had little or no information about his condition and while the Foreign Office were doing all that they could they did not know where he was nor give us any reassurances.
We had each other during this period and there were some positive times through the ordeal. We would have a gathering where all of our and Chris’s friends and family would come round to the house on the 12th of each month – the anniversary of his kidnapping. We would talk about Chris, how he would be coping, how much he would hate all of the fuss we were making, what he would be like when he got home. We would tell stories of his life.
Chris’s story ended tragically, one event hundreds of kilometres from where he was being held set in motion a chain reaction which led to his murder during a rescue attempt.
While his story ended in tragedy, his life was full of love, fun, adventure and bravery. The story of his death was not the story of his life. The tales we told each other on the 12th, the memories of the times we shared, they make up the true story of how he lived his life.
I wanted that story to be told, his life to be remembered rather than his death. I looked into online memorial websites as an option for doing this but could not find one which seemed to fit the bill. I wanted a QR code to put on a memorial bench as well so that people visiting would be able to find out about his life as well as his death.
I created Always Remembered – Online Memorial Website to tell Chris’s story and offer the same to other families who wanted to share the story of their loved one. Last weekend was the two-year anniversary of his death. The sound of his laugh is now just a memory, but it is a memory which makes me smile.