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7/7 Five years on

Anat Rosenberg was talking to her partner on the phone as she rode a London bus, when she died five years ago today. Anat was one of 52 innocent people who lost her life in a bomb blast on a day that affected many.

I was only a bystander caught up in the chaotic but also strangely calm, aftermath of events on 7 July, 2005. I was late for work and could well have been on or near the Circle line train that exploded at 8.50am. When I reached Holborn, all trains were suspended and I was seething about London Underground’s typical, below par service. Yet, there was a feeling of dread on that brilliantly sunny day. Something was going on. I remember thinking that this was not just about bad service on the London Underground.

When I talked to my boss, he confirmed that it was a terrorist attack. Then all I could think of was the people crammed into a Tube carriage, on their way to work, just like me, who were now dead or injured.

It’s been five years and there have been inquiries conducted, articles written, memorials erected and tributes paid. All these things go some way towards dealing with the trauma of that day. But how does one cope with the grief of losing a loved one, being psychologically traumatised or having an injury from that day? Coping is often a process experienced in private. American psychiatrist, author and trauma expert, Judith Herman, says trauma makes one feel a loss of control and a lack of connection and meaning to the world. Recovery is trying to get that back. The deeper the trauma, the more difficult the recovery. It is also unique for every individual depending on their experiences, situations, personalities and their support systems.

When marking the fifth anniversary of her death, John Falding, partner of Anat, told The Guardian: “It’s pretty distressing. Everyone looks at their watches, waiting for the exact moment, like a countdown to new year in reverse, though obviously not a joyous occasion. You look, and then you see at that moment they were alive. And then they weren’t.”

Factually and intellectually, it’s easy to grasp the cold, hard facts. But emotionally, it’s the hardest part of loss for anyone, especially if it was sudden. Some pull out the old clichés, “time heals all wounds” or “time heals what reason cannot”. Well, maybe it can but there’s no guarantee. It also depends very much on what you do with that time. After all, for a lot of us, it can take years to even accept that dark things happen on the sunniest days.


About Herpreet Kaur Grewal

Herpreet Kaur Grewal is a newspaper-trained journalist, editor and commentator. She formerly wrote and edited a section for the social policy and politics magazine Regeneration & Renewal. She has worked for The Times of London and her articles have featured in The Guardian, The Observer and The Daily Express. She specialises in social deprivation issues, gender, human rights , arts and culture.


3 thoughts on “7/7 Five years on

  1. >Strong Herpreet!, made me think about how life is a gift and how we should embrace it every day. You have magic powers, Alfonso

    Posted by Alfonso | July 8, 2010, 05:09
  2. >Didn't this happen right before (as in days before) the IOC made its decision to award the 2012 Summer Games to London?Anyway, reading your piece brought back memories of being several blocks away from the WTC on 9/11 – hope that you (and everyone else) never have to experience something like that again.

    Posted by Scott | October 26, 2010, 03:43
  3. >Yes the bombings occurred the day after the Olympic decision, so the country was all set to celebrate but then disaster struck… Very sad and shocking being caught up in all that, going from exhilaration to horrific shock, as I am sure you know from your WTC experience. Thanks for reading though.

    Posted by Herpreet Kaur Grewal | January 2, 2011, 03:11

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Herpreet Kaur Grewal is an editor and journalist currently based in London.

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