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.