Far from being a day off, today has been a day of people telling me stories. The stories concern a larger-than-life 25 year-old whose funeral I will be conducting on Thursday. Stories of a young lad who had not long emerged from a Treatment Centre where he was addressing addiction issues and trying, like mad, to get his life sorted. It looked as if he was managing fine, and his sudden death was a tremendous shock to all who knew and loved him.
All so tragic so far, and a funeral that nobody is particularly looking forward to. However, especially at St. Aug's we deal with that sort of stuff and even manage to try to talk about redemption in the midst of it.
The young man died in Aviemore, far from home, where he was trying to make a new life for himself. My gripe is about the shocking way that the mother of this lad was treated by the constabulary up north. The identifying of the body was done in a way that no parent should be subjected to, and the mother herself, in interview, treated as if she were a drug misuser herself, or at best someone who was responsible for her son's lifestyle. I'm glad to say that even the cops in Dumbarton seem to be embarrassed by the way this was handled.
A police force is no use to us unless it can show compassion, especially in the face of tragedy. That's something that should be incorporated into police training if it's not already there. Whatever the circumstances, the grief of a mother should be dealt with in a way that she feels supported and affirmed. A policeman, especially from the higher ranks, should both know this and practice it.