Listening to Young People in School, Youth Work, and Counselling

By Nick Luxmoore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Accidents
What Happens in School When There
Are No Answers

Elaine and Assia were running across the main road one night when a car hit and killed Elaine. Weeks later, a coroner concluded that Elaine’s death had been an accident.

Now Assia sits opposite me in a counselling room. She’s thirteen. It’s almost a year since her friend was killed. She can’t stop feeling guilty, she says. Last week she cut her wrist and had to go to hospital. If, as the coroner said, what happened wasn’t the driver’s fault and wasn’t her fault and wasn’t Elaine’s fault, then whose fault was it?

In blaming herself, Assia actually makes a kind of sense of what happened. If she’d been looking out for Elaine they’d have seen the car coming and the accident wouldn’t have happened. Someone must have been to blame - otherwise, it doesn’t make sense; otherwise, it was an accident and that’s actually the worst thought because that means anything could happen. Assia winces. ‘That’s pointless,’ she says, and then, ‘I definitely should have seen the car.’

To believe that accidents really do happen is extremely hard. It means all sorts of things. It means that certain things in our lives just happen; that, despite our best attempts, ultimately we can’t control the world or the future. Perhaps hardest and most disturbingly of all, it means we can’t control death, which in turn

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