'It's a lonely place – I wouldn't wish it on anyone': Doreen Lawrence reveals how 19 years after her son's murder, she's still in limboSix years after Stephen's stabbing Doreen's marriage of 28 years endedShe has remained single ever since and says her health has been affected‘Our world began falling apart
from the moment the hospital staff told us our son had died,' says ex-husband Neville
12:37 GMT, 17 April 2012
This Sunday marks the 19th year since Stephen Lawrence was brutally knifed to death by a group of racist white youths on a patch of pavement in Eltham, south London.
It will also be the 13th year that his mother Doreen, 59, has spent alone, trying to come to terms the traumatic event which changed the course of her life.
She had been married for 28 years, but six years after Stephen's stabbing on April 22 1993, her relationship with Neville broke down and she now describes herself as being in 'a lonely place.'
Isolated: Doreen Lawrence has spent more than 13 years alone, trying to come to terms with her son's death
This year on January 3, the Lawrences gained some form of closure as two of Stephen's killers, Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, were sentenced for murder – described by Mr Justice Treacy as ‘a terrible and
Because both defendants were 17 and 16 at the time of the attack, they
were sentenced as juveniles, Dobson was told he would serve at least 15 years and two months while David Norris was given a minimum of 14 years. Had they been sentenced as adults, the judge said they would
have received a minimum tariff of 30 years.
But Doreen says after 18 years of living in limbo, awaiting some kind of justice, she still remains 'shell-shocked', and her health has suffered as a consequence.
'I haven't been well since the verdict: my body's been racked with pains, a physical manifestation of grief.
'I spend a lot of time on my own, living with the memories of what happened. It's a lonely place. I wouldn't wish it on anyone,' she told Grazia magazine.
Doreen and Neville Lawrence in 1993, after Stephen's murder. They divorced after the heartbreak of the murder
Memorial: The black marble plaque which marks the spot where Stephen Lawrence died in Eltham, in 1993
Doreen has also chronicled the disintegration of their relationship in painful detail in her memoir, And Still I Rise.
described how she left Neville for four days on their first Christmas
without Stephen because his behaviour was so intolerable; how they
argued bitterly over his remoteness on a trip to Jamaica to lay a
headstone on Stephen's grave.
Stephen as a teenager with his life ahead of him. It was cruelly cut short when he was murdered
And she told how he would later drift
away from his family for months at a time to stay with relatives on the
island, or in Florida, leaving her to face the inquest and continue the
work of the Stephen Lawrence Trust alone. The pair divorced in 1999 and Neville now lives in Jamaica.
Neville previously told Daily Mail writer
David Jones: ‘When Stephen was murdered, Doreen and me had been married
for more than 20 years. Things might not always have been perfect
between us, but we had a normal, loving relationship.
‘But our world began falling apart
from the moment the hospital staff told us our son had died. For some
reason that I’ve tried to understand – and I still don’t – we couldn’t
reach out to one another.
stayed together for another six years, but from that day we never
physically touched one another again. We didn’t cuddle or hold hands for
comfort, as you might expect a couple to do.
‘We would sleep in the same bed, but we lay side-by-side like statues.
took those boys ten seconds to murder Stephen. In those ten seconds
they wrecked four other lives, too: mine, Doreen’s, and Stuart and
Georgina’s (his other children, now 34 and 29 respectively).’
While her marriage fell apart, Doreen focused her efforts on helping her two other children Georgina and Stuart cope with the death of their brother, and fighting for justice.
Doreen regards as her proudest achievement the setting up of the Stephen
Lawrence Charitable Trust, which provides bursaries for youngsters from
ethnic minorities to pursue their educational ambitions.
Awarded an OBE in 2003 in recognition of her work, she says she will
continue fighting to give young men like Stephen all the opportunities
he was denied and her reputation for being a tough campaigner has won her
places on various boards advising government policy makers and senior
police officers on race relations.
This Sunday, Doreen will visit the exact spot where Stephen died, now marked with a black marble memorial plaque – something she likes to think of as a grave stone as Stephen is buried in Jamaica at a remote location in the rural highlands next to his great-grandmother.
Doreen Lawrence has made this pilgrimage every year since 1993 to lay flowers and talk to her son.
She added: 'I suppose, against such a background, that what happened with Neville, Stephen's dad, was inevitable.
'Something had to give.'
Read the full interview in this week's Grazia magazine, out now.