Jim Perrin’s ‘Terms of Bereavement’

On page 29 of West Jim Perrin gave details of a night he purported to have spent in the hospital whilst Jac was a patient there. (She had been admitted in the late Wednesday afternoon until mid-Wednesday of the next week as she was desperately ill in the final stage of her terminal cancer.) Intimate ‘details’ we could hardly believe. He told how ‘she was undisturbed after eight o’clock… Nobody arrived to tell me to leave. I crept quietly away at dawn before the routine of the hospital began.’

Today, 07/12/2015, we have spoken with a representative of the hospital concerned and asked them whether a patient in their care, so ill as our sister was, might possibly have been left, as Jim Perrin claimed, ‘undisturbed’ (that is — un-checked!) after 8pm. with no nurse even to look in on her to see if she was sleeping or if she might need some drug to alleviate pain. Could it be? We were told in no uncertain terms that this was strictly against hospital policy and they refuted entirely any suggestion that what Jim Perrin had written could possibly have taken place. The nurses on their night-duty rounds would check periodically on the state of all the patients on their wards; anyone present, not a patient, would be noticed and questioned unless previous arrangements were in place should relatives wish to stay in the hospital. This was not the case with Jim Perrin. Apart from his habitual aptitude for invention his statement that Jac was left ‘undisturbed’ (actually, unattended!) from 8pm. until dawn, was a dreadful slur on the nurses who at that time were caring for her so tenderly.

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And when, on the 11th of May, and nothing Jim Perrin could say to her or write about her, could hurt her further — (please see our posts  Jim Perrin writes to our sister;  writes to her again; and writes more of the same. ) he, arriving so late at the hospital that even the nurses were querying his long delay, and heedless of others, particularly her young daughter, flung himself on Jac’s bed with a great show of much hysterical, howling, out-pouring of grief. We would not be so unkind as to suggest that it was an entirely insincere demonstration? — surely he must have felt the tragedy of his loss? (Although, that very night, he was informing Jac’s children he intended to take over the tenancy of their home! — having lived there himself for the last year or so. It was only two days later that he appeared to remember that this had been ‘their mother’s dying wish’…  see Jim Perrin plans a régime change. Not only that, but shortly after, and even before Jac’s funeral ceremony — when he realised he would not achieve his goal of staying in the house — he demanded of Jac’s children a sum of £3,000 to £4,000. ‘It was only fair’ he said; as well as the exchange, to his advantage, of their mother’s vehicle with his own. His terms, as it were, and in his own words: ‘For me to move on.’)

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But, and how extraordinary this was, and how difficult to comprehend, it is what followed Jim Perrin’s late arrival, which shook us. At the time we were so greatly disturbed by the incident that it has, until now, been almost impossible to write of it.

One of our family was taken to the hospital at 7am. that morning and was able to be with her sister for five hours before she died: by the time of which we now write it was past six o’clock in the evening and all those family and close friends who had been able to come, some from far distant parts of the country, had arrived, including, finally, Jim Perrin.

Throughout the long day the nursing staff had been in every way considerate and kindly. There had been eleven of us gathered in the rest room next door to Jac’s and trying to come to terms with the trauma that bereavement brings; going back, and again, into her room to say farewell to her and trying in the meantime to support and give comfort to each other. Occasionally nurses would look around the door and, finally, it was tactfully suggested that perhaps it was time to leave her. They could not have been  more tactful and clearly to stay longer would have been inconsiderate and would have inconvenienced the staff, with all that they now needed to do for our sister.

In attempting to console Jim Perrin we put our arms around him before leaving him alone in Jac’s room. After an interval, and bearing in mind the nurses’ necessity to attend to Jac, we thought at last to gather together her personal things. We had tried to leave it as long as possible for his sake as he had come so very late, and had been unable to spend as much time with her as we had ourselves. Now, gently and quietly, almost apologetic in her presence — still hardly believing what we knew we must believe — we were making the necessary preparations to leave her.

As one of us was about to empty a bedside cabinet she turned towards Jim Perrin. He, his exaggerated episode of grief displayed and spent, and to her appalled and utter disbelief, was sitting next to Jac’s bed and calmly scanning a copy of that day’s paper, The Guardian, which for convenience of reading he had fully opened against the lifeless form of our sister…  It may be imagined of course how extremely shocking this was, so completely  unbelievable; and adding to the distress of previously witnessing her sister’s last hours his unfeeling action left her virtually speechless — she managing only: ‘Oh Jim, how could you?’… At this, and making no response, with the utmost calm he merely folded his newspaper, went without a glance from Jac’s side, and left the room.

Jim Perrin’s unnerving and complete switch from a state of loud hysteria and extravagant show of emotion to one of apparent calm and disconnection — his absolute lack of empathy — in such a short space of time, barely minutes, is quite simply unforgettable. It was something so bizarre and unaccountable. Certainly we cannot believe it to be the behaviour of someone who is an entirely normal and balanced individual. In fact it is our own opinion that it was not… We have said elsewhere that in our opinion ‘he is a hollow man’ — and one who, lacking genuine empathy, is well-practised in ‘acting the part’ — although no doubt we may be disbelieved by his aficionados for saying so; he can be so entirely convincing.

We would only ask that the events which we have described above are seriously considered: and we give those who are reading this post the solemn assurance that these details, as we have recounted them, are, as is said: ‘The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’. We have been recalling the most sensitive issue of our sister’s death and the immediate aftermath, and would scorn to lie or embellish. (Directly contrary to the false accounts which Jim Perrin gave… )

NB. We would like to say that, unlike Jim Perrin, we have ‘fictionalised’ not one single element of this post, nor indeed in any of the posts on our site. We have ‘invented’ nothing — neither a small piece nor ‘wholly’; lied about nothing or quoted nothing inaccurately. We have written with the full co-operation of all those most nearly concerned and have left out, despite the horrors in the latest post, much which is of too sensitive a nature to disclose. (And the quoted words in this paragraph are Jim Perrin’s own. Ref. Jim Perrin’s qualified grief.)

Jac’s sisters.