When a tv show has the ability to break you…

This isn’t the blog post that I intended to write tonight. In fact, I had no plans to write this specific blog post, but sometimes, something happens, and you have to throw your actual plans out of the window. This is what happened to me tonight.

A little later than planned, I sat down to watch the latest episode of EastEnders, my favourite soap opera. I knew that tonight’s episode was to be a special one, with the funeral of one of the characters; a young boy named Shakil.

A few weeks ago, the character of Shakil was stabbed, along with his best friend, in a storyline by the soap to highlight the far reaching effects of knife crime.

I must admit, that although I knew that knife crime happens, living in a relatively rural area, it isn’t something that has really touched my life before. A fact that I am immensely thankful for.

Tonight though, Eastenders really opened my eyes; not to the fact that knife crime happens, but to the impact it has on not only the family, but the wider community as a whole.

In this episode, interspersed with the storyline itself, were real life accounts from real families, now living with the lifelong effects of knife crime. Unlike the characters in the tv show, these people will go home to a life minus children, brothers, family members. These people live with the aching loss portrayed so powerfully on screen by Bonnie Langford who plays Shakil’s mother.

The episode closed with the singing of the hymn “Abide With Me”, sung very softly and quietly, with true life accounts from these brave people who were willing to open up their wounds and relive that pain all over again, in the hopes of raising awareness and preventing what happened to them, from happening to anyone else.

As the camera panned out, away from the graveyard, we see all of these people; this brave new cast; standing there, framing the cemetary, all holding framed photographs of the loved ones they have lost.

There were so many of them. So many lives impacted. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that they must feel every day. Death is hard to come to terms with at the best of times, but to lose someone that you love in such a pointless, futile way must be an unimaginable torture that I pray I never have to feel.

And the overwhelming message from all of these accounts?

“When you choose to carry a knife, it is not going to protect you, and you are taking someone else’s life in your hands”

Nothing I can say will ever do the storyline any justice, so, please, just go and see for yourselves. Watch this excerpt from twitter.

This broke me. Totally. The acting by the official cast and crew was stellar, and to the brave families who were prepared to re-live that hell, I thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes and allowing me to see a small snippet of your grief.

To anyone reading this, who may be (or is considering) carrying a knife. Please, don’t. Shakil is a fictional character, but the people in the photographs held by grieving (because this kind of grief will never fade) loved ones, are real. They are gone; and the pain left by their loss reaches far throughout their circle. Don’t think you are protecting yourself by carrying a knife, because in the end, you are the one who will end up hurting someone else.

So, thank you, EastEnders. You deserve an award for tonight’s episode; and for dealing with the issue in such a sensitive and impactful way.

Li Carter is a writer, artist and crafter. She lives in South Wales, UK, with her family, and five rescue dogs. She’s on Twitter @rbcreativeli , Facebook: Rainbow Butterfly Creative, and Instagram @rainbowbutterflycreative and is the author of My Only True Friend: The Beginning. She is currently working on a new series titled The QuickSilver Chronicles. She is the original Rainbow Butterfly, and wants to fill an ever darkening world with a little bit of beauty and creativity.


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