The sister of murdered MP Jo Cox has said she has not yet fully come to terms with her death or had time to grieve – and revealed she does not give her killer a second thought.
Kim Leadbeater described the 12 months since her older sister was killed as a “constant rollercoaster” that has not allowed her time to sit back and process her emotions.
While she has occasionally found herself sobbing in the middle of the night, Ms Leadbeater said she and her family have been buoyed by an outpouring of support from across the country and around the world.
She said: “That doesn't mean we don't have days where it really can be a struggle to keep going, but so far we're managing. One thing that drives you is thinking what Jo would want you to do, and Jo wouldn't want this to take any more from us than it already has done. I keep trying to remember that.”
Ms Cox was shot and stabbed on 16 June last year as she arrived for a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, just 13 months after being elected as Labour MP for Batley and Spen constituency.
Right-wing loner Thomas Mair was given a whole life term after being convicted of her murder at the Old Bailey in November.
To mark the anniversary of her murder, thousands of people will take part in an event called The Great Get Together this weekend, coming together to enjoy small picnics and community events across the UK.
Throwing herself into its organisation has been a salve for Ms Leadbeater, 41, but she is aware there are still difficult roads ahead.
She said: “I don't think I've grieved at all yet, if I'm quite honest. Since Jo was murdered, there has been no time because of the public nature of how it happened, because of Jo's position that she was in – it's been a constant rollercoaster
“I know all the facts, I know what happened, I sat through the trial – I've got all that information, but have I actually processed that and understood what that means for the rest of my life?
“No, I don't think I have, and I think that's going to take a long time, an awfully long time.”
When The Great Get Together – also a celebration of the MP's ardent belief that people have more in common than the things dividing them – is over, Ms Leadbeater has promised to allow herself the time to begin processing what has happened to her family.
She said: “There's a lot of stuff that I still haven't dealt with, and I guess that's where maybe counselling or some advice on how to cope with that would come in.
“We have been so busy focusing on creating a legacy for Jo, which is exactly what we want to do, but that has to slow down at some point.
“I've had moments. I've broken down in tears at the traffic lights and I remember sitting on the steps at home at 4 o'clock in the morning just uncontrollably crying.
“But they have actually been quite sporadic and I think I need a bit more time to really understand what's happened.”
Ms Leadbeater said her sister's murder has drawn the family closer.
She said: “We've come together stronger than ever, [Ms Cox's widower] Brendan has just been amazing and the way he's looked after the children, I've got so much respect for him and so much love for him.
“So we've got each other, and we've come together, and that's been really really helpful.”
She is philosophical about her sister's death, saying that while they were “extremely, unbelievably unlucky” to have such evil forces “conspire” against them, “the reality is, the way that the world is at the moment, bad things do happen”.
She said: “You couldn't have foreseen it. No one knew that was going to happen, but then that happens to people all the time, with the bombings and the terror attacks in recent years.
“I think that will take a lot of understanding, but what you have to then do is think actually the majority of people are good people, and we have just been unbelievably unlucky that our life has been affected by somebody who wasn't a good person.
“But you have to try and move forward from that and focus on how most people are actually really good and really kind.”
And Ms Leadbeater said she does not waste a moment of her time thinking about Mair or the trial, describing it as a “job” the family had to go through.
She said: “I haven't thought about it since and I don't intend to think about it.
“The energy that I've got will be channelled into creating a positive legacy for Jo, rather than thinking about how she died. We will really, really focus on how she lived.”
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