1 June 2024

Linda Allan and husband Stuart Allan photographed by Sarah Booker for SoulsINQUEST.

Grief has been described as an earthquake, the initial devastation followed by a lifetime of aftershocks. The death of a child is something no one ever wants to think about. It is the ultimate fear of every parent. Losing a child to suicide, whilst in prison, adds so many layers of devastation. Life becomes about survival – from the grief, the world of injustice, and state sanctioned violence. 

Almost six years have passed since we last saw our daughter. We have learned to survive and to fight. There are still moments that simply take our breath away. However, the pain is now balanced with the times when we’ve experienced the best of human nature, the compassionately empathetic: the love. SoulsINQUEST has been one such experience. 

We were humbled to participate strengthened by the stories from other warrior families and comforted by the shared understanding. Most of all, spending time with Sarah Booker, a force of compassionate creativity, was special. Sarah’s willingness to get to know us, our son, and Katie’s life and spirit gave us hope. 

Sharing Katie’s life, who she was and who she might have been, was so cathartic. So often, when a life is lost at the hands of the state, the focus is on the death, the fight for justice, and the pain. SoulsINQUEST offered us a different journey, a place to share our ‘before’. 

SoulsINQUEST is a unique exhibition featuring the loved ones we’ve lost and the steely determination of some of the strongest families I have ever met. The exhibition foregrounds the strength of individuals who are ‘bearing the unbearable’. 

Linda and Stuart Allan photographed by Sarah Booker for SoulsINQUEST.

We have fought hard for almost six years seeking justice for Katie’s death. We also remember 16 year old William Lindsay, who died in the same prison and the same year as our Katie. Until now, we have mostly kept our personal grief separate from our campaigning, so sacred was that space. Being involved in SoulsINQUEST and meeting other families has taught me that both are not necessarily parallel, but rather, interconnected like a DNA double helix.  

We met grief on the 4 of June 2018. Like an earthquake, the ground beneath us opened to a place where time had no relevance. Our sense of the world shifted, and nothing felt, smelt, appeared, or tasted the same. 

As time passed and pieces of memories peppered with fear, trauma, and hopelessness re-emerged, the aftershocks began as the permanence of Katie's death began to sink into our core. They continue in a variety of magnitudes to this day.  

However, as I look back I have a sense of gratitude as we were lucky: we found INQUEST. Despite INQUEST not working in Scotland, from the very first days they helped us to navigate the darkness. I vividly remember my first telephone conversation, when I was so desperate for answers, INQUEST gently leading me to a place where I had the permission to grieve. It wasn’t until the SoulsINQUEST project that we also discovered the connections with other INQUEST families and collective healing. 

I can say today that happiness, joy, and laughter can co-exist with grief, tears, and pain. We have learnt that we can carry our grief, with all its ebbing and flowing, and fully inhabit it. We have learned that we feel this extraordinary grief because of our extraordinary love.  

SoulsINQUEST embodies our extraordinary grief and love. With fierce compassion, from the genesis of loss, the exhibition mourns those we love and lost in life. Meeting other families who, like us, have deeply suffered and understand life in a way that others cannot has strengthened our belief that the only way to attain authentic and lasting contentment is to extend compassion outward, to raise fists high, and stand strong against those who would try to take what is rightfully ours. 

Thank you to Sarah, Naomi, Lucy, Mo, Debs and all the warrior families for allowing us to share Katie with you. 

INQUEST and families at SoulsINQUEST exhibition in Glasgow. From left to right: Naomi Oppenheim and Deborah Coles of INQUEST, brother-in-law and sister of Sheku Bayoh, Adeyemi Johnson and Kadi Johsnon, Sarah Booker, Linda Allan, and Kelly Hartigan Burns' mother and brother, June and Stuart Hartigan.

To finish, a poem from Dr J Cacciatore, from her book “Grieving is Loving.” 

For Those Who Grieve

May you rise strong out of the ashes

With the fire of loss in your belly

and the tenderness of love guiding your heart.


May you carry that love with the ferocity of a warrior,

a love of extraordinary force that knows no boundaries,

no limits.

May you bravely face the questions of others

who do not and cannot know,

And with a mighty voice speak your truth,

And with quivering legs stand tall

And despite the fear in your heart,

May you turn towards your own sage soul with reluctant trust.


May you feel held by the arms of others

who have known this loss through history.

And may the wisdom of the ages carry you in solidarity

through all the dark nights you will face.


And when you fall, may you fall back into the shadow

with compassion, courage

and the resolve to rise again.

And again. And again.

uses photography, writing and materials from the INQUEST archive as a lens onto state violence, death, grief and resistance. A collaboration between bereaved families, Sarah Booker and INQUEST, it is a powerful act of defiance in response to decades of injustice.  


Founded in 1981 by bereaved families and campaigners, INQUEST is the only organisation in England and Wales that provides a specialist, comprehensive advice service on contentious state related deaths and their investigation. In recent years, INQUEST has been supporting the families of Katie Allan and Sheku Bayoh in Scotland as part of a wider examination of post-death processes in the UK.  


Thanks to the support of Platform, and our sponsors Aamer Anwar and Co, we are touring this exhibition to Glasgow.

The exhibition is open to the public from Friday 10 May – 29 June and is part of Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Art 2024.

On 19 June, at 3.30pm, INQUEST will be screening 'The UK is not Innocent: the story of INQUEST', followed by a Q&A session, and at 6pm a panel discussion on deaths in custody in Scotland with lawyer Aamer Anwar, Deborah Coles, and researchers from the Scottish Centre of Crime and Justice studies. 

INQUEST’s vision is to end deaths caused by unsafe systems of detention and care, use of force and institutional failure. 


We are completely independent of government and entirely reliant on grants and donations to continue our vital work.   


Support us and bereaved families in the fight for truth, justice and accountability by becoming a regular donor today.