If you have witnessed or have information regarding a murder, please contact your local police or call 911 immediately.
Murder, also known as homicide, is the unlawful killing of another human being with malicious forethought. According to the 2009 United States Crime Report, there were over 15,000 murders in the United States. That leaves a lot of family members, friends, and acquaintances behind to deal with the aftermath of questions, investigations, trials, and grief.
A murder survivor is someone who has lost someone they dearly loved to homicide. This type of loss can be devastating.
Losing a loved one or a friend to homicide is one of the most traumatic events one can experience. Hopefully these murders are solved, but most times there are still so many loose ends and questions that complicate the grieving process.
Complications During the Grieving Process:
Survivors of murder victims are more likely to experience and struggle with deeper levels of shock, denial, and anger over the death as compared to most other types of loss. After all, these deaths are sudden and unexpected, not to mention violent in nature. These feelings can further be aggravated by:
- Feelings of guilt for not being able to protect their loved one
- Worry/fear for the family's safety if the murderer is not caught or is paroled
- Media involvement or sensationalism
- Reliving the death during criminal investigation, trials, and/or parole hearings
- Frustration with the legal system or authorities, particularly if the murderer is not identified or the punishment is less than what was hoped for
- Community curiosity regarding the details of the murder
- Mental health issues such as Depression, Trauma processing, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Coming to terms with the death of a loved one due to murder can be a long and complicated process. The following can be helpful after the loss of a loved one:
- Reach out to friends, family, church groups, community groups
- Write about the loss
- Acknowledge your feelings
- Practice good self care - shower, eat regular meals, get exercise, etc.
- Avoid placing a time limit on your grief - everyone has a different timeline that is unique to their individual situation and lost loved one
- Seek grief counseling with a therapist specializing in grief after murder
- Join a support group specifically aimed at survivors of murder victims
The Mayo Clinic offers tips on coping with reminders of the deceased after a loss.
Family & Friends of Violent Crime Victims provides a toll free 24-hour crisis hotline staffed by trained advocates at 800-346-7555, as well as other helpful information and resources.
National Center for Victims of Crimes is an organization dedicated to helping crime victims rebuild and reclaim their lives.
Justice for Murdered Children is a non-profit advocacy group that also provides support for families of victims and aims to prevent murders.
National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, Inc. offers a support group, educational information, advocacy, prevention, and awareness for murdered children.
The National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Programs provides a program directory to help families and victims identify resources in their states for obtaining compensation for the costs associated with crime.
The UK site KnifeCrimes.org provides help and support to families and friends affected by violent crime or bereaved as a result of murder or manslaughter.
Support After Murder and Manslaughter is a UK charity that provides support for grieving families.
A Grief Like No Other: Surviving the Violent Death of Someone You Love - Kathleen O'Hara
Coping with Traumatic Death: Homicide - Bob Baugher
After a Murder: A Workbook for Grieving Kids - The Dougy Center