The loss of a loved one to accident or illness is heartbreaking, but the devastation is exacerbated when the loss is due to a traumatic crime. The horribleness of the death amplifies the grief of the surviving loved ones and forever scars their memories of the beloved victim. All too often, when an individual succumbs to a violent death, the person is remembered for how they died rather than for how they lived.
The families of murder victims face many unique struggles in their process of bereavement. A sense of loss of control is common, and the suddenness of the death is so overwhelming that, for a period of time, families are often incapable of processing through the grief. For these individuals, dealing with spiritual beliefs, attitudes toward life, and general physical health may hold special importance.
The victim’s family and loved ones should understand that they don’t have to suffer alone; there are many experts who can guide them through the process of coping with grief associated with murder, as well as lead them toward recovery. Begin a search with one’s local police or sheriff’s department. Ask if their staff can provide contact information for a local grief counselor who specializes in victim services. Additionally, consider the following questions and suggestions:
How Can I Help Myself?
• Keep a journal; sometimes it is helpful to write down in words what you are feeling and thinking.
• Talk about your loved one, if you would like to do so. Although it may be painful, it can help you heal.
• Take time to participate in a familiar activity with your family. This helps to provide stability when your world is feeling chaotic.
• Join a support group; people often respond that becoming involved in bereavement groups
helped them through their loss and strengthened their relationships with others.
• Seek therapy when you, or others close to you, feel that your grief is becoming too difficult to bear, or is too prolonged.