WHEN A LOVED ONE IS MURDERED
Facing the death of a loved one is never easy. When murder occurs, pain, anger, and grief are compounded by the crushing realization that a precious life was intentionally taken. Adding to the family's trauma are intrusions into their grief. Police, lawyers, and others need information, evidence and testimony. The media often focus on the victim without consulting the family. When a suspect is apprehended, adjournments, preliminary hearings, trials, and sentencing all force a grieving family to face what may seem to be a lack of justice. In situations where the murder is unsolved, there may be even greater pain and confusion.
What Happens at a Meeting?
Most meetings begin with introductions and each survivor telling of their loss and updating the group on changes. New members as they are ready participate in sharing.
Often there is a topic to guide discussion, such as the grief process, the criminal justice system, favourite memories, anger, etc. Usually meetings revolve around members' own knowledge and experiences. Sometimes guest speakers are invited to present information.
Acceptance and support are important principles of group support. No one is there to judge your feelings or to persuade you to think differently. Members help each other by sharing their own experiences and insights and allowing others to do the same. No one is there to judge your loved one that has been murdered.
The Edmonton group holds monthly meetings. Social events are sometimes planned as well as our annual Candlelight Christmas Memorial Service and a summer BBQ.
Thoughts on Coping
As parents and family members who have survived the violent death of a loved one, we would like to offer the following thoughts:
Don't be surprised at the strong emotions that come - shock, disbelief, anger, frustration with the police or justice system, and a seeming loss of faith in God and people.
Expect to be numb, confused, depressed, or unable to stop crying. Sometimes survivors have difficulty releasing their emotions. You may feel empty or as if you are losing your sanity, but you're probably not. These are normal reactions.
Be gentle with yourself. Homicide grief takes much longer than most people realize and it is a difficult process. It affects the body as well as the mind.
Don't build a wall around yourself. You are not alone and being involved with others will help your recovery, especially if you can channel your emotions into constructive action.