Mourning after a homicide

So many of us are feeling distress and grief about the school shooting in Florida, and about the countless other violent incidents which have taken place recently in our world. Our hearts are with the family and friends of those who died, and we struggle to make sense of acts which are senseless.

For those who have lost a loved one to a homicide, the shock and denial may be immense because the event was so tragic and unbelievable. It is incredibly hard to take in the fact that another human being was the cause of our loved one’s death, and that the act was intentional. Survivors may feel deep and intense rage. Their view of the world may shift as well. It may be difficult to feel safe. Some might turn to their faith for solace while others might question or abandon their spiritual beliefs.

The legal process which often follows a homicide can be heart-wrenching. It can last for years, and the results, whatever they may be, cannot fully provide relief or closure as the loved one cannot be brought back. In some cases the murderer is never identified, which adds to the lack of closure for survivors.

If you have lost a loved one to homicide, please allow yourself to have all of your feelings. Your anger is understandable. A terrible and unjust crime has taken place.

A wise mentor of mine once told me that “forgiveness is overrated.” This actually provided me with a lot of relief!  Please know that forgiveness is your choice. You do not need to forgive, or you can choose to do so if and when it feels right for you.

Like many complex losses, the experience of a homicide loss may be misunderstood by others. Survivors may feel isolated or stigmatized. Please seek support for your grief. You might choose to talk to a therapist, to join a support group, or perhaps you’d prefer to speak with an empathetic friend or family member. Remember that there is no timeline for grief, and that each person will grieve differently.

Please reach out here if you need suggestions for resources.

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