Grief for families of murder victims is very difficult and long
lasting. As a survivor, you will probably go through many of the
following emotional stages.
When a loved one is murdered, it is highly likely you will be traumatized.
The trauma may cause you to re-experience the event over and over
again. You may have nightmares. Certain sights, sounds, smells,
or news events may trigger your trauma. While these feelings may
be common, it is important to continue to talk about the event
in order to recover some of your control of the event and to stay
in touch with your reality about what happened.
You may feel as if the death of your loved one is “all a
bad dream.” You may be in shock for several months. As
the shock wears off, intense emotion may follow as reality sets
Depression and Loneliness
You can get these feelings at any time for very long periods.
Try to find support groups or counseling or someone to talk to – it
will help. If it seems to you that other people have returned
to life as normal, they may not be as able to listen to you or
you. You have the right to choose when and with whom you talk.
Feel free to continue to find listeners who can let you be where
you are while you work your way through your grief.
After a terrible experience like murder, it’s normal to
have headaches, feel sick to your stomach, not be able to sleep,
or lose weight, and have other physical illnesses. Usually these
symptoms will subside, but if they continue to interfere with
your daily functioning, see your doctor.
You may feel as if you are going crazy. Again, try to find a support
group or talk with a counselor to help you deal with the pain and
As a survivor, you may feel guilty or regret things you said
or didn’t say. It is very important to remember that you
did not have control over the crime. Find someone to talk with
will allow you to explain your feelings of guilt.
Many survivors find that becoming involved with crime prevention
groups or other action groups helps to stop the guilty feelings.
In time, you may want to participate in one of these groups.
Anger and Resentment
You may want to blame someone for the crime – including the
police, attorneys, other family members, yourself – and the
suspect. You may think about taking revenge, getting back at the
person suspected of killing your loved one. This is a normal feeling.
But – if you begin to think about acting on this feeling,
get counseling help immediately.
Inability to Resume Everyday Activities
You may feel like it’s difficult or impossible to function
in everyday society. Activities that you once enjoyed may seem
meaningless. It can be hard to laugh, or think that you will
ever feel happy again. Remember, grief is a full-time job. Time
does not heal all wounds.
Take your time to heal. Being with and talking with other family
members or survivors can help you. Contact the POMC chapter in
your area for information about location and times of meetings.
(put a link in here to the page that gives the meeting dates and
Eventually, your painful feelings of grief will erupt less frequently.
You will feel you have been changed forever by this terrible
experience – but
you may also find that life will once again take on meaning and
Each person is different and can feel a range of emotions. Remember
that, whatever your reactions are, they are normal for you.
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