When someone we love is senselessly murdered, the surviving family members and friends are usually angry, bitter, and full of blame ... All these feelings are part of the grieving. It is understandable. Anger turns into guilt, as there are always so many who believe that there was something they could have done to prevent such a crime. If there is a trial, then the grieving is continually stirred up as the evidence is presented and witnesses testify.

This is a horrendous period of life for all those involved. On one hand, you want the trial to be over so you can have some closure; on the other hand, you want to make sure that justice is served and everything is done properly. Not only is murder shocking, but often the surviving family members and friends are tormented by thoughts of their loved one's last minutes on earth.

When someone is thrown out of the physical body suddenly, as in a violent death, the spirit may not know for a hile that it has passed over. It may wander the Earth realm as if in a dream ... However, once a soul has made the adjustment to the spiritual level, a relative or spirit guide is there to assist it. The communication I have had with murder victims has been a mixture of confusion on the one hand, and concern for the living on the other.

There are many reasons why murder occurs ... it may be due to a karmic debt that has to be repaid. Grieving for a murdered person may be a very difficult process. Be patient, as it will take some time. Remember that forgiveness can help you get through your own painful feelings.

Reaching to Heaven, by James Van Praagh


issues unique to survivors

- Isolation, helplessness in a world that is seen as hostile and uncaring, and that frequently blames the victim;

- Feelings of guilt for not having protected the victim;

- The memory of a mutilated body at the morgue, how much did my loved one suffer?

- Getting back the personal belongings of a murder victim;

- Sensational and/or inaccurate media coverage;

- Lack of information;

- Seemingly endless grief;

- Loss of ability to function on the job, at home or in school, etc.;

- The strain on marriages (frequently resulting in divorce);

- Strain on family relationships;

- Effects on health, faith and values;

- Effects on other family members, children, friends, co-workers, etc.;

- Indifference of the community, including professionals, to the plight of survivors;

- Society's attitude regarding murder as a form of entertainment;

- Financial burden of medical and funeral expenses;

- Medical expenses for stress related illnesses;

- Professional counseling for surviving family members;

- Financial burden of hiring private investigators, etc.;

- Public sympathy for murderers;

- The feeling that the murderer, if found, gets all the help;

- Survivors of homicide victims have few rights;

- Outrage about the leniency of the murderer's sentence;

- Disparities in the judicial system (frequently punishments for property crimes are as great or greater than the crime of taking a human life);

- Anger over a plea bargain arrangement/agreement;

- Frustration at not being allowed inside the courtroom at the time of trial;

- Unanswered questions about the crime. What happened?

- Unanswered questions about postponements and continuous delays throughout the trial;

- Bitterness and loss of faith in the American criminal justice system;

- After conviction, the long appeals process begins; and

- Constantly reliving your story through the dreaded parole process.

1995, National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, Inc.


suggestions for survivors of murder

Someone you love has been murdered. Your whole world has been thrown into chaos and uncertainty. You feel vulnerable. Over time and with the help of other supportive people, you will get through this terrible time.

Some of the following suggestions may be helpful:

- Know you can survive. You may not think so, but you can;

- Struggle with why it happened until you no longer need to know why or until you are satisfied with partial answers;

- Know you may be overwhelmed by the intensity of your feelings but all your feelings are a natural reaction to what has happened;

- Anger, guilt, confusion, forgetfulness are common responses;

- You are not crazy - you are in mourning;

- Be aware you may feel anger at the murderer, the person who died, the world, at God, at yourself. It's okay to express it;

- You may feel guilty for what you think you did or did not do to maybe prevent it;

- Guilt can turn into regret through forgiveness;

- Having suicidal thoughts is common. It does not mean that you will act on those thoughts. Find a good listener with whom to share;

- Call someone if you need to talk;

- Don't be afraid to cry. Tears are healing;

- Give yourself time to heal;

- If emotions return like a tidal wave, you may only be experiencing a remnant of grief, an unfinished piece. Grieving is like a roller coaster ride;

- Try to put off major decisions;

- Give yourself permission to get professional help;

- Be aware of the pain of your family and friends;

- Be patient with yourself and others who may not understand;

- Set your own limits and learn to say 'no' when someone asks something of you that you are not up to doing;

- Steer clear of people who want to tell you what or how to feel;

- Know that there are support groups that can be helpful;

- Call on your personal faith to help you through;

- Know it is common to experience physical reactions to your grief eg. headache, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, irritability or restlessness;

- Have the willingness to laugh with others or at yourself;

- Wear out your questions, anger, guilt or other feelings until you can let them go;

- Letting go doesn't mean forgetting; and

- Know that you will never be the same again, but you can survive and even go beyond just surviving.

Copyright 2002 Griefworks BC.

Access Griefwork's excellent archive of articles on grief now!


warning signs of trauma-related stress

Individuals who have experienced a traumatic event often suffer psychological stress related to the incident. In most instances, these are normal reactions to abnormal situations.

Individuals who feel they are unable to regain control of their lives, or who experience the following symptoms for more than a month, should consider seeking outside professional assistance:

- Recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event;

- Having trouble sleeping or changes in appetite;

- Experiencing anxiety and fear, especially when exposed to events or situations reminiscent of the trauma;

- Being on the edge, being easily startled or becoming overly alert;

- Feeling depressed, sad, and having low energy;

- Experiencing memory problems including difficulty in remembering aspects of the trauma;

- Feeling "scattered" and unable to focus on work or daily activities;

- Having difficulty making decisions;

- Feeling irritable, easily agitated, or angry and resentful;

- Feeling emotionally "numb", withdrawn, disconnected or different from others;

- Spontaneously crying, feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness;

- Feeling extremely protective of, or fearful for, the safety of loved ones;

- Not being able to face certain aspects of the trauma, and avoiding activities, places, or even people that remind you of the event.

Copyright 2002 American Psychological Association

Contact the American Psychological Association for this Victim Resources Help Guide on US 202-336-5800.

Grief: different experiences, different expressions
Anger and depression
Trauma + recovery
Illness: a new perspective
Suicidal urges
A healthy life
The healing power of hope
In debt?
The laughter page
Find your own North Star
Optimism - the key
How to feel better about yourself
Feel like a hug?
An inspiring interview with Louise Hay

Message board for survivors of murder - NOW!
Scroll down this page for excellent message boards on losing your beloved - NOW!
Buy How to Recover From Grief
Create a memorial for your beloved
National Center for Victims of Crime
Neighbours who Care
Compassionate Friends
Free memorial page for your murdered beloved
Great free guided audio online relaxation exercises
Message boards for all survivors - siblings, parents, grandparents - online NOW!
Parents of Murdered Children's Website
Email Parents of Murdered Children
Murdered siblings
Crisis intervention
Overcoming Sleep Problems, by the father of a murdered girl
Helping Someone When a Loved One has been Murdered
Excellent books that deal with those who are murdered
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation
Why the death penalty is no solution
Suggestions for Survivors of Murder
Compassionate Friends
Survivors' newsletter
Trauma and Grief