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Complicated Mourning
By © Copyright Lotus ~ July 9th, 2004

Webster’s Dictionary defines murder as “to kill a human being unlawfully and with premeditated
malice. To slaughter wantonly : slay. To put an end to.”

There are no blueprints for the care of the grieving. However one manages to deal with death,
mourners, more than anything, need to know, whatever they feel is OK!.

I dedicate this writing to my childhood playmate, my best friend and beautiful cousin, Joseph
Saad, who was murdered September 22, 1993. I will always love and miss you brother of my

Most of us wrestle with the word "MURDER." It makes us coil and forces us to deal with
concepts of senselessness and evil. No one deserves to be murdered. A single murder can tear the
fiber of a family or a whole community apart. When my Aunt called to tell me Joseph had been
brutally stabbed to death, I was devastated and felt this horrendous crushing pain my heart. My
much-loved Joe left behind a wonderful wife, two beautiful daughters and a mother who’s
youngest son had already crossed onto the shores of the Spiritual Lands. Our lives were changed
forever by this event.

Murder is a horrific act, the ultimate violation! More than any other form of loss, murder
emphasizes how fleeting life can be. There is no question this death was preventable. The
victim's life was violently and abruptly ended. Nothing prepares us for the day when a loved one
is murdered. Someone wanted to hurt your loved one. Someone made a choice to reach into your
life and rob you, without warning, of a most precious gift, your beloved. Being told of the
murder of a loved one is profoundly traumatic which is likely to elicit powerful responses.
The shock is titanic and the fear, rage and vulnerability severe. Survivors experience extreme
shock as well as all of the other responses of sudden death. Trauma releases many emotions and
dealing with these feelings requires extraordinary bravery. As the shock and numbness slowly
wear off, there may be feelings of denial. These feelings act as a buffer allowing mourners time
to gradually absorb the reality of the loss.

Murder brings mourners into involvement with the police, the coroner, the district attorney, the
judicial system, and the media. Family roles undergo major transformations and relationships
will face challenges. No other experience has prepared the family or its members how to deal
with the homicide. There is a sudden uninvited intrusion in their lives that changes their
existence from private to public.

As soon as the death and circumstance surrounding it become known, all kinds of people become
involved and your loved one seems to be taken away from you. The police talk about “their
case.” Forensic scientists want samples of clothing etc. The court sets a hearing date. You may
find yourself being asked endless questions at a time when you find it very difficult to
concentrate and have no mental or physical energy. You may feel overwhelmed by the need to
make sure that everything in the investigation goes correctly and worried that you may have
forgotten something important. You may be confronted by reporters and telephone calls asking
for background information and photographs. The Inquest will be the first legal procedure you
may have to cope with. It is important to realize that this is not a trial, but an inquiry to establish
the facts - when, where and how the death occurred. Do not be afraid to ask any questions that
plague you. It is important that you are told as much as possible about the circumstances
surrounding the death. What you do not know, your mind may invent and this can often be even
more distressing than the truth.

You may find the inquest helpful. At least some of the facts should be established and you may
learn more about the circumstances surrounding the death.

A trial will follow the inquest. This will no doubt be even more stressful. You will find yourself
being tested in so many ways. It may be the first time you come face-to-face with the accused.
You may hear the defense lawyers attacking the character of your loved one. You are desperate
for justice to be done and, although you are mentally and physically exhausted, you are expected
to understand what is going on, and to give clear and concise evidence. . It is not unusual to feel
resentment at the unfairness of it all. As there are seldom answers to the many questions and a
sense of injustice may fill you. Once the trial is over, the public part of your nightmare will have
ended. With the help of supportive people you will get through this terrible time.

As you confront reality of loss, you may begin to experience the following: Anger – Intense rage
and thoughts of retaliation or revenge is not unusual. Anger often directed toward the legal
procedures or even the investigating team. If the criminal is apprehended, there is some sense of
justification but if not, you may find yourself feeling enraged, frustrated and helpless.

Guilt - When a sudden unexpected death occurs, survivors must also cope with not having a
chance to say good-bye, resolve issues or prepare for an anticipated death. There is a lack of
closure leaving survivors feeling robbed. A significant part of your mourning is grieving for the
many losses...lost dreams, lost relationships, lost years, and the many more that affect each

Fear & Panic – A fear of further victimization, increased feelings of insecurity, anxiety and an
overwhelming sense of vulnerability. Feelings of anxiety and an overpowering need to keep
yourself and your loved ones safe.

Stress - The violent nature of this death complicates your mourning. Survivors often suppress
part of their grieving until there is some legal resolution and even then mourners continue to feel
victimized as they pay close attention to the perpetrator’s incarceration … will there be an
appeal, an early release, parole, all of these questions have a significant impact on survivors.
Spiritual Loss of faith in religion, or philosophy of life is also a common reaction
Suggestions that may be helpful …

Struggle with why it happened until you no longer need to know why or until you are satisfied
with partial answers. Wear out your questions, anger, guilt or other feelings until you can let
them be. Letting them be doesn’t mean forgetting.

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

Find a good listener with whom to share. Call someone if you need to talk.

Don't be afraid to cry and give yourself time to heal.

Put off making any major changes.

Don’t be afraid to set your own limits and boundaries. 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 and give yourself permission to seek
professional help should the need arise.

Call on your personal faith to help you through.

Know it is common to experience physical reactions to your grief, for example headaches, loss
or increase of appetite, inability to sleep, and irritability are just a few things you may

If you have children, remember how much they love and need you.

If you have pets, allow them to be a source of comfort. Animals aren't judgmental, need your
care and are there when people are unable to be.

Have the willingness to laugh with others or at yourself.

Find books that have information about homicide grief. Search the Internet and read about other
people's personal experiences. Do not hesitate to cry, share your grief, and seek comfort through
friends and support groups. If you are struggling with coping, speak to your family doctor, clergy
or someone you can trust.

Have faith that you will eventually move past feeling stunned and emotionally wounded. It takes
time to heal and reach a place where you can begin to feel whole again. Over time, as difficult as
it is to believe, the raging storm and hurricane winds you feel will gradually subside and become
the gentle warm summer rain.

A Reminder:
Excessive alcohol, prescription drugs or tranquilizers do not end the pain, they only mask it.

Moving Forward
The most important healing can come from talking openly about what you are experiencing. It
may help to go over what happened again and again with friends, a professional counselor or
people who have the time and understanding to listen.

If you are mourning the loss of a spouse or partner, don’t jump into other relationships
prematurely. Give yourself time and space. You will know if and when you are ready but do
leave the door open for love to enter. This is not a betrayal. Your partner is in spirit and would
only want you to be happy.

In time, your personal experience, terrible though it was, may enable you to reach out and help
others. Sometimes, positive acts done in the memory of the one you have lost, can help you heal
and face life with renewed strength.

The final writing in this series is in the making and will be titled: "A Spiritual Perspective on
Death" which I hope to have finished next week.


I wrote an article on dealing with terrorism a few years back. In the end it's really all murder.


Thank you so much for this topic. There are so many levels of this...Well, living in Germany I
know many people who survived World War I and II. I also know mothers who spoke about
sheltering their children - when soldiers wanted to take away their young daughters, they shouted
and yelled and screamed - also ready to shelter their children, ready to kill the soldiers. Some
even might thought about killing their children to prevent them from suffering, from being killed
by others, from suffering in other hands... It was a hard time, not much food, abuse, terrific
situations, extreme circumstances...

This is "murder", too - it is "putting an end" - also if it is a mother wanting to shelter her
children... There also is "killing of love" involved in this... The mothers killed themselves with
this somehow, too...

There is a lot of compassion in me for people who are in extreme situations - wanting to help -
and not seeing any other solution but to kill the enemy or even the loved ones - to shelter what
they love. It is so extreme... With this the word "murder" also gets an aspect of deep tragedy, of
helplessness, of desperation... I am wondering how to help these people who killed others or
even their loved ones to help... They wanted to act in a good way - to prevent from suffering -
and it might have ended in murder... They are "murders" in the sense of "putting an end to" - and
they need so much help, too...

There are so many levels in this - and I hope that I found the right words to express what I
wanted to express and that I am not misunderstood...

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