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One of the most challenging aspects of an unsolved case can be the ups and downs of the investigation. News of a lead can make loved ones hopeful only to be disappointed later. During the investigation, especially long-term unsolved cases, loved ones might experience a rollercoaster of optimism and dashed hopes. When an unsolved case is reactivated, it is important to recognize that renewed attention might not yield new results. Talk to the people on the case about the steps and challenges involved in the investigation. Ask for information to help set realistic expectations regarding the timeline and the outcome of the investigation.
When you first hear about a new lead or renewed activity on the case, there may be excitement at the possibility of finally getting some answers. At the same time, you may feel a sense of dread about learning more details. Years of emotion may suddenly rise to the surface. Strong emotional reactions may appear similar to those you felt when the crime first occurred, such as anger and despair at the injustice of the crime. You might experience stress reactions, including:
It’s as if a wound has been reopened. It is common to have strong mental, emotional, or physical reactions to that. These reactions may make survivors, family, and friends feel guilty or disloyal and question why something that should be “good news” is causing such anxiety or sadness.
These reactions are a natural response to experiencing trauma. You may be frustrated that you are experiencing stress reactions that you thought you had already worked through. Many people in your situation have had similar experiences.
Sleep disturbances are a common reaction to a stressful or traumatic event. It can be very difficult for survivors to relax enough to fall asleep. Some survivors experience nightmares that make it hard to sleep through the night.
Lack of sleep can affect your overall health, and make the day’s activities seem overwhelming. If you are experiencing sleep disturbances (too much or too little sleep), consider discussing this with your doctor.