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As the friend or loved one of a homicide survivor, you are probably very familiar with the challenges faced by those who must live with the reality of homicide in their lives. When a homicide remains unsolved, the lack of information and lack of an appropriate criminal justice response greatly complicates the process of grieving and living with the homicide. The survivor’s desire to discuss the homicide may come and go or change over the years and it is not always easy to know how to be supportive.
When an unsolved case gets new attention it may seem as if the crime happened yesterday. Old feelings may rush back and memories of the immediate aftermath of the crime may return. The survivor may feel dread, anxiety and sadness. Many survivors find they must cope with trauma and feelings that they thought they had resolved. This can cause guilt, as he or she might wonder why something that they thought should be good news is producing difficult feelings. You can help support your loved one by reassuring him or her that this reaction is common to people in this situation. Optimism about a case lead cannot erase years of grief or the experience of trauma that the homicide evokes.
As someone affected by the homicide, you may be feeling the same thing. It can be hard to know what to say or how to help. You might even be frustrated with how your loved one is reacting. There are some things you can do to help.
Take care of yourself, realizing that you have been affected by the homicide, as well. You will be better able to help your loved one if you are dealing with your own feelings in a healthy way.