To have someone in your family/whanau killed by someone else is a tragic, traumatic, complicated and difficult life experience.
There is no single path through this. Everyone reacts in their own way to this trauma, to the stress and the grief. Each homicide will be different, each investigation and court case takes its own time and works out in its own ways.
Your experience is unique and many things affect this. Some may include:
- how you found out
- your relationship to the victim
- how long the investigation takes
- things people do say and don't say
- ways you have developed to cope with tough times in the past.
It is normal to react to a violent and tragic death with powerful feelings of shock, horror, fear and helplessness. You can have intense and frightening emotional reactions after a homicide - it can shake you to your core and shake the world as you know it.
Taking it in takes time: we react physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally - bit by bit we can slowly accept the new reality, you may never be able to accept how the person died. The loss is always going to be part of your life, but at some time it will no longer overtake everything else.
Anger and guilt are common grief reactions, however when it is due to a homicide you can be startled and frightened by how intense these feelings can be and where they are focused.
Anger can be helpful. Expressing our thoughts and feelings can let out tension, but it can also be overwhelming and frightening. You may feel angry at the person/people who did this, the person it happened to because of choices they made, death itself, or everyone and anyone. If you are overwhelmed by these intense emotions, are harming yourself or others, it is important you talk to someone about this.
Guilt is a confusing and powerful emotion. You may spend a lot of time thinking 'what if' - it can help, for you to talk to someone about this. You can feel guilt because you can't change what happened - discussing it with someone can help you see there was nothing you could have done to change the situation - you did not do this, cause this, nor would you have chosen it.
For further information see:
Victim Support has staff and volunteers who train to be there for people faced with a difficult situation. See web link or call 0800 842 846.
Each homicide has its own events, its own people, its own timing. Police, your Court Victim Advisor, Crown Prosecutor, Coronial Case Manager and Victim Support worker can all provide support and information about the case.