Grief of Unsolved Homicides
Unsolved homicide leaves co-victims within the same body, but of a different mind; feeling defeated and bound to the criminal justice system which usurps the instinctual drive for justice. The path toward resolution in the midst of these circumstances may be supported by reconstructing that which was taken at the time of the homicide – the meaning of our loved one’s life and our own, outside of the defining point of the murder.
By embracing this meaning, we reclaim power and transform defeat into hope. Turning the tables on defeat, and feelings of powerlessness, occurs by internally changing the power dynamic in a situation where power is outside of oneself.
Directing our Thoughts
An unsolved homicide, by its very nature, is unresolved and therefore stays with co-victims and defines our paths forward, whether we like it or not. When there are no resolutions, the only thing we can control are our thoughts, voices and how we feel. Without minimizing the impact of a homicide, we can transform how we live, experience and see its wake.
Survivors of homicide victims think themselves into pieces in order to survive. Integrating one’s pre and post-homicide identity is the first step in reframing. To thrive, those pieces of identity are reclaimed and assimilated, creating a new center that is un-moveable by the external forces operating in our loved one’s case. Who were you before your loved one’s homicide? Who are you now? Own it, name it, establish pride in it.
The result is the formation of a new identity that is separate from the occurrences in the case, but not separate from oneself. Then, the on-going engagement with the criminal justice system does not lead to feelings of defeat. This is the goal of reframing.
Externalize to Make Whole
Reframing is a way of acknowledging the very core of the trauma of an unsolved homicide by honoring the impact on our own hearts, minds and lives. Before we turn something around, it is named and acknowledged by externalizing thoughts and feelings through therapy, support groups, or in concert with another outlet, such as writing.
Here, personal truths are discovered, honored and given voice. Naming where we are sets the stage for determining what might need attention. Feeling and expression of all feelings, especially those feelings we think we ought not feel, carries survivors toward wholeness. Doing so creates validation of one’s experience, often absent in our interaction with the justice system. This is where changing the power dynamic is constructed.
From Powerless to Empowered
When we do not receive that which we are fighting passionately for, we may mistakenly determine that we are unworthy of its receipt. It is empowering to validate what is deserved, even if it is not realized. The words we bring into our lives shape our lives. It is affirming to reframe the heart through the words of “I have a right.” It is fortifying to reframe the mind through the words of “I control my thoughts/opinions.” It’s healing to reframe one’s voice through the words of “I speak the truth of my experience.”
Reframing is taking control of the definition of one’s experience, regardless of external circumstances, thereby preventing the absence of justice from defeating one’s soul.
Reframing the Grief of Unsolved Homicides
A thread of hope is realized by returning the power to define life to the hands of co-victims. In an unsolved homicide, there is always work to be done. There are always new angles to pursue, new investigators to view the case, new ways to look at evidence. Every brick wall is an opportunity to think outside of the box. A homicide case never dies until it is solved. Unsolved homicide leaves behind family members, friends and detectives advocating for justice; meaning, no murderer is ever, truly free. That is reframing.
Reframing is directing and embracing the narrative: I am not bound to external forces impacting – or dictating – my life and well-being; I am a survivor of a homicide victim, and I am better than the absence of justice received.
Read more by Lori Grande: Nurturing Oneself After a Homicide – Open to Hope
Visit Lori Grande’s website: stillibreathe