Unsolved Homicides Destabilize Many Lives

Homicide is a complicated loss, and its reflection resides in a constant state of metamorphosis with each new experience that follows in its wake.  In order to even scratch the surface of resolution of such a loss, we are propelled to find something in the horrific event to transform, to make anew within ourselves.

My brother’s unsolved homicide created a process of on-going destabilization for many years.  Over time, that destabilization turned into an awareness of what is survivable and what can be transformed, even without a resolution.  I found my greatest power in self-definition and doing so carved a path for my own redemption.

We Do Sweat the Small Stuff

Perhaps people “sweat the small stuff” because the big stuff they face is too overwhelming.  We try to hide the big sweat and reveal only small, manageable droplets.

I cannot erase my brother’s murder from my life and the defeat inherent in the experience of living with an unsolved homicide.  I cannot erase the unexpected and unwanted changes that bled into my life after that day.  What I can erase is the hiding and shame associated with the experience.

A loved one’s murder is often a precursor to shame embedded within the case.  Media exposure of cases can pour that shame into concrete.  Survivors live, while feeling buried underneath it.  As I took an eraser to the hidden “big stuff” and shame tied up with my brother’s unsolved homicide, I began to walk in the direction of my redemption.

I Have a Choice

While traveling a dark road, I have been blessed by people who desired to ease my suffering.  I have a choice to embody the defeat of living with an unsolved homicide or embody grace in the good fortune for those people who have crossed my path because of the tragic loss of my brother’s homicide.   I have a choice in which story I want to see and therefore which story becomes my reality.

Tragedy, trauma, and loss do not transform by running from their existence or by blaming ourselves or others.  They change and are then transformed by accepting what is true and then holding ourselves accountable for how we respond. In trying to handle life, sometimes our choices propel us forward, sometimes back, and often stationary.

The hardest, albeit most penetrating, approach is to choose to embrace what is not there before it materializes.  This is notably difficult to do in an unsolved homicide, but worth the experience.

A Life of Questions

My brother’s homicide initiated a life of query and search.  In search of truth first, purpose second and my power, third.  Living that search gave rise to humor, meaning, momentum and peace in an otherwise tragic story.

How did I go from screaming inside myself in the shower, outwardly fierce, internally splintered, and ill-equipped for the fight before me, to belting out 70s tunes in the shower, like my brother once did, singing and dancing around my home, happy to be me?  I gave voice to my disillusionment without going deaf to the sprout of life breaking through.

Resolution and Redemption

The Latin root of the word, redemption, is redimere, translated as re(d), meaning “back,” and emere, meaning “buy.” Almost twenty years of my life I lived to get something back for my brother’s murder.  Without the accountability hoped for in a case going to trial, redemption, in the traditional sense, is void.  It appears instead in the quest to find resolution when all outward appearances demonstrate its continued absence.

If it takes a lifetime or two for justice to come, that does not devalue the effort taken on its behalf.  It means the justice in waiting is worthy of continued time.  Redemption in an unsolved homicide is inextricably connected to resolution, and that resolution is redeemed in the eye of the beholder.

Read more by Lori Grande: Nurturing Oneself After a Homicide – Open to Hope

Visit Lori Grande’s website: stillibreathe

Lori Grande

Lori Grande’s first career in addictions and HIV/AIDS social work has been followed by a career in elementary school teaching. She currently teaches Kindergarten in a private school in South Florida. When a true-crime reality show’s (The First 48) filming of her brother’s homicide investigation (2005) resulted in a botched case and all charges dropped against the suspect, she was catapulted into the center of the investigation; balancing the roles of mother and teacher with advocate and detective. An emotional breakdown thirteen years into the investigation led her on a path to transform the experience of living with an unsolved homicide. Eighteen years after her brother’s murder, Lori continues to advocate within the criminal justice system for justice and offer workshops on living with unsolved homicide at the Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) Annual Conference. She holds a BA in Communications from Boston University and a MA in Transforming Spirituality from Seattle University. She began journaling a year after her brother’s murder. In 2022, she created the website: stillibreathe.com, to spread awareness about homicide survivors’ experiences. The website provides a window into a crime victim’s engagement with the criminal justice system, alongside validation, encouragement, resources and hope. Finding inspiration in nature, she spends her spare time paddle-boarding, swimming in the ocean and visiting State Parks. Lori prides herself on exemplifying how an independent woman can thrive, in spite of loss, while living with joy, purpose and passion.

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