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Murder of a Loved One

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 25 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
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The murder of a loved one can have a devastating effect on the surviving members of his or her family and friends. Shock anger, grief, frustration, disbelief, and an overwhelming sense of injustice will likely all be experienced in the days and weeks immediately following the death. Through this, a funeral may or may not need to be organised, cooperation with authorities will need to be handled, and everyone’s emotional health must be looked after. It will not be easy, but there are ways to better survive the murder of a loved one.

Organising a Funeral

When someone has been murdered, the body may very well be referred to the coroner for further examination. If this is the case, then it is likely that medical or legal/police authorities will register the death and transport the body to the coroner’s office. When the coroner becomes involved it means that further examination of the body will occur in the hopes of finding further evidence and a greater understanding of the crime. Due to this examination there will almost undoubtedly be a delay in when the body will be released to the family for a funeral, burial or cremation depending on the circumstances on the death.

If the coroner is not involved, then the death must be registered at the General Register Office (GRO) in England, Wales or the GRO (Northern Ireland) within 5 days, or the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) within 8 days. Contacting the local office will allow you to organise the proper documentation needed for this task, and upon completion approval will be given for a burial or cremation. Funeral arrangements may then be discussed with the deceased’s solicitor (to see if any instructions were left in the will), a professional funeral director or a member of the deceased’s clergy. If the murder has been in the media, it may also be necessary to accommodate media coverage of the event or, instead, issue a statement that it is desired that the funeral remain a private affair.

Cooperation with the Authorities

In order to solve your loved one’s murder, it will be necessary to cooperate with the authorities. In the first few days following the crime the police will likely need to speak with you over and over to find out what you know, to confirm others’ information, to look around the dwelling and possessions of the deceased and possibly more. If you find yourself at a breaking point, it is perfectly acceptable to tell them this and request a break. As the investigation continues, it is likely that the authorities will come back to you when new information is discovered, and you should be offered the contact details of a particular person who you can call when needed or desired. If the investigation turns into a court case, you may be needed to testify or you may be inclined to attend the proceedings. Speaking with your contact will prepare you for what you will see or need to do.

Looking After Emotional Health

The murder of a loved one will likely bring on strong and passionate emotions. It is important that if, at any time, you or another loved one of the deceased feels overwhelmed or unsteady, you seek professional help immediately. Professional counsellors and therapists are trained to help you through this time, and support groups exist for those grieving over family and friends lost to murder. If you do decide to join a support group, it will be important to be honest and respectful both of yourself and the other members. A moderator will likely be present to help everyone remember these courtesies.

The murder of a loved one is shocking and painful. It is likely that you will need to do a great amount in the following days and weeks, including organising a funeral, cooperating with the authorities and looking after your own and other mourner’s emotional health. Professional help can be sought for all of these tasks, and it is a very good idea to engage these trained and experienced assistants.

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