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Homicide and Grief

According to the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children (POMC), 45,000 individuals are victims of homicide in the United States each year. These murders leave behind people grieving the loss of family members or friends.

Those surviving the loss of someone close to them by homicide experience shock, turmoil, and numbness. They face things like a need to identify the body, unpredictable reactions from friends and family members, dealings with the criminal-justice system and interactions with the media.

Several factors can affect the ability of survivors to cope with the homicide of a family member or friend:

  • The relationship of the survivor to the murder victim.
  • The survivor’s experience of personal vulnerability, anxiety, and compromised safety.
  • The circumstances of the murder, including whether the survivor witnessed it.
  • The relationship of the survivor to the murderer.

Victim advocates can explore legal guidance and financial support on their behalf. In addition, the can connect survivors to others who have lost someone to homicide. Often, the most comforting source of support are others who have survived this trauma. They have felt similar grief, intense anger, overwhelming loss, and have faced the unanswered question raised by senseless violence.

Special Resources for Those Who Have Lost Someone to Homicide

The Utah Office for the Victims of Crime holds an ongoing Utah Homicide Survivors group for individuals who have lost someone to homicide. Visit their website to join ( and call 801-500-9077 for more information.

Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) has chapters in most states. Chapters are made up of parents and other survivors who meet to talk about their loss and support each other. To find out if there is a chapter in your area visit or email

Victim Support Services offers information and support for victims of crime. Visit for more information. They can be reached at 425-252-6081 or 1-800-346-7555 (24-hour crisis line). 

National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) is especially helpful for families working with the criminal-justice system. The office can be reached at, 703-535-6682, or 1-800-879-6682 (for victim services).