Friday, December 18, 2009

When a Child has been Murdered

book recommendation:

When a Child has been Murdered (Ways you can help the grieving parents)

author: Bonnie Hunt Conrad
ISBN: 0-89503-186-8

It's been difficult locating a decent book on homicide grieving. I came across this one at our local library. It's not thick and it's very easy to read. I suggest anyone who has lost a child, teenager, or young adult to murder or even if you know someone grieving from homicide to read it. I'm listing a few excerpts from the introduction.

"The parents of a murdered child feel emotionally defeated at the realization that they were unable to prevent their child from feeling terror on this one occasion."

"Some parents believe that murdered children die emotionally before they die physically. The bullet that is about to enter their brain, the knife that is about to pierce their heart, the tire iron or baseball bat that is about to crush their skulls shatter their faith and naivety. This shattering, this loss of faith, kills the child emotionally. This emotional death is then followed by physical death. In many instances, it is this double death that some parents of a murdered child find most devastating."

"Fear can also cause family members and friends to minimize the grieving parents' pain. Often they are urged-much too quickly-to accept their child's murder and to get on with their lives. Rather than be allowed to express their grief openly and honestly, they are expected to suppress it. In some cases they are even expected to forget it entirely, an expectation that is impossible to fulfill."

"Some parents, due to mistakes made by those who investigated their child's death or who prosecuted the killer, or a plea bargain or lenient parole board that allows the killer to walk free after serving only a short time in prison, believe they too have become victims. Their child was the victim of a violent, uncaring individual; the parents become victims of a sometimes inept, uncaring criminal justice system. This system, although it is sworn to protect and defend both the parents and their child, sometimes does neither."

"But the parents of a murdered child never forget the savagery of their child's death. They continue to be haunted by bits and pieces of a nightmare that, for them, is a reality rather than a bad dream from which they will awaken. Despite their efforts to help themselves and, in some cases, the efforts of kind, caring people who attemp to offer support and comfort, immediately after the murder and into the future, the parents never fully recover."

On Guilt

"They do not understand that something they did or did not do was not the cause of the death... They do not understand that guilt is a product of their struggle to ascertain why their loved one, a person who was good, had died rather than some other person who was not so good."

On Anger and God

"If they are religious, the can be angry with God as well. In their prayers they asked that He protect their loved one, and He did not. They lost their loved one and, for a while, the can lose their faith in God. This double loss can greatly increase their anger and their suffering."


"The death of their loved one forced them out of a world that was happy and safe and into one filled with anguish and fear. It takes time for them to adjust to being banished from their old world and to find a place in the new one."

"Parents of murdered children feel cheated. There was no time to comfort their child. There were no pillows to fluff, no gifts to bring. The parents had no chance to ease their child's terror with hugs and kisses. The resentment they feel is neither spiteful or self-serving. The parents should not be ashamed of being resentful, and other bereaved persons should not hold it against them. It is the result of the parents' grief and theri knowledge that their child felt terror and pain. It is a deep-seated yearning to go back to the time before their child was murdered and to prevent their child's lonely suffering."


"When a child is murdered intentionally, in cold blood, the parents view the safety of living in a civilized society as a cruel myth."


"Murdered-child grief can be compared to a seemingly unending night of darkness and fear. There is no way this fear can be quickly dispelled. Before their child was murdered, the parents' lives were filled with happiness. After the murder, that happiness is replaced with sorrow. As the parents stumble throug their sorrow, they begin to despair."


1. Defining Basic Grief
2. Factors That Can Affect Grief
3. The Emotions of Murdered-Child Grief
4. How the Parents of Murdered Children Deal with the Criminal Justice System
5. Ways in Which the Lives of Parents of Murdered Children Permanently Change
6. Immediate Help You Can Give the Parents of a Murdered Child
7. Future Help You Can Give the Parents of a Murdered Child
8. Immediate Ways the Parents of a Murdered Child Help Themselves
9. Future Ways the Parents of a Murdered Child Help Themselves

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