Support for the families of homicide victims
July 29, 2021
There is no right or wrong way to feel when someone close to you is murdered. Tremors of shock, disbelief, anger, sadness, fear, guilt, and worry can overwhelm you with an intensity you've never experienced before. You may even feel emotionally numb, but one thing is certain: Your world has abruptly and forever changed. Support from others who have gone through a similar experience can be helpful. You can also get help from professionals who specialize in helping to manage the many stressors victims' families face and can suggest options to help ease the pain and anguish of an irreversible loss.
A homicide can have long-lasting, devastating financial effects on the surviving family members. Crime brings a lot of expenses, and death does not negate them. At the worst possible time, they can be billed for expenses like the victim's medical treatment or emergency room visit. The Minnesota Crime Victims Reparations Board helps relieve the financial burdens family members face as a result of a violent crime. If someone in your family was killed in a homicide, you may be eligible to receive financial help for expenses related to the crime or the loss of their income if they supported the family. Check the Financial Help page on the Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs (OJP) website to see if you might qualify.
The unexpected death of a family member can also involve the criminal justice system and the media. It's not uncommon for family members to feel re-victimized in these areas if they don't feel their crime victim rights have been upheld or if they haven't had a chance to tell their loved one's story or counter inaccurate information in the media about their tragedy. In Minnesota, crime victims can formally complain if their rights are not being met. The OJP Crime Victim Justice Unit (CVJU) investigates complaints about elements of the criminal justice system. The CVJU works to improve the treatment of crime victims. It can also assist with referrals or options for addressing concerns family members may have related to entities, like the media, that fall outside its scope.
Resources can be critically important to families as they grieve. Their emotional and physical distress can persist if they don't get culturally appropriate and sensitive help quickly. It's common to have a lot of questions and not know where to seek answers. This OJP brochure explains what to do after a homicide. Survivor Resources is one local resource specializing in grief and crisis response. A non-profit organization, they offer support groups, crisis response, grief support and other services for families of victims of homicide, suicide, accidental overdose or violent deaths.