After the loss of a loved one to homicide, I have found that our life becomes two parts, life before their death and life after their death. When we lose them, the part before does not exist anymore because part of it is gone. As Homicide survivors we look into the mirror saddened at the person we have become, we are not who we once were and never will be again. We look in the mirror and see the faces of our loved ones who have been taken from us at the hands of another; we see the pictures on our walls knowing they will never grow old. We listen to music with tears in our eyes because every song is a memory of those we have loved and lost. We smile on the outside when our hearts are broken into a million pieces and we wonder how long we can endure this pain. There is a lonely place inside of us that has become a part of who we are. We never want our loved ones forgotten and even though it hurts, we cry but we smile in the memory of their lives. We learn to be thankful for unseen things such as faith in God who gives us hope we will see them again. Homicide is something that affects us all either directly or indirectly. We must remember no one is exempt from a violent crime. Before the murder of Andrae I never thought I would be affected by violence and loss. Before this tragedy I would not have known what to say to a survivor of homicide. I was guilty of being blind to what was happening all around me. As a survivor I realize that all people deal with grief in a different way. Some talk about it, some bottle it up, some are angry, some turn to God, and some rely on their own resources. But we all want our loved ones to be remembered.
There is a feeling of hopelessness like a normal person will never know. Mixed with anger, even at yourself, because you feel like the justice system has failed you, and you have failed your loved one. There are feelings of guilt because our hearts have promised those we love that we will get justice and we will be their voice. And nothing happens. There are feelings of fear that someone else will have to go thru the living nightmare that
we already know, the thought that the perpetrator will murder again. There are nightmares of the crime committed against our loved one. For unsolved crimes this is left up to the imagination. No face, no name, just the realization that our love one was brutally taken, and is never coming back.
The memories of them never change their smiles, their laugh, their wisdom and charm. The mention of their name may bring tears to our eyes, but its music to our hearts.
We learn to cope, and help others. Our lives have deeper meaning and we are forever changed. Some people will not understand. Old friends and family members distance themselves from us when we need them the most. We are criticized for our tears. We deal with isolation that rips at us in the middle of endless darkness. We gain strength and Heaven becomes more real. We are joined to a new family, a family of those who have suffered violence and we understand each other through our own grief. It is one of love, compassion and empathy. We share our loved ones with each other. We share pain, we share laughter and we share tears. We are a family of survivors!!
-From Lori and Catherine Doak