After Homicide: Practical and Political Responses to Bereavement

By Paul E. Rock | Go to book overview

2
Bereavement after Homicide
The initial shock and horror is enough to kill.1

Introduction

I shall now turn to the impact which violent death has upon those who are left behind. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines bereavement as a state of deprivation or destitution, of being robbed, stripped, dispossessed, plundered, widowed, or orphaned, and those are words that convey an imagery of the unwelcome loss which leaves one sad, despoiled, and reduced. Of course, not everyone who is bereaved will mourn, and not all those who mourn will mourn in quite the same way. But, if only for a while, the death of another can leave a social world more empty, a life more purposeless, and a self diminished and more vulnerable.

If homicide has its demography, so does grief. The most sorely afflicted tend to be the poor rather than the rich (because they more frequently lack social and material resources); men rather than women (because they are generally less expressive); the young rather than the old (because they are less accustomed to loss); those who have lost children; those whose loss is sudden and brutal; and those who had entertained an unresolved and ambivalent relation with the person now dead.2 In short, bereavement appears to be peculiarly acute for those who mourn the unexpected, violent deaths of children and adolescents. The experiences of homicide survivors, and the parents of murdered children in particular, are sui generis, and it is the phenomenology of those experiences that I shall now consider.

____________________
1
David Howden, speaking in a video recording; No Chance to Say Goodbye, Jo Marcus, no place of production, 1996.
2
Taken from W. Stroebe and M. Stroebe, Bereavement and Health ( Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1987), ch 8.

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After Homicide: Practical and Political Responses to Bereavement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editors' Introduction vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xxvii
  • Contents xxix
  • Figures xxxi
  • Tables xxxii
  • Abbreviations xxxiii
  • Dramatis Personae xxxv
  • 1 - Homicide in England and Wales 1
  • 2 - Bereavement after Homicide 28
  • 3 - Bereavement as a Career 57
  • 4 - The Moral Economy of the Homicide Survivor 91
  • 5 - Beginnings: From The Compassionate Friends to Parents of Murdered Children 136
  • 6 - Victim Support and Parents of Murdered Children 168
  • 7 - The Campaigning Survivors: Justice for Victims, Activism, and the Mass Media 206
  • 8 - The Politics of Justice for Victims 241
  • 9 - The Evolution of SAMM 278
  • 10 - Conclusion 321
  • Index 334
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