Tag Archives: murder

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Dealing with the Homicide of a Loved One

Real Perspectives LogoAs many of you may know, many years ago my former husband’s daughter was murdered at the age of 11. This brought us on an 18 year journey to find her killer and another two years to see him brought to justice.

Recently I was a guest on LaTonya Moore’s radio show, Real Perspectives, where the conversation moved into how to not only handle grief after a murder, but other advice for how to more effectively move through the grieving process regardless of how your loved one died.

If you are dealing with the homicide death of a loved one, you may wish to listen in here.

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30 Years Ago Today…

101When I look back on my life, there are a few days that stand out with such significance that I can’t help but acknowledge them, regardless of the pain.

And while there are happy days I can recall, like when I completed both my degrees, when I was given wonderful awards for my work, when my books were published, there are several difficult days that I’ve lived that caused me and those I’ve loved great trauma.

One was the death of my beloved grandmother, who lived, almost exclusively, a healthy life till her death at 93. She was my anchor when life handed me difficult times while growing up.

Another was my little dog, Daisy, who brought me so much joy every day for almost 13 years. My constant companion, she was always there to snuggle with when I needed her most.

But there was one particular day that, when I look back on my life, shaped and changed who I was and, even though I had helped so many in my life before who had struggled with bereavement, it was her death that catapulted me into leading support groups, writing books, speaking, and starting a national foundation for grieving children.

107She is Angela.

A 10 year old who came into my life when I met her father. Her older brother was then 13 and younger just 9.

I remember her bubbly personality, her courage to ask me those most pressing questions you’d never think would come out of the mouth of such a young lady. But I answered every one and she went away satisfied.

Many who knew her longer than I described her as a firecracker. And for the short time I knew her, they were right.

I specifically remember how much she loved shopping together. How she couldn’t choose between the pink or blue cotton candy.

Or the last holiday she and her younger brother spent with us. It was Easter, 1984 and I made a special dinner for us.

At one point after dinner we took a long walk together. I wanted to purchase film that day to take a few pictures but we didn’t pick it up. And that moment was lost to me forever.

Angela at 11; her last school picture.Because just a few short months later on this day in 1984, that bright, bubbly young girl was murdered on Long Island.

And what followed were 18 years of an unsolved murder.

It took until 2002 to have enough evidence to charge the initial suspect and another two years to go to trial.

We endured a six-week emotional rollercoaster from the time they began picking a jury for her 20 year old murder, to the time he was convicted.

I often wonder what life would have been like if she were still here with us. Would she have been in my bridal party when her father and I married?

Would she have studied for a college degree? And what career might she have chosen?

Would she have married and had children? How many would she have had and what would they have looked like?

But today, I guess there is a part of me that, as my stepson texted me today, which says “I can’t believe it’s been 30 years.”

And he is so right.

Rest in Peace, Angela. You were with us for far too short a time, but the impact you had on our lives, both in life and death, will remain forever.

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Sandy Hook, Newtown, CT: One Year Later

The first anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, CT holds difficult emotions for the families, friends and school staff, as well as its community. Dealing with the pain of loss for the first full year is never easy.

When we approach an anniversary, we relive all the little moments before the tragedy and try to trick ourselves into thinking that person is still with us. On the days leading up to the anniversary, we, at least, get to think “the week before we were baking Christmas cookies” or “the day before we were decorating the tree.”

But once the actual first anniversary occurs, we don’t get to have that luxury any longer and we can’t fool ourselves. We can no longer say, at this time last year we were doing this or that. And that reality bring sorrow.

The first anniversary is never an easy day to live through but sometimes the anticipation is much more stressful than the actual happenings of the day itself.

I’ve known so many families (and I’ve had this experience, too) tell me they made the experiences of the day so much greater in their head than they turned out to be.

They thought they’d be devastated, but somehow it turned out to be a lot lighter than they thought it would be. It became a day of remembering the person, than how they died.

It became a day of thinking of all the fun times they spent together and being grateful for those times instead of allowing themselves to succumb to the events of that day.

So my thoughts are with the families of this small Connecticut town today and do hope that they can look for the happiness they held in the relationship they shared with their loved one and not the way they died.

Yes, it can be hard, but moving toward gratitude for those happy years spent together, will always outweigh a moment in time that can never be changed.

To read my blogs from last year when this tragedy occurred, go here. As a stepmother of an 11 year old who was murdered, I wrote them from the perspective of a grieving mother of a murdered victim.

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Remembering JFK 50 Years Later

John F. Kennedy / Source: White House Historical Association
President John F. Kennedy / Source: White House Historical Association
I had started Kindergarten a few months earlier and I was getting myself acclimated to my new school in New York City. Since both my parents worked and it was my grandmothers who took turns being at the house after I arrived to take care of me and my brothers, I walked to and from school with a babysitter.

On that day, it was after lunch when the principal came on the speaker system and declared that the President had been shot and school would be let out early. I remember my teacher started to cry and myself and my classmates really didn’t know what was going on. It was my first experience with death.

Before I knew it, my babysitter found me and I was walking home with her. What I do remember distinctly and can picture in my minds eye so well is all the people who were out on the streets in the middle of the day running around, gathering children, and the elevator ride when I arrived in our apartment complex.

Since I was so tiny, I was surrounded by very tall adults in that elevator car, both men and woman, all of whom were weeping. But no one said a word. Usually at that hour, the elevator was empty but that day it was filled with mourners who were all in shock just as I was.

My next memory is sitting on the sofa watching the television with my grandmothers and later on with my parents. I didn’t thoroughly understand it all, but I knew at the tender age of 6 that something major had happened.

I remember watching the funeral and thinking that President and Mrs. Kennedy had children the same ages as myself and my brothers. Caroline and I were born the same year and “John John” was my brother’s age. For some strange reason, I tried to feel what it would be to lose a father, as they did, at that young age.

And as I watched them I seemed to emotionally connect with Caroline from that point on and as the years went by, I would often think of her and how difficult it must have been growing up without her Dad, regardless of his position in the world.

That was the first death that truly impacted my life and I found myself glued to the television. I can’t believe it’s been 50 years since his death, but even now, I can still see myself in that elevator looking up at all those tear-stained faces.

What do you remember about the Kennedy assasination? Share your thoughts below.

Mary Mac’s new book Holiday Grief: How To Cope With Anxiety, Stress and Depression is available now. Click here for more information.

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Mary Mac’s Amazon Best Selling Grief Book – Free till Sunday

Amazon Kindle Best Selling Book by Mary Mac
Amazon Kindle Best Selling Book by Mary Mac

To honor those directly affected by the blasts in Boston and the citizens of their great city, I’m offering a gratis copy of my Amazon Kindle Best Selling book, “Understanding Your Grieving Heart After a Loved One’s Death” until Sunday evening, April 21st.

Having experienced the murder many years ago of my stepdaughter and all the trauma that accompanied her death, I understand what is going on in the background which few others get to see.

For your free copy, click here.

Please share often with the social media links below. Available free now through Sunday night, April 21st, 2013.

Sending peace,

Mary Mac