Grief following homicidal loss


This is a citation from a daughter whose father was murdered. She becomes angry when people ask her whether her father is deceased because for her, it does not capture the essence of the death cause. Her father is not deceased, he is murdered. This dissertation is about people who lost a loved one due to first degree murder, defined as the deliberate and premeditated killing of another human being, or due to second degree murder, defined as intentional killing, but without premeditation (hereafter called homicide, to capture both types of murder). These types of homicides differs from manslaughter, which is killing without intent, such as a drunken driver who causes an accident in which a passenger dies. He is legally responsible for the death because of his drunken behavior, but it is not his intention to kill someone. Crucial in homicidal loss is that the death was deliberately (and premeditatedly) caused by another person. In the Netherlands, on average between 140 and 150 individuals are murdered each year (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, 2016; Leistra, 2015). While the victim experiences the direct consequences of the violence by losing his or her life, the bereaved parents, children, siblings, partner and friends of the victim are facing the loss on a daily basis. Based on the assumption that every victim leaves on average four close bereaved individuals behind, in the Netherlands between 560 and 600 individuals become confronted with the consequences of homicidal loss each year. While this number is relatively low when compared to other (violent) death causes, the consequences in terms of psychological adjustment may potentially be quite great. In homicidal loss, bereaved individuals are not only confronted with the loss, but also with the traumatic circumstances surrounding the loss, such as waiting for the death confirmation, and an absent or violated body of the victim (Kristensen, Weisaeth, & Heir, 2012). Also, bereaved individuals have to deal with investigation by the police, the criminal justice system, media attention, and the search for the perpetrator (Amick-McMullan, Kilpatrick, Veronen, & Smith, 1989; Kaltman & Bonanno, 2003; Parkes, 1993; Riches & Dawson, 1998; Rynearson, 1994). Homicidal loss differs from traumatic experiences without the loss of a person, such as rape, and from loss without traumatic circumstances, such as loss due to illness2. Other types of losses in which bereavement and trauma are intertwined are war related loss, mass murder and school shootings. Situations in which trauma and loss coexist are a risk factor for delayed recovery (Rynearson & McCreery, 1993). Violent loss, defined as accidents, suicides and homicides (Kristensen et al., 2012), is generally associated with more mental health problems than non-violent loss, such as Complicated Grief (CG), depression, and Posttraumatic Stress-Disorder (PTSD) (Boelen, De Keijser, & Smid, 2015; Breslau et al., 1998; Burke & Neimeyer, 2013; Kristensen et al., 2012; Van Ameringen, Mancini, Patterson, & Boyle, 2008). Before presenting a schematic model of variables central to this dissertation, the following sections will first focus on two types of mental health problems, namely CG and PTSD. Only these two problems are elaborated about because these are the two main outcome measures in the studies included in this dissertation.






Mari√ętte Yvonne van Denderen

Original Work Citation

van Denderen, M. Y. (2017, January). Grief following homicidal loss. (Dissertation, University of Groningen)



“Grief following homicidal loss,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 14, 2021,

Output Formats