How to find peace after you or a loved one has been the victim of violent crime

My brother was beaten in his home by a friend who was mentally ill and left to die in October 1993. His body was discovered by a plumber I felt prompted to contact. (I live four hours away.) In finding peace, I suggest the following:

  • Seek direction and comfort from the Lord, then listen very carefully. Ask for priesthood blessings. Prayer and scriptures are a great solace.
  • Join support groups through the community to share the immense burden that is too heavy to carry alone. Sharing your experience helps others, also. Surviving grief is the hardest work you’ll ever do. It takes incredible courage. It is purging and healthy to cry.
  • Try not to make major life-changing decisions during grief. Try to get enough sleep and eat well. It’s OK to ask for help. Expect irrational thoughts and confusion. Be nice to yourself.
  • Try to let go of the rage. For me, I read all the police reports, asked a coroner to explain the autopsy and attended all the hearings. Last February, I asked to speak directly to my brother’s murderer. Then could I truly feel I had full compassion and forgiveness for him. Forgiveness is the only way to heal, and that doesn’t happen superficially or automatically. Give your anger an outlet in exercise, singing, writing in your journal, speaking or whatever works for you.
  • Forgive well-meaning people who think you should have worked through the phases of grief long ago. Grief is different for each individual. Not everyone will be compassionate. You will learn who to share with and when. The Lord Himself, through the Holy Spirit, will walk with you.
  • Avoid things that depress, like violent movies or song lyrics that recall similar violence.
  • Do something in memory of your loved one. I planted a bleeding heart in my flower garden in memory of my brother Albert. Also, my sister, other brother and I share favorite memories of him.

— Bonnie Vanecek Bruce, Red Wing, Minn.