By: Niki Incorvia
The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
As I sit here today, it’s been almost seven years since my brother, Alex was taken from us in this life – to homicide. While the shock eventually wears off with time, the clarity of what happened only gets clearer, and I find myself with a new set of anxieties, questions, and fears surrounding my loss.
I feel fortunate enough to have the “conclusion” of a plea deal and incarceration for the person responsible, but when it was time for my victim’s impact statement, the freshness of the loss left me unable to properly articulate what I wanted to say to the courtroom; instead, I just mentioned all the dreams Alex had that he would never get to live out now that he was forever gone. However, now, it’s important to note that there’s so much more to Alex, to this loss, and how it has forever shaped my life. It’s the images of a crime that will never leave your mind, it’s the wanting to tell that person something, only to realize they are no longer here, it’s the emptiness of knowing nothing can be done to bring Alex back or wondering where they are now, and if they died knowing how much they were loved. Personally, I believe it’s only with time that we are able to verbalize how a loss of this magnitude affected us.
As someone who is seven years removed from this loss, I take a look at how much life has changed and the different directions I’ve chosen to go as a result of Alex’s sudden passing. I feel that life is now split into two parts: before Alex’s death and after Alex’s death. Much of everything I do is driven by the need to preserve Alex’s legacy and continue to honor him. For me, and my grief journey, that’s the most helpful thing I found as a way to manage my grief and sense of loss – channeling it into tangible purpose. Certain TV shows, specific support groups, and books are all helpful in managing my loss.
I find a strange comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who has lost someone in such a sudden and violent way. To me, knowing there are other homicide survivors out there, and hearing about their journeys through this grief, brings me a sense of ease, as I am not alone and this is not something only I have experienced. I also find great comfort in my two cats, both loosely named in honor of my brother and associated with his untimely passing. It’s a lot of fun to have two lively animals around me who are full of so much life and energy.
From my perspective, I think what sets homicide survivors apart from others who have also lost loved ones is perhaps replaying their family member’s last moments on this earth: How much did they know? Were they scared? What went through their mind? Were they in pain? It’s those very thoughts that often haunt us at night and those quiet times during the day when there are no distractions. Each crime and situation is unique, so the particulars of what my brother experienced during those last days, hours, minutes, and seconds is something I think about frequently.
Since he was already gone, but not yet found for a few days, I think about the stillness of those woods where Alex was for those 96 hours, and how life was still going on all around him, without him ever knowing. It seems silly to me sometimes, all the different things we do all day, when you think about how life was stagnant in those woods, for my brother, those days before he was found. He was such an active person in life, it’s ironic that he stayed there, still, for that amount of time before he was put to rest.
Right now, this is where I am in my grief journey. It was different six years ago and I’m sure it will be different six years from now. I think that’s an important thing to understand about grieving, it’s ever-changing and not something with a distinct beginning and end point. It morphs and changes as we learn to live again after the loss.
I think the word “closure” is a tough one because this type of death is never fully resolved – sure, there are different points in the journey where you are given closure to specific particulars of the situation, but it’s never fully resolved and you are never completely healed. It’s an ongoing journey for those of us left behind, and something homicide survivors need to take into consideration when taking the steps to best care for themselves after this unique loss.
Every year, families in our community are shattered by the loss of a loved one to homicide. Please consider joining us this Arizona Gives Day and donating to our cause. Your contribution will ensure we continue to provide services to Survivors, such as advocacy, support and assistance.