How do I help my friend & her kids through this? (long)

My best friend’s (Carla*) ex-husband (Greg*) was charged, almost 2 weeks ago, with 1st Degree Murder.

She and her ex have been separated 8 1/2 years and they have joint custody of their 13 & 11 yr old daughters.

In January, Greg’s mother-in-law was found murdered in her home. He was a suspect all along, and almost 2 weeks ago he was arrested at work.

Carla is just beside herself. The evidence on him is pretty rock solid from what I understand. She has explained this to her girls, and the oldest is having the most problem with this. She understands better what is happening than her younger sister, who has some developmental delays.

In all honesty, as soon as I heard about the murder, my first thought is that he did it. A LOT of people had the same gut reaction, including my friend. He has a history of abuse and criminal tendancies, along with a nasty drug habit.

This is going to be a long, drawn out process. How do I help my friend get though this? How do I help those girls, who are more like nieces to me than just my friends kids? Both girls are in therapy btw.

They have a step dad, but he isn’t a replacement for the void that this whole thing has brought.

Does anyone have any words of wisdom?

*Not their real names

Just be there for them, and let them know you are available if you need to talk. I think it is a good thing the girls are in therapy - this is going to be very stressful for them.

I wouldn’t bring it up every time you see them, though - if they want to talk about it they will bring it up. Sometimes they may just not want to think about it.

I’m sorry for your friend and her kids. That is an awful thing to have happen to them.

There are therapists who specialize in working with people whose lives have been impacted by crime. I know that families of murder victims can often get names of these therapists through the police department. I’d have her talk to her regular family therapists and see if she can get the name of one of these people.

It would probably be helpful for all three of them to speak to someone like that. That kind of specialist could probably help your friend learn ways to talk to her kids about this along the way. It will be hard enough to have a father go to prison for 25 to life, but the lengthy ordeal of a trial can be very confusing and stressful, even for people on the sidelines.

Best wishes to your friend.

I’m with Snakescatslady. Let them know that you’re there, that you respect how hard this is for them, and that you won’t dodge the issue or freak out about it if they want to talk about it.

If I’m reading this correctly, BioDad is suspected of murdering Maternal Grandma?

In serious legal matters involving inter-family crime, it is critical to leave the kids out of it. As in not making them take sides or responsibility for the events in contention.

However, they should be privy to the age-appropriate facts.

Be there to listen, and to take pressure off the mother. Keep mom strong, and she’ll take care of the kids.

I believe the situation is that BioDad murdered the mother of his second wife, not his children’s grandmother.

SnakesCatLady is right, it was his second wife’s mother.

I am doing everything suggested. I don’t bring it up unless they do. I’m trying my best to support and listen to my friend. She’s going through the “what-if” stage right now.

This sucks.

How horrible.

Are they old enough to understand the principle of presumption of innocence?

If you are as close as blood to these kids, it might help if you went to a session or two with a therapist. Not necessarily theirs, though your friend may think it’s a good idea to invite you. But a professional will let you know how to respond to things. I’d be semi-paralyzed wondering if I was saying the right thing and not wanting to make things worse. It may only take a couple sessions to get the hang of how to handle it. Good luck.

My half-sister was involved in a homicide in January. The day I found out was the same day that she and her latest boyfriend were killed by police in a shoot-out in Kansas. Our mother was a police officer for years, and we have always been taught to respect and obey the law. It has been unthinkable to figure out how my sister could have given up everything she knew and once believed in to become a murderer. I wish I could give you some good advice for helping your friend. I think the hardest thing for me has been to make that leap from how someone I love could do such a heinous crime. I’ve been feeling guilt by association–wanting to write the family of the man my sister helped kill, but not wanting to do so at the same time–going through all the what ifs, etc. It shook my whole world. I feel guilty for mourning my sister, and guilty for feeling so much pain. I’ve always been acutely aware of the difficulties that the families of the victims experience. I never realized before how much pain the families of the criminals go through. Just being there for your friend is probably the best thing you can do. My friends definitely helped me get through this.

Do your best to make them feel like they are still “normal.” There’s a certain “hands-off” thing that goes on when people don’t know how to react to something. It can make the person feel very alienated.

God…that is just awful. I’m so sorry for your family. I think most people don’t realize that so many people are devastated by these kinds of things.