U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Accommodation To Violent Dying: A Guide to Restorative Retelling and Support

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2008
77 pages

This instructional aid provides guidance and tools for victim service providers in assisting family members victimized by the criminal violent death of another family member.


Clinical studies have documented the commonality of a syndrome of combined trauma distress (intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and dreams of the dying), even though the death of the loved one was rarely witnessed. This syndrome usually diminishes within months of the death, but may be characterized by a prolonged and dysfunctional bereavement syndrome in a minority of family members and friends. In the case of a criminally caused death, public repetition of the dying may prolong and intensify bereavement. The corporate author of the current report, the Violent Death Bereavement Society, has treated about 2,000 family members with a community-based protocol with a dynamic clinical model, which is a systematic process for screening for high-risk and specific short-term group intervention called Restorative Retelling. The rationale, features, and effects of this model are described in this report. Results of the use of the model are reported for 54 subjects who participated in the pilot study. Although this study lacked a random assignment to an intervention or control group, the results support the power of the peer group as a matrix for stress reduction and supportive re-exposure for highly distressed family members after the violent death of another family member. Instruments and procedures used in the study are provided. 1 table, 40 references, and appended program materials   

Date Published: July 1, 2008