New here - family member murdered


New Here
Hi. My cousin who was my best friend was recently abducted and brutally murdered. The weekend she was missing was obviously terrible. Every time the police came to the house where our family was waiting for news, it got worse. 3 days after she went missing, they found her body. While I did not see her abduction or witness any part of her murder, I still feel haunted by what we now know happened to her. Could I have ptsd from this? I feel very irritable (not like me), and I am having dreams about people I know (strangely, not my cousin) being murdered. I was 35 weeks pregnant when she was killed and now have a newborn, so sleep is not really great for multiple reasons. I found this board and thought I would see what you thought. Thanks in advance for any advice. I’m just not sure how to move forward, and we are going to have a trial (thankfully they caught my cousin’s killer).


It’s a highly traumatic event that happened to someone you were close to. If you have assistance from victim services in your area, reach out to them for help. Also the birth of your child, although a welcome event is also a stressor. You’ve had a lot to deal with so no surprise you are having these symptoms. We can support but not diagnose. Sending thoughts your way that you all get the help you need to be able to journey through this horrible situation.


Could I have ptsd from this?

This would qualify for a criterion A event (exposure to aversive details of traumatic event that occurred to someone you were close to, even if you did not witness the event) however, PTSD cannot be diagnosed until after a certain period of time has passed. Right now you are in the acute stage of traumatic stress, which is a very ordinary response to enduring something horrific. At this time it is most important for you to seek out a network of support that you feel you can rely on/trust to work through the myriad emotions and reactions that will undoubtedly come up. The more solid and honest that support is, the more resiliency it will foster.


hi @kate11. Sorry for the circumstances that brought you here. My family lost 2 children to homicide, so I sympathize with what you're going through.

The dreams are totally normal, and a way of processing what happened, and your concerns for the people you care about. Try to surround yourself with as much support as you can, especially for this holiday season.

If you're not already, definitely seek therapy, both for processing now and for the eventual trial (which will be a whole new trauma).


Could I have ptsd from this?
Yes & No.

Yes, it absolutely meets the criteria.

But? It sounds like you’re in the acute trauma window where if you get help NOW, you may be able to avoid not only PTSD, but other disorders and conditions that result from trauma and stressors. And there are a whole helluva lot of them. PTSD is just the most well known outside of psych circles.

You ALSO have an added risk-factor for PPD, which is seeeeerriously crazy making (antepartum depression runs in my family, which is where you go seriously crazy whilst pregnant, but get better as soon as you give birth. PPD can run for years, since it delvopes in the absence of those hormones). Hormones? Are no freaking joke. I had to chain myself up once a day for months level of uncontrollable psychosis, and my OB/Gyn & I developed a plan for future pregnancies (once she found out what I was doing / my family history meant I thought “the suicide hours” were just a normal thing); which both meant shooting for multiples (clovid), to minimize the number of times I would be pregnant, and being admitted for my 2nd & 3rd trimesters. THAT level of no joke. (As opposed to people blowing off real and serious things as “just” hormones. OMFG. Drives me insane. You’re totally rational and eedjits blame hormones, you need real and serious help, and are blown off. Unless? You’re with pros.).

You have a LOT going on right now.

- Acute major trauma.
- Pregnancy/Birth … also probably add sleep, starvation, & sleep dep if you’re like most new moms
- Bereavement

Get help now. The best help you can find. The same way you would for finding the best schools, pediatricians, babysitters for your kid. Because even if you have “more important” things to spend your money & time on? They deserve their mommy to be the best she can be, with the best people helping her.

The social work team at your hospital is a GREAT place to start, as they’re amaaaazing references for a tremendous variety of conditions/ issues/ backgrounds... although tragic loss makes up the bulk of their workload… And it’s a highly coveted/competitive very well paid job with a Masters minimum. Great people? Know other great people. So do hit them up for a referral. “I recently gave birth at your hospital, but my cousin was just kidnapped and murdered, and I need help/resources.”

All my best to you & your little one.
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New Here
Thank you, all. I am sorry for the circumstances that have brought you here. I am going to seek out a therapist. Even though I feel like I don’t have time with a new baby in the mix, you all have helped me see the importance of it for the long run. I want to be the best mom I can be so have to take care of myself. Gosh, I’m just really missing my cousin at Christmas. Blessings to you all.
In reply to Kate11.....New here.....Family member murdered.....

There's no words to describe how traumatic this event must have been for you and it's more than understandable as to why you experience these emotions and struggle sleeping.

Your cousin was a very close friend and as she disappeared without informing anyone, the panic took over - creating that dreadful, feeling of not knowing what happened to her.

When you learnt what happened to her, nothing will have prepared you for the devastating news.

The pain you now experience goes beyond what any health professional will diagnose.

Only an appropriately qualified medical professional can 'officially' diagnose you as having PTSD.

The question....Have you got PTSD?....

Whether you have PTSD or not is not the issue here. Even if you are told that you do not medically qualify as having PTSD - this doesn't at all mean that you are not traumatised.

You are suffering from the post trauma of these tragic events and no 'official' medical diagnosis (based on 'criteria') will be able to access the depths of your suffering. Due to this, you are experiencing a very post-traumatic event that will go beyond any diagnosis.

When it comes to dealing with the mind and mental health, know one can really understand fully the amount of trauma someone has suffered - even when being professionally/medically assessed.

It's confusing. Yet all because someone is diagnosed as not having PTSD, doesn't mean that they are severely traumatised and are at risk of suffering without any help.

Nobody can ever understand what happens in the mind......

Counselling/therapy will help you to deal with this.

Although you weren't there to witness what happened to your cousin, there's enough knowledge for you to visualise the whole scene of events and have that feeling of actually being there to witness it.

This will have been due to the shock of receiving the devastating news of your cousin's death. There will also have been the powerful, mixed emotions associated with the prior trauma of waiting for news before your cousin was found.

Every time the police came forward to deliver the updates on the case, you would have been extremely anxious due to just not knowing what happened and her whereabouts.

The combination of events - both before and after knowing what happened to your cousin - will have traumatised you enough to cause the nightmares.

Unfortunately. You will be haunted by what happened to her for a long time and this will be expected under the horrible circumstances.

Feeling 'irritable' will also be expected and it's likely you will experience an array of emotions such as sadness, anger, depression, anxiety...... This is to be expected and it's only fair to be honest and say that some people will not fully understand why you feel like this.

The combined stress - yet the excitement - of expecting a baby will have added to your pressures.

The nightmares concerning death..... These dreams stem from all the trauma you have experienced and the reason for people whom you know being killed in the dreams comes from your knowledge that it can happen to us all. The dreams represent your enhanced fears right now.

The question of whether or not you have PTSD will need what could be considered an 'official' diagnosis from an appropriate professional. However. In your case, it's not about whether or not you have actual PTSD. It's about you having experienced significant emotional trauma.

This trauma is more than enough to have a powerful impact upon your life - so it may well be worth considering counselling/therapy (regardless of any diagnosis).

Talking about your cousin when she was alive and discussing all the positive experiences you had together, everything you did or went through together - through good times and bad - will help you to focus on celebrating her very short life.

Everything you have written in your post can be addressed through counselling. Talking about your cousin's initial disappearance and the emotional impact. Talking about the trauma of the police updates during the disappearance.....

Then addressing the impact of finding out what happened to her. Followed by your own trauma concerning the nightmares and so on.

All of these events can be addressed through counselling and that can be achieved whether or not you have been officially diagnosed with PTSD.

The counselling will also go on to explore more in depth about your experience - rather than being assessed to meet a certain 'criteria' in order to be classed as having a certain mental health issue.

Of course. It goes without saying, that you should seriously consider having a professional assessment for PTSD....Especially if you have been advised to.

However. It's again important to stress that you have been traumatised, whatever anyone else diagnoses and the most important aspect for your situation is not just a diagnosis but a full understanding of your situation.

Your cousin died in very tragic circumstances, which means you'll be suffering quietly for a long time to come. The counselling will help you to explore your emotions, the nightmares, possible flashbacks/visions that will still come along (even without being witness to the events) and the general sadness.

The counselling will help you to come to terms with having to deal with the legal process and any involvement needed to deal with the murderer's trial, sentencing and accepting that they will continue life in prison.

Or....You may find that the punishment they receive is not as harsh as you were hoping for. This can happen and if it does, you'll perhaps need help to deal with that.

Another issue is being able to find some 'closure' to all of this. The funeral of your cousin and the final outcome of the criminal proceedings will help towards finding this. It's not a great consolation but it will help you find some peace.

You now have a young child to care for, which will only make it all too clear how precious and fragile our lives are.

This is a very hard time for you, yet you don't need anyone to tell you how important it is to look after yourself. Your new baby is now your first priority. Think back to the all the time you spent with your cousin and how you gave your time, love and commitment to being her best friend....

Now focus that energy on your child. It's a way of looking back on life with your cousin, yet looking (and moving) forward with your child.