Families of people who have been executed receive little sympathy for their grief and little recognition of the execution’s traumatic impact. Their grief is disenfranchised in that the loss cannot be publicly mourned and is not socially supported (Doka, 1989; Jones & Beck, 2006).
This paper describes an attempt to address some of the harm to families of executed persons through the creation of a private support gathering and public remembrance ceremony. Designed by the organisation Murder Victim’s Families for Human Rights, the ceremony gave participating family members an opportunity to come together, mark their losses publicly through a symbolic act, have their grief witnessed by others, and acknowledge both the murder victim and the family member who had been executed. As a demonstration of the value of public and communal ceremony in the aftermath of traumatic loss, this discussion offers and example of a way to respond to losses that have been stigmatised and re-establish community among those whose grief has been disenfranchised.