. . . Participants were adamant, therefore, that closure could never occur because what was lost could never be regained. Edmund Tarver opted to define closure as the comfort of life before loss: “How can I terminate or end the pain that goes along with how you miss that person. . . . somehow to get over that pain and you know have that comfort that I knew before, but I know that’s not ever going to come.” Many observed that closure would only come with death. Family member Angela Richerson’s mother, Norma Jean Johnson, was an executive secretary with the Defense Investigative Services on the third floor of the Murrah Building who was murdered in the bombing. She stressed, “I hate the word closure. . . . there won’t be closure till I am dead.”

With no possibility for closure this side of the grave, participants had to adjust to the knowledge that their identities were fundamentally changed, and that they would have to live with the event. “It’s a part of you just like every good thing [that] happened. . . . It never goes away,” explained Diane Leonard. Doris Jones described the inability to ignore memories of the bombing through a particularly apt analogy: “There is no closure. It’s like a chain or a bracelet or a ring; it’s all one. And when you take a piece out of it . . . that piece is gone. So it’ll never be complete. . . . So there is no such thing as closure, but you can come to terms with it.”

. . . closure is not restricted to grief maintenance or vengeance-seeking behaviors. Instead, it is a balancing act that demands that victims’ families simultaneously manage a multitude of concerns such as remembering the victim, representing the victim, channeling emotion into effective outlets, following legal proceedings, insisting on recognition, and moderating outward displays of anger and other emotions. Should any of these spinning plates fall to the ground, the whole act may collapse.

. . . Murder transports people into radically different experiential worlds. There can be no readiness or anticipatory mourning.

. . . For McVeigh, the Murrah Building teemed with enemy noncombatants, and he, a patriotic warrior, would lead the attack that wound vindicate the government’s deadly actions at Waco, Ruby Ridge, and elsewhere.

killing mcveigh-2


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