This study uses the social psychological perspective of symbolic interactionism to examine the death notification experience of people who have lost a loved one to murder (“bereaved victims”). The data come from in-depth interviews with 32 bereaved victims whose loved ones were murdered from 1994 to 1999 in Union County (pseudonym). Bereaved victims' notification stories indicate that the interplay between thoughts and emotions in self-interaction during the first stage of grief produces two main types of emotional reactions to the news of murder: 1) feeling emotional upset (e.g., crying, screaming, hysteria) and 2) containing emotional upset (e.g., shock, disbelief, and spontaneous action). Disbelief allowed bereaved victims to cognitively control their physical expressions of emotional upset by dismissing the reality of the news of the death; the spontaneous action response allowed bereaved victims to take action on something in substitution for thinking about the loss and then feeling emotionally overwhelmed by it. Some bereaved victims indicated that they alternated between feeling intense emotional upset and cognitively containing their emotional upset through spontaneous action.