new series link

New Series entries:  Parallel Justice by Susan Herman, Poem-I will cry again…, How to Survive a School Shooting

Murder Survivors Handbook has been well received across the country and won the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best in Self Help by Independent Book Publishers. A great deal of reading, interviewing, collecting stories and viewing took place to gather information for this book. My premise was that none of us knows it all.  While it would be impossible to capture everything for such a resource book, I was content to give enough variance and links, so each reader would feel less alone and have more information for their new and treacherous journey.

I plan to introduce one of these sources each month.  I will select them in no order but as they come to me.  Each resource is of equal importance as is each homicide. The second in this series is Parallel Justice by Susan Herman which was inspired by her over 30 years criminal justice experience including as executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime.

You will hear my comments and poem that provides suggestions as does Herman’s book about what each of us can do as it relates to violent death.    To read more follow the link below:

Also, I have just received this guide from colleague and friend Vilma Torres, staff director at the Family Justice Center, Bronx, New York. Click on this link: 

Surviving School Shooting Trauma by Claire Lampen in Teen Vogue

Connie Saindon, MFT, Founder


New Series Announcement by Connie Saindon

One of the most rewarding aspects of writing Murder Survivors Handbook (MSH), published in 2014, was the reading I did while doing my research.  MSH has been used successfully as a resource for those who have lost a loved one to homicide and those who have worked with them.  It was the winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best in Self Help.  Victim Advocacy agencies, counselors, chaplains, nonprofit counseling services along with hospice agencies and more have several copies on hand to give to clients.  Individuals have bought them for themselves and members of their families as they navigate the months and years ahead of their unwelcome journey of life after homicide.

Here’s a comment from a grieving mother who currently spends her days in a courtroom:

I’m in the middle of pre-trial. I take this book with me to court; I read it as I am there when I run into a problem or hear something I don’t understand. I have it with me at all times. As I read the stories it helps me see this is exactly how I am feeling during pre-trial and I am careful in everything I do there. I encourage everyone who is going to court to buy this even before then. When my son died, I didn’t understand why detectives were not telling me anything. I wondered if they were even doing anything; during pre-trial I heard just how hard they were working on the investigation. I keep this book close, still reading it. Thank you to everyone who took part in making this book happen.

I read, viewed and interviewed whatever I thought might strengthen the information in this book.  My premise was that none of us knew it all.   While it would be impossible to capture everything for a resource book, I was content to give enough variance, so each reader would feel less alone and find some but not all the resources on their new and treacherous journey.   To do the work on this book, the larger the pool of information and experience the greater the possibility.

Thirty-nine colleagues from criminal justice, psychology and literature across the nation offered edits, reviews or examples.   The real-life stories from thirteen anonymous survivor writers answer questions if they could for each of the ten chapters.  Each murder victim is different in age, family order and place in the community and these real stories reflect that.  Over one hundred contributors can be proud of this resource that has been so well received.

I plan to introduce one of these sources each month.  I will select them in no order of importance but as they come to me.  Each resource is of equal importance as is each homicide.

The first in this series is a book published in 2009 by a reporter and editor for the Boston Globe: The Ride by Brian Macquarrie.

Tips for Handling the Holidays after a Loved One has Died

Don’t be surprised at the power of unexpected pangs of grief, also knows as SUGS (Sudden upsurges of Grief).  Recognize that it is not unusual to re-experience waves of intense sadness.  Find places to have quiet times until these pass.  Keep yourself safe while reducing your expectations. This is not a normal event.  These reactions are NORMAL.

Arrange to be with others who have gone through a similar loss.  Set up times to be with family and friends.  Know that the first year can often be the most difficult. Being with others who know some of what you are going through reduces the need to explain.  You and other co-victims are there to listen to one another.  Limit your contact with difficult people. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that avoidance is bad.

Create new traditions and rituals. Such as assign a new person to conduct the tasks that your loved one did at holiday events in their name. Set up an event before the actual holiday event specifically to remember your loved one. Such as: Begin creating an album of memories, to tell stories of your loved one, have some of their favorite foods to share with family and friends.

Start an annual tradition of making or purchasing an ornament to be included in your annual decorations that symbolize something that reminds you of your loved one.

Most of all, reduce your expectations, pace yourself and do less this year. This may be the start of putting more meaning into the holidays for you.

And remember that although your physical contact with your loved one is gone, your relationship with them lives on.  Help those  of us who carry the burden remember the memory of your loved one too.

For More  go to:

Wishing you well,

Connie Saindon, LMFT



These news items are being posted on the heels of the worst shooting incident in our country.  This first entry is from  Marina; who is one of the Survivor Writers, in Murder Survivors Handbook and The Journey-learning to live with violent death.  She tells of one example of being triggered, an experience that many of you who have worked or lived with violent death experience in an out of your lives. With this latest incident in Las Vegas, we are adding hundreds who will be triggered in the future as well.

Trigger Warning

This year my husband and I encountered a very problematic situation which took a profound toll on our mental and physical well-being.  We rented a vacation house in the desert in an attempt to restore our peace of mind.  I was on edge when we arrived, so I took a stroll into the spacious back yard of the rental.  As I approached a quiet corner of the property, I spotted a naked male human body lying face-down.  It appeared to be in an advanced state of decomposition.  Feeling a great deal of bemusement and curiosity, I got closer, and chuckled in surprise as I realized that I was looking at a life-sized concrete statue!  It would have been horrific if I had seen this “playful” piece of yard art years earlier, after my father’s murder.  You see, his body was found in his bedroom— naked, lying face-down.  I silently congratulated myself for remaining calm.   I only share this story as a caution.  A survivors, we must strive to remain aware of the presence of triggers.  They surround us, and can appear suddenly, without warning.  You don’t have to go looking for them.  They will come to you. 


Murder Survivor's Handbook: Real-life Stories, Tips & Resources                                                     The_Journey_front_cover web

Restorative Retelling Group begins October 11 with Connie Saindon,  MFT and Tammy Carter, MFTI.  Screening is still available for future ten week groups.  Contact Tammy at 619-685-0005.

Restorative Retelling Training in San Diego is being postponed for a future date.  Contact Connie Saindon at 629-685-0005 if you have an interest in bringing this important training to San Diego or your community. Training is also available for Criminal Death Support Groups as well.

Judi Earnest, Homicide Bereavement Therapist,  has completed two days of  Restorative Retelling training for work with her agency.  She is also the recipient of twelve donated “The Journey-Learning to Live with Violent Death” workbooks.  She can be reached at Wayside-Blackstone Valley Community Services in Milford, Massachusetts at (508) 469 3111.

Postponed for a future date

Two Day Training in

Clinical use of the Restorative Retelling Model

An evidence based treatment for traumatic grief after a violent death.

Postponed for a future date


Violent Loss Resources Newsletter, May, 2017


 Topic of the Month:

Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying Conference

 News:  Free Monthly Meetings in San Diego as well as upcoming            

Restorative Retelling Groups. 

Resources of the Month: South Africa, Philadelphia, Christine                                                                               Grimmie

  Inspiration: Sandy Hook Four Years Later

 Question of the Month-What are you doing to move forward?

Topic of the Month: Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying Conference held April 8 & 9 in La Jolla, CA  received  outstanding reviews from attendees, presenters who donated their time and the planning committee who worked on this project for a year.  

 Here is what they said:

The most valuable part was the experienced speakers and the depth of knowledge from the presenters.  the survivors insight was invaluable.IMG_4395-sunday End with Dr Rynearson

Best conference I have ever attended.  Usually I am waiting for the conference to end, but not this time.  Thank you again for an outstanding conference.  I have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from  my staff.

The resounding passion of professionals who work with these issues.

Beautiful, comfortable venue, well-organized presentations, and a jaw-dropping series of speakers . There was a sense of shared purpose that could not be denied.  People are very excited about Restorative Retelling.

Best conference we have ever held. IMG_4346 bubbles (1)





Stay tuned to where the next conference will be, and let us know if you wish to partner with us to bring one to your city. Follow this newsletter blog or contact Laura Jeffs, at Virginia Mason Separation and Loss services.

For more photos of the conference go to Saturday Photos and Sunday Photos


Free Monthly Meetings in San Diego are starting as well as upcoming Restorative Retelling Groups and Services.    Restorative Retelling is an evidence based approach that has helped reduce the symptoms for survivors that have lost someone to a violent death.  The first meeting is May 16, 6:30pm in convenient Mission Valley. Contact Tammy Carter, MFTI for more information and the address at 619-685-0005.

 Resource of the Month:   This section of the newsletter usually introduces you to one resource but this newsletter is different.  Three new resources will be added as we are excited about the important work they are doing.  Please visit their websites and thank them for being a part of the solution and helping to expand resources for those following a violent death.

National Homicide Justice Alliance/ Justice for Alex Now

National Homicide Justice Alliance(1)

We are families of murder victims who are uniting to find justice for our loved ones, to support one another to find healing and promote peace in our communities.

Their Vision: To facilitate the union of a grassroots alliance of families of homicide.  We are the persons most directly affected by homicide and gun violence. We will focus on determining our own needs as families of homicide victims, advising, fostering programs, and promoting legislation, which will work for peace and justice and the cause of families of homicide victims.

The Christina Grimmie Foundation

On June 10, 2016, Christina Grimmie  was a fan favorite of NBC’s  The Voice who died of gunshot wounds inflicted in a targeted attack that followed her concert performance in Orlando, Florida.

Her foundation was set up as a legacy to her and her website says: Some stars shine so brightly that they shine forever.  When families encounter tragedy, we support them, with love.  The Christina Grimmie foundation exists to support families who have lost a loved one to gun violence and support for families facing breast cancer diagnosis.

Modiegi Sekedi Motlhabane Foundation 

The foundation  is an Nonprofit  located in South Africa founded after the murder of her daughter by her mother Patricia who writes:

 Good evening, this e-mail serves the appreciation of finding your program of the impact of violent death to families-restorative retelling model on the internet. I am one of the mothers impacted.I was doing a lot of mistakes when running the homicide support group without guide lines/materials, but since I started studying your collaboration data my practice has improved a lot, I wish to see you visiting SOUTH AFRICA, people here are brutally murdered to xenophobic, taxi war, bank armed robbery, intimate relationships and so on, families need to be attended but how, so many marches were done but xenophebic attack is prolonging and dying violently is spreading. This Foundation was the recipient of several of The Journey Workbooks. 

Inspiration: 60 Minutes Returns to Newtown

In case you missed it, click on the link below to catch the 60 Minutes follow-up with families in Newtown who lost first graders and educators.  There are touching messages of the forever pain that exists and inspirational missions that families are working on to make a difference and honor their loved ones.

Jimmy Greene: There have been those that have said things like, “You know, so you guys are good now?” Or “I hope you’ve had some closure to your daughter’s murder.” In the back of my heart and I know in Nelba’s, as well, it’s like our family will never be intact again. Our daughter, Ana, was 6 years old.

60 Minutes returns to Newtown Four Years Later

Question of the Month-What are you doing to move forward?
Like us on  Facebook:

Facebook: Survivorsof Violent Loss

Read much more in…

webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500web       The_Journey_front_cover web

Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact us

Connie Saindon:
Larry Edwards:

Check out this editorial by the LA TIMES 3/31/17

The death penalty doesn’t bring closure so much as it extends trauma

Quote: “studies have found that capital-murder trials and executions rarely bring a sense of closure, or peace, to the families.”

Quote: “Grief, as those who have experienced it can attest, never really goes away. But it does fade with time. It takes much longer to fade, however, if the criminal justice system, in its misguided thirst for taking one life to atone for loss of another, forces the grief-stricken and traumatized to keep reliving the moment — cruel and unusual punishment, if you will, for those who are guilty of nothing.”

Thanks to Larry Edwards for forwarding this information. In my work with families since 1995, I concur with this editorial as this is the sentiment  I hear from most families.

Appreciations to all who ask the important questions of what truly helps these families.  It may be that we need to reduce blaming anyone and look at what we steer people towards.  There are few studies that give us this information.

When the criminal justice system does its job it has put someone away that is a danger to society and prevented someone from being wrongly convicted.  It is not the solution for families who say they have a life sentence. The criminal justice system is designed to deal with the crime and the criminal.  It’s job is not to resolve the trauma that impacts folks whose loved one was murdered.  While there is room for them to reduce adding more trauma to families, it is not their job to work with the traumatic grief that accompanies homicide.

As popular a topic as Murder is, there is still too few resources for families after a murder. This overwhelming,  intense and horrific experience puts families at risk for depression, post traumatic disorder and substance abuse. Family includes up to 11 members  not just the one you see that may speak for the family.  The absorption in the criminal case prevents most from getting the trauma support that would alter their longer term adjustment.

Instead there is a misguided push by many around these families and the families themselves to seek and get justice via the criminal justice system.  Families become absorbed by the workings of a system they know little about and have little voice in.

Families do not realize this until sometime after the sentence is passed. They live four or more years waiting for a trial to end with interruptions, postponements and lives on hold. Families who’s case got  “life in prison without the possibility of parole” escape the revisiting of their case by periodic and painful reliving of parole hearings but true justice for all would be to have their loved ones returned.  There are many who never see their case go to trial.

So, let’s not argue about who is or isn’t doing something but move to work together and not make claim that any one of our solutions is THE SOLUTION.  We all have something to contribute and survivors voices will light our path.

Thank you for all that you do,

Connie Saindon


virginia_mason_logoRegister NOW!!   see belowucsandiego_logo

April 8 and 9, 2017

Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying Conference

Virginia Mason Separation and Loss Services and UC San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, are pleased to offer a two-day conference on Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying on Saturday and Sunday, April 8 and 9, 2017 from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm at UCSD’s International House in La Jolla, CA.

With generous support from the Caldera-Saindon Grant, we are able to offer this two-day training for a fee of only $150/person plus an additional $35 for 15 CEU credits.

Featured speakers (partial list):

  • Ted Rynearson, MD, Clinical Professor, University of Washington and Medical Director, Virginia Mason Separation and Loss Services
  • Richard Gold, MA, Founder, Pongo Publishing
  • Larry Taylor, DMin, BCC, Chief Chaplain, VA San Diego Healthcare System
  • Lori Montross, PhD, Family Support Psychologist, Moores Cancer Center
  • Summer Stephan, Chief Deputy District Attorney, San Diego County
  • Vilma Torres, LMSW, Director, Safe Horizon Bronx Family Justice Center
  • BethAnn Holzhay, MSW, Director, Bronx DA Crime Victims Assistance Unit
  • Connie Saindon, MA, LMFT, Founder, Survivors of Violent Loss Program
  • Saul Levine, MD, Professor Emeritus, UC San Diego
  • Charles Nelson, PhD, Founder/Director, Crime and Trauma Recovery Program
  • Sidney Zisook, MD, Distinguished Professor, UC San Diego
  • Robert Neborsky MD, Clinical Professor, UC San Diego

Register Now!!

  For questions, email Laura Jeffs, Program Coordinator, at or call (206) 223-6398.

fvsai_logo  ivat_logo  This training is co-sponsored by The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT).  IVAT is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  IVAT maintains responsibility for this continuing education program and its content.  This course meets the qualifications for __ hours of continuing education credit for MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.  IVAT is approved by the California Board of Registered Nurses to offer continuing education for nurses (CEP #13737).  IVAT is approved by the State Bar of California to offer Minimum Continuing Legal Education for attorneys (#11600).  CE credits approved by CA agencies are accepted in most states.     For information on continuing education, contact


Survivors of Violent Loss exists to build a lifeline of hope and healing by providing support and education to those who live and work with violent death. Coping isn't easy. Survivors of Violent Loss can help. (619) 685-0005