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“All human life has its seasons, and no one’s personal chaos can be permanent: winter, after all does not last forever does it? There is summer, too, and spring, and though sometimes when branches stay dark and the earth cracks with ice, one thinks they will never come, that spring, that summer, but they do, and always.” T.Capote


Survivors of Violent Loss (SVL) first began as a pilot project to provide and research services for this population. Founder, Connie Saindon, spearheaded this effort in collaboration and support of with many in the community. It was called the Homicide Support Project and received training funded by  the National Organization for Victims of Crime from the two top programs in the country: Ted Rynearson’s Program in Seattle, Washington  and Deborah Spungen’s work in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The project was designed to compare pre and post screening data to assess effectiveness of the Restorative Retelling model developed by Ted Rynearson, MD.  SVL contributed 69% of the data for this study. Results indicated decreased symptoms on all criteria measured.  Frontline, a psychiatry newsletter, reported the results and credited it as a promising approach.   Currently, SVL has collected  data  since 1998 with similar results that have been published in the professional journal Death Studies (2013) . SVL existed since 1998 under other non-profits  such as Victim Assistance Coordinating Council, UCSD Outpatient Psychiatry,  and First Ave Counseling Centre.  In 2008, SVL obtained its own Non-profit status and moved to its current location under The Center for Mindful Relationships, 2011.

SVL provides the specialized counseling services, so frequently needed after the violent death of a loved one. Traditionally such services and programs have been inaccessible and scarce in all communities.   Survivors of Violent Loss  (SVL) Mission is to provide a lifeline of hope and healing re-building lives that have been shattered by the violent loss of a loved one. SVL provides counseling services, resource information, education and peer support opportunities  to those who have lost someone to homicide, suicide, drunk-driving, terrorist fatalities and war by a team of professionals trained in this evidence based model. .  Ten years of pre and post screening results show a significant decrease in symptoms by participants. SVL’s founder is among the nationally recognized leaders in this specialized field. SVL’s website is an international resource.

Two events created by our Founder continue today: the annual River of Remembrance and the Holiday Memorial. These provide opportunities for peer support and remembering loved ones. 

What Makes Us Unique

  • We are there when others leave…
  • We are  one of the few  services for Violent Death Bereavement
  • We are trained in the kind of grief that does not go away with time.
  • We provide opportunities for Survivors to be with each other.
  • We provide information and resources.
  • Our approach includes lessons from survivors.
  •  We have research to support interventions.

                                                         About Us –

Bios Connie Saindon, MFT is the Founder and Clinical Director of the Survivors of Violent Loss Program which began as the Homicide Support Project in early 1998. Connie  currently provides program development, oversight, supervision and training.  She is co-author of a three year Pilot Study for the Restorative Retelling Model  and has presented her work at National Conferences.  Ms Saindon is listed among the few Violent Death Bereavement Specialists, internationally and a recognized leader in the Violent Death Bereavement Society. 

Ms. Saindon has conducted numerous community presentations and media interviews. She has served on a National Board on Community Grief and is a contributing author of “Violent Death: Resilience and Intervention Beyond the Crisis”. Based on the Restorative Retelling model, she authored of an adult self-help workbook called “The Journey”, to reach many who do not have access to this promising approach. Her work includes consultant services nationally including the Department of Defense as a Military and Family Life Consultant. Contact Connie directly at  

Advisory Team Members:

Sidney Zisook, MD serves as consultant to the Survivors of Violent Loss Program and is director of the University of California, San Diego Residency Training Program, and a Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD. Dr. Zisook’s research centers on mood as both a primary and secondary manifestation/disorder. Much of his research has been focused on the natural history, differentiation from depression and treatment of grief and bereavement.

Honorary Clinical Contributor: Ted Rynearson, MD serves as consultant to Survivors of Violent Loss Program. He is a practicing, clinical psychiatrist in Seattle, Washington. Since his semi-retirement five years ago he has devoted more time and energy to researching the effects of complicated bereavement and violent death. He is a national and international clinical teacher, lecturing and training clinicians and service providers who restore loved ones after violent dying. During his spare time he is an avid jazz fan and rows each morning on Puget Sound in his single scull — when the weather permits. He is the founder of Violent Loss Bereavement Society.

Stephen Schuchter, MD. Retired, former Medical Director of UCSD Outpatient Psychiatric Service and a well known publisher and researcher on various topics including bereavement issues. Dr Shuchter also served as the Medical Director of the Survivors of Violent Loss Program 



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