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Violent Loss Resources Newsletter

April 1, 2016 (No fooling!)

News you can use


Dealing with the News Media/Social Media
Resource of the Month—VSS
“The Journey” Is a Finalist in IBPA Book Awards
Question of the Month—”Latest News” Triggers/Alerts
Candlelight Vigil Update

Topic of the Month: Dealing with the News Media

This is an important topic and one which few are prepared for. Here  is an excerpt from Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources:

We can’t choose to not have this horrible thing happen to us. . . . But we can choose how we react to it. Please respect our need to be alone and . . . have that personal time to continue on our journey of grief in the way that serves us.

—First Selectman Pat Llodra, Newtown, Connecticut, Dec. 9, 2013

Where to Begin?webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500web
It would be a mistake to not guide you in describing your loved one. In preparation for working with others, it is important to identify who your loved one was and what you want others to know about them. The public is learning about what happened to your loved one. It is important that you have some say about who they were. Write down who they were: at home, at school or work, and in community involvement. What did they do for fun? What was important to them?

Many of our survivors tell us that no one asked this question before. The focus has been on what happened, who did it, and what is the update on the search for justice. This question is vital when it comes to dealing with the news media, social media, and others. It may be very hard to talk about your loved one’s life as their death absorbs your focus and attention.

It may be useful to have conversations with other people who knew them, too: family members, friends, neighbors, peers. Ask people to write down what they remember. We provide many tips and ideas from a variety of sources for you and your family to use as a guide in dealing with the news and social media later in this chapter.

Read more in Chapter Three in Murder Survivor’s Handbook for more information.

Resource of the Month: Victim Support Services (VSS) in Everett, Washington.

I had IMG_2325the opportunity to visit this organization in February, and was greeted with a warm reception and a tour of their facilities. Their ability to partner and collaborate with their community was shown at their annual Breakfast/Lunch Event attended by Prosecutors, other Criminal Justice Agencies, Survivors, Service Agencies and the News Media.

Go visit them and say Hi. By partnering and collaboration with other like agencies and professionals, our service to Crime Victims can only be strengthened.

Marge Fairweather - VSS

Marge Fairweather

VSS Executive Director Marge Fairweather (right) has steered a strong course with many partners. VSS has experienced considerable growth over the years and serves all crime victims by managing Washington State’s Crime Victim Service Center 24 hours a day. They have met the challenge of serving a large area as their staff of service providers, advocates and volunteers are located in several surrounding counties.



The_Journey_front_cover web

The Journey: Learning to Live with Violent Death, by Connie Saindon, is a finalist in the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Awards. This self-help book leads people through a healing process after losing a family member or friend in a violent death. The winners will be announced on April 8.

Last year, Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources, also by Connie Saindon, won the Benjamin Franklin Gold Award in the Self-Help category.

Both books were edited by Larry Edwards and published by Wigeon Publishing.



Question of the Month

How are you impacted and what do you do when you hear of the latest news of violent death such as a murder of mass shooting?

One of my clinical interns, Erin Falvey said that she no longer watched the news on TV. She was exposed to the real stories of the clients we served who had lost someone in a violent way at the Survivors of Violent Loss Program . Instead she read the news on the computer. Her very adaptive choice gave her some distance from the emotional content of images and words. Today she is a successful executive director at a nonprofit agency.

I wrote a poem, “I will Cry Again,” which is included in the Murder Survivor’s Handbook, expresses how we all get triggered by new events; it is the nature of trauma. Creativity can come from devastating events. Many who never claimed such talents are surprised at what they can do.

Doing nothing doesn’t seem to be a good answer as the stress of these events continue to add on to previous events, whether you live or work with violent death. Marilyn Amour’s work at the University of Texas in Austin reveals that “taking deliberate action” can provide meaning for many.

This is a conversation that would help us all to continue to have. There are  many examples here. Please send us what your experience is and what you do. What you report just may help someone else. (See below for contact information.)

Annual JSCK Candlelight Vigil Follow-Up

I don’t know Melina Phillips Sellers as much as many of you do. Most of us know the story that has forever linked us to her, though. You will find more about her and her son’s friend at The Jonathan Sellers & Charlie Keever Foundation website.

When she asked me to attend her annual JSCK Candlelight Vigil last month, I learned of a wisdom that she and her team have. I was truly impressed with the honor guard of Buffalo Soldiers at the event and the airy, soothing work of a team of dancers. The wisdom of using cultural and healing methods interspersed with listening to difficult realities was very creative and helpful to the attendees.

The Foundation she represents has many endeavors, so please let her know you would love to support her and learn more about the important work she and her team are doing.

Milena Sellers Phillips and Connie Saindon

Milena Sellers Phillips and Connie Saindon

Hawaiian dancers.

Hawaiian dancers

Participants in the 2016 JSCK Candlelight Vigil

Participants in the 2016 JSCK Candlelight Vigil













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 What you missed last month:

Grief and Trauma: Self-Care Tips
Arizona Homicide Survivors Program
New Book: The Journey: Learning to Live with Violent Death
Question of the Month: Funeral Services


Add your Voice and Tips

Subscribe now … and follow up to let us know by adding your comments to anything in this newsletter.

Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact us

Connie Saindon:
Larry Edwards:

Violent Loss Resources
News you can use… collected for you in February (Scroll down to see all)
The News You Can Use…. will feature resources for those who live and work with violent death. Collective contributing will expand the resources for us all. What you tried, what worked for you may help someone else.
The plan is to feature Resources, Tips and True Experiences. Each month will feature a focus on one topic. Contents will vary somewhat month to month, as we close out this month, our contents include:
New Name
Mark Your Calendar for March 10, 6:30 pm -details below

Topic of the month: Grief and Resiliency
Question of the month- Funeral Homes- What was your experience and tips?
Resource of the Month: Tucson Arizona’s Homicide Survivors Program
The Journey: Learning to Live with Violent celebrates with local authors.
Add your Voice and Tips

Survivors of Violent Loss has a new name: to reflect changes and its outreach. The new website and newsblog will be called: Violent Loss Resources . This new site will be a resource for folks across the country in various size communities, agencies and family forms.
2016Vigil11San Diego Event hosted by Jonathan Sellers and Charlie Keever Foundation has their 5th Annual Candlelight Vigil. Please bring a picture of your loved one for the memorial table. Candles will be provided. For more information go to: candlelightvigil


February Topic: Grief and Resiliency
Look at Chapter Two in Murder Survivors Handbook for more information on grief and resiliency. Here are excerpts:
Grief and Trauma: Initial Impact
No one is prepared for the worst event in their lives. The pain of loss is very apparent after a murder. There can be an intense roller coaster of feelings and confusion that results in paralysis. Marina described it this way:

You know how oatmeal looks and feels when it’s been sitting for some time? imagined that was what my brain looked like on murder.

Am I crazy? Survivors wonder “What is normal?” They keep expecting this loss to be like other losses. Three major reactions that many find they have difficulty with are rage, sleep problems, and thinking.

Initially, I experienced intense rage, terror, and anguish. Insomnia became a constant companion. I lost my sense of competency in the world. (Marina)

The resources you have or have used before may not help you as much as you had hoped. Until you have acquired new strategies, be protective of yourself. What you can do:

• Say no to “incoming” distractions.
• Be selective to keep your strength up.
• EAT food (an apple, yogurt, raisins, carrot sticks, banana, V8 juice) three times a day and limit alcohol.
• Pull yourself back into quiet spaces. webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500web
• Focus on your own five senses, one at a time: see, hear, touch, smell, and taste.
• Take notice of any times that you are not absorbed with what has happened. Even if it is brief. See what you can do to lengthen that time to help you as you move in and out of the compelling reality of your loss.
• Breathe slow, deep breaths intermittently.

                      … read more in Murder Survivors Handbook

Question of The Month: Funeral Homes– What was your experience and tips?  What suggestions do you have? What did you learn that you wished you had known. What tips do you have for friends, family members, advocates and agencies. Submit your replies now to help others. Reply to this newsletter or email us at

Resource of the Month: Tucson Arizona’s Homicide Survivors Program.

When I was doing research for the Murder Survivors Handbook I found this site. It has a well established program that provides services for homicide survivors in Tucson, Arizona. Information on their website could be useful for anyone and not just if they lived in Arizona especially by using some of the questions to ask their own state representatives. There is very little that resources that survivors can find and this is one place that helps answer some of those important questions including a trial guide and a form to track one’s case. The Executive Director, Carol Gaxiola has a wealth of knowledge and has become both a friend and colleague. Take a look around and let us know found and wweb-coni-carmela-journeyhat you think.

Book Resource: The Journey-Learning to Live with Violent Death by Connie Saindon was featured at San Diego Library Author’s event. This newly released book is a self help and peer facilitator’s guide to a ten-step process that guides one to fill out answers to important questions along the way. New stories have been added along with guides to for group support.See book photo attended by sponsor Carmela Caldera with author Connie Saindon.

What you missed last month:
Topic of the Month: Safety
Book Resource: Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime by Susan Herman, NYC Deputy Commissioner
Poem: The Forever Changed

Subscribe now… and follow up and let us know by adding your comments to all or anything in this article.
Violent Loss Resources Team -Contact us
Connie Saindon       Larry Edwards

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