Edward Rynearson, MD, leading specialist in Violent Death Bereavement, will be the keynote speaker at Safe Crossings on Childhood Grief in Seattle, Washington, on Friday, February 24. To find out more about this one-day program contact: email@example.com.
Save the Date: April 8 & 9, 2017, for a Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying two-day conference featuring both National and Local leaders and survivors. The program will be designed for clinicians and advocates who work with violent death. Virginia Mason Medical Centers Separation and Loss Services leader Edward Rynearson, MD, and UCSD Medical School Residency Program Director, Sid Zisook, come together to put this workshop on, with funding support from the Caldera/Saindon Grant. Details to follow. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure your name is on the list for notification.
Topic of the Month
Remembering and Rituals
Lives are like rivers, they go where they must to not where we want them to.
-Empire Falls by Richard Russo
It is understandable that people can’t forget how a loved one was murdered. It shakes us all to the core of our lives and community. The horrific and traumatic nature of a violent death is deeply experienced and images can easily be triggered. We are hard wired to remember the most intense moments of our lives.
They say memories are golden.
Well, maybe that is true:
I never wanted memories;
I only wanted you.
Horrific events interfere with memories of who murder victims were before they died. A major task of Restorative Retelling is to slowly and respectfully bring back who loved ones were before they were killed. One of my brothers apologetically admits he knows how our sister died, but he doesn’t remember her. Consider these words from Rose, one of the anonymous writers in Murder Survivor’s Handbook:
… it is one of my greatest fears that my Daughter and Grandson will be forgotten; my second fear is that they will always be remembered for how they were murdered, and I want to change that now to how they lived.
Beyond Words: Words are difficult to use when it comes to describing the experience of life after murder. Rituals and ceremonies do what words cannot do. They are vehicles for respectful expression of losses. Events can help free up overwhelming emotion allowing its expression in a private or shared activity. The use of art, poetry, music, and dance can say what cannot be said in words. Such events act to strengthen bonds between individuals and their community in the aftermath of a murder or other violent death when fear and trust are shattered.
Our focus this month is on Re-member-ing your loved one during this challenging time of missing them during these upcoming holidays.
Topic of the Month contains excerpts from Murder Survivor’s Handbook, available at Amazon.com.
Question of the Month
What do you want us to remember about your loved one?
Inspiration: This poem was read at every Holiday Memorial the Survivors of Violent Loss Program organized. Survivors were asked to change words to fit their belief systems and bring symbols of their loved ones for the holiday tree.
Christmas in Heaven
I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars,
Reflecting on the snow
The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear,
For I am spending Christmas
with the angels this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs,
That people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can’t compare
With the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring
For it is beyond description,
To hear the angels sing.
I see the pain inside your heart.
But I am not so far away,
I know how much you miss me,
We really aren’t apart.
So be happy for me dear ones,
You know I hold you dear,
And be glad I’m spending Christmas,
With the angels this year.
I send you each a special gift,
From my heavenly home above,
I send you each a memory of,
My undying love.
After all “love” is the gift,
More precious than pure gold.
It was always most important,
In the best stories told.
Please love and keep each other,
As the angel said to do,
For I can’t count the blessing,
Or love they have for each of you.
So, have a Merry Christmas,
And wipe away that tear.
Remember, I’m spending Christmas,
With the angels this year.
by Wanda Bencke in memory of her daughter Lysandr
To develop your own rituals, consider some of the following ideas and let us know what you do. Your rituals will give others ideas when their thinking is blocked.
Activities can include the telling of stories around a fireplace or bonfire, going to the burial site and praying, chanting, singing, serving the needy, making charitable contributions, doing a difficult feat such as a hike, balloon ride, or a surfboard paddle-out.
Items to use for rituals could be candles, rosemary (for remembrance), seeds, sand, feathers, balloons, crayons, rocks, ribbon, music, stars, or irises (for hope).
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Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact us