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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:

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 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.

—Author Unknown

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.   

webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500webTopic of the Month contains excerpts from Murder Survivor’s Handbook, available at







Question of the Month

What do you want us to remember about your loved one?

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 trees20131214_holidaymemorial2013_1725

Around the world below,

With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars,

Reflecting on the snow


20131214_holidaymemorial2013_1722The 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,20131213_holidaymemorial2013_1744

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.20131214_holidaymemorial2013_1728


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,sandy-hook-web

More precious than pure gold.

It was always most important, 

In the best stories told.


Please love and keep each other,20131213_holidaymemorial2013_1742

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.20131214_holidaymemorial2013_1737

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

Connie Saindon:
Larry Edwards:






Please contact DAYNA HERROZ for any questions 619-955-6084 or SVLP@SVLP.ORG





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me-memorial-webby Connie Saindon

News: September 26, 2014, Maine National Day of Remembrance of Murder Victims

Sister Nina Hodgkins attended the Maine Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims as proclaimed by Maine Governor Paul LePage. The new memorial wall for the state of Maine was established by the Maine Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children just last year. I was fortunate to be able to attend their ceremony with Nina last summer. Nina has been the lead for our family in getting our sister’s name Shirley “Tiny” Dianne Rollins on the new memorial wall. Other murder victims our family has known are Frank Williams and Chet Lee Worthington. Their names are included in this remembrance.

Murder Survivor's Handbook: Real-life Stories, Tips & ResourcesThe San Diego effort for this day of remembrance is the launching of Murder Survivors Handbook. This two and half year project is both heart wrenching and heartfelt. The book includes the commitment of many survivors who wanted to help new comers to have more information and resources than they had. Positive reviews continue to come in. A real lesson as well to those who wonder what it is like for folks to have this type of loss. It has been indeed an honor to work with so many and we all hope that it will make a difference in learning to bear this unspeakable crime.


rr_saindonIMG_0571River of Remembrance held its annual event to coincide with this special day as well here in San Diego. It is held the Saturday before the National Day (September 25) to increase the ability for more to attend. Survivors rarely have opportunity to talk about their loved one’s life, and this event facilitates them doing so. By having rocks bearing their names and placed in a “river” and T-shirts to paint a memory of their loved one they want us all to know about, too. They would not want to be remembered just as murder victims. This event was created by the Founder of Survivors of Violent Loss, Connie Saindon, and held at the Crime Victims Oak Garden with permission of the Cara Knott family. Many agencies co-sponsor this event every year.

Survivors of Violent Loss (SVL) and
The Cara Knott Foundation invite you to the
River of Remembrance Ceremony
In honor of National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims
Crime Victims Oak Garden
Saturday, September 20, 2014 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

The River of Remembrance Ceremony is an informal peer-support event where you will have the opportunity to tell other crime survivors about your loved ones life and how you would like us to remember them. You can paint a rock with your loved ones name on it and put it into a “river” or participate in our t-shirt activity by painting a t-shirt and hanging it on our “memory clothes line.” You can bring your own rock or t-shirt or some will be available at the event as will paint and Supplies. You can also engrave smooth river rocks at Conti & Sons 619-264-2480. Rocks should be 6”-8” maximum.
Bring a chair & some food &/or drink to share.

Contact Dayna Herroz for more information or 619-955-6084 or 619-251-1950

Crime Victims Oak Garden Directions: Cara Way off Scripps Poway Parkway. From San Diego I-15 north to Scripps Poway Parkway, exit right & make a U-turn at the first light. Return on Scripps Poway Parkway & turn right on Cara Way (just before the I-15 on ramp). Look for purple balloons & banner on sign post and follow Cara Way to the end of the park and park along the street.

***For those of you who do not have transportation The Jackie Robinson Family YMCA will have a bus to take you to the event. You must be there by 8:30 a.m. and contact Celeste Hunter @ 619-977-7433 or Bevelyn Bravo @ 619-325-7354 to reserve your spot on the bus!!!***

Co-Sponsors: Cara Knott Foundation, Survivors of Violent Loss (SVL), The Jenna Druck Center, Center for Mindful Relationships (CFMR), Victims Assistance Coordinating Council (VACC), Crime Stoppers, Therapy Changes, Crime & Trauma Recovery, Parents of Murdered Children (POMC), Jackie Robinson Family YMCA, San Diego Compassion Project, Mothers with a Message.

**Donations for this event can be made out to “SVLP” (Survivors of Violent Loss Program) and given to me in person, or mailed to: Dayna Herroz, P.O. Box 430116, San Diego, CA  92143.  For tax purposes, donation receipts will be provided upon request.**

Founders Message 2013

Join us in honoring loved ones this holiday.

Last year, our annual  Holiday Memorial event occurred the day after Sandy Hook. To honor them we placed school ornament with their name and year on it. This year our event coincided with their first anniversary. 

We placed 26 separate bulbs on the tree for them. See photos of the event at:

2013 Holiday Memorial

Below are  media links for coverage for this event. Each one is a little different. 
Dayna  Herroz was referred to and interviewed in the media below. She shows more courage and is indeed a hero for us all who have lost a loved one.  Her story and her resilience is deeply admired.  You will also hear Larry Edwards being interview as he remembers his parents in a new book about their death. 

I know you all support these families and I thank you for doing so. There is very little available for these families in helping them rebuild their lives.  This is an unknown secret in their lives. 

Your continued support is necessary to correct this discrepancy.  Please send  inspirational messages  to and tax deductable  donations to

SVLP- Events Fund, 2333 First Ave., Ste. 203, San Diego, CA 92101

Connie Saindon, Founder

Survivors of Violent Loss (


Here are Media Links to the 2013 Holiday Memorial by  Survivors of Violent Loss
Station: KFMB-SD (CBS)
Time: 12/14/2013 5:06:01 PM

Station: KFMB-SD (CBS)
Time: 12/14/2013 6:33:38 PM

Station: KUSI-SD
Time: 12/14/2013 5:59:26 PM

Station: KUSI-SD
Time: 12/14/2013 11:00:08 PM

Station: KNSD-SD (NBC)
Time: 12/14/2013 7:13:50 AM

Victims of violence honored at annual memorial
I blogged about the event as well . . .

Survivors of Violent Loss Honor Loved Ones, Sandy Hook Victims
. . . and am posting links on my FB page . . .

Invites You to Our 11th Annual
Mark your calendars for 
11:00 am – 1:30 pm
Location: Survivors of Violent Loss Program
3660 Clairemont Dr., Suite 2
San Diego, CA 92117
You are asked to bring
Friends and Family,
An Ornament Symbolizing Your Loved One       
to Hang on Our Holiday Tree,
and a Poem or Words of Inspiration. 

 Please RSVP at or (619) 685-0005

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