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News

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: info@safecrossingsfoundation.org.

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 csaindon@svlp.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

Remembering

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.

Rituals

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 Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Question of the Month

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

treeweb2013
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 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

20131214_holidaymemorial2013_1732

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,

 20131213_holidaymemorial2013_1740

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: csaindon@svlp.org
Larry Edwards: larry@larryedwards.com

Topic of the Month
Long-Term Consequences


It ain’t over when it’s over!

Survivor families look forward to getting their lives back to normal when sentencing has taken place or the case is on hold or solved in different way.  When time becomes more of their own design and not controlled by steps in the justice process many realize their normal world has changed.   They  may experience: continued involvement with  criminal justice, health problems that demand notice, intense imagery  that seems to come from nowhere,  angry outbursts surprise them, increased fear of crime and safety issues for themselves,  family  and friends, relationship changes,  career changes, loss of faith, social isolation, family dysfunction and more.  The time to pay attention to the emotional toll is now front and center.

Bravoharrier-1. It’s a topic that needs to be discussed more, because the conventional attitude has always been “get over it.” But mental health professionals and scientists have recognized that PTSD can cause irreparable damage to the brain and change a person’s behavior—not for the better. (Larry Edwards)

When the verdict of “Guilty” was read in court, we experienced an immediatedsc_6656 sense of relief. That step was finally over. But it seems that within minutes, a feeling of emptiness came over each of us with the realization that we still wouldn’t get our daughter back. I hadn’t consciously had this thought before and of course my mind knew it was impossible, but the emptiness prevailed. We hadn’t discussed as a family what our next step would be . . . (Evelyn)

Criminal Justice System Involvement continues . . .

            Victims’ Rights and Services Do Not End at Sentencing. Changes have been made so that the former victims’ rights and services that included only front-end services now include back-end rights and services, such as the right to be notified of the prisoner whereabouts.

            VINE Link (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) is an online national network that allows you, 24 hours a day, to obtain timely and reliable information on prisoners.  You can register to be notified by phone, email, or text message when an offender’s custody status changes .  https://www.vinelink.com/

Traumatic Grief

Traumatic grief will show itself in a variety of ways unique for each person. It is not about individual weakness; it is about experiencing an event that is beyond everyday experiences. It is a normal reaction to an abnormal event, a devastating experience for all who lose someone to murder. My research shows that depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  were found most frequently as long-term difficulties experienced by survivors.  Survivors not may reach out for help from counselors until many months or years after the death of their loved one.


News

Save the Date: April 8 & 9, 2017
Traumatic Grief After Violent Dying
Seattle, Washington

Two-day conference featuring both national and local leaders and survivors. Program will be designed for clinicians and professionals who work with violent death.  Virginia Mason Medical Centers Separation and Loss Services leader Edward Rynearson, MD, and UCSD Medical Schools Sid Zisook, MD, come together to put this workshop on with funding support from the Caldera/Saindon Grant.  Details to follow.  Email csaindon@svlp.org to make sure your name is on the list for notification.



Question of the Month

What are your tips for helping survivors once the case or trial has been set aside?
What have you seen survivors do that helped?

marina-2
Example: Do not twist yourself into a pretzel trying to extract something positive out of something that is truly bad. Sometimes things are just plain awful. (Marina)



Resource of the Month  

To help answer the Question of the Month, I have two resources for you. Some get involved in activities such as changing legislation; for example, Mothers Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Some survivors get involved by providing support and educational information to new survivors,  such as Survivors of Homicide, Inc. , a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization that provides support, counseling, and advocacy to family and friends of homicide victims

My name is Jessica Pizzano and I am with Survivors of Homicide Inc. I have recently purchased “Murder Survivors Handbook” and I just wanted to thank you so much for putting together such a wonderful book. I have started utilizing it with my clients and it has been extremely helpful.


Inspiration

halia-1  Hailia says:   There is a strength and resilience to the depths of my soul that I developed out of sheer survival after the loss of my sister.

A Mother Gone—by Yvonne

yvonne-2

Life was so unfair

Why? There are no answers

Though I try desperately

You are not nameless forgotten

A best friend, my hero,

Time goes by the ache is still there

I look for your smile, a laugh anything to erase a last memory

I fight for you though the past cannot be changed

anger at a man who doesn’t care


MHScoverweb

Topic of the Month contains excerpts from Murder Survivor’s Handbook written for and by those who live and work with life after murder. Available on Amazon.com.

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Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact Us

Connie Saindon: csaindon@svlp.org
Larry Edwards: larry@larryedwards.com

Violent Loss Resources Newsletter,  August 1, 2016
News you can use … collected for you in July. (Scroll down to see all)

Contents will vary somewhat month to month, as we close out this month, our contents include:

            Topic of the Month:  Prosecuting the Case: Survivor Voices

            Question of the Month:  What happened in your case?

            Quote

            News: Two Day Conference 2017: Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying

            Inspiration: “Not Forgotten” Project in Chicago contains  photos and interviews

            Resource of the Month: Victim Law

            What you missed last month           



Topic of the Month: Chapter Seven, Prosecuting the Case
: The importance and complexity involved in this topic is large enough that this topic will continue next month as well.  This month the  focus will be on Survivor Experiences.

 Excerpts from Murder Survivors Handbook webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500web

Here are what some Survivors have to say about this topic:

The FBI had a prime suspect in my parents’ deaths—my younger brother. They wanted to prosecute, but the U.S. attorney’s office refused, saying that without bodies, with little forensic evidence, and having an unreliable witness (my youngest sister, who failed two lie-detector tests and vowed to lie in court), that the odds of getting a guilty verdict were too low to risk incurring jeopardy. (Harrier)

When the case stalled, I met with the U.S. attorney assigned to the case. He explained why there would likely be no prosecution, no trial—the case was circumstantial; there were no bodies; there was little forensic evidence; and my sister was not a reliable witness. He did not want to risk incurring jeopardy by losing the case. (Harrier)

Often it will feel like it is more about the system than it is about justice. It will seem like every consideration is being given to the Defense, on behalf of the Defendant….(Valeria)

 Our charges were worked out behind closed doors with input from the Judge. We were advised up front that the justice system did not allow tailoring charges to increase the available sentencing options. We were given a voice only in the crafting of the plea offers, and then it was advisory in nature. We did, however, feel that the State took into account our perspective and the degree of concurrence we expressed was communicated to the judge at sentencing. ( JJ )’

It was a time when our private and public self felt so disconnected, and the hard work we had put into managing our emotions and grief was challenged on a regular basis throughout the trial. (Valeria)

  I was told that my telling of domestic abuse was not relevant to the case, but I feel that it was the reason my sister was murdered; because I left my abusive boyfriend, and he couldn’t find me, so he found my sister and murdered her.(Kaila)

 When court comes into session, they ask if the judge, the recorder, the prosecutor, the defendant, and the defendant’s attorney is present. They don’t even care or ask if the victim’s family is there. In a lot of cases, I think the defense would be very happy if we were not there. (Kaila)

Twenty-eight years later an arrest was made. After two years of court hearings, a plea agreement was reached for 2nd degree murder. (Halia)

Means, Motive, and Opportunity

The prosecution of a case does not mean motive has to be proven, but the jury does want to know why it happened. Did the defendant have the means, motive, and opportunity to do what he or she is charged with? In our Survivor Writer stories, some of the motives they believe were:

Marina: Oldest motive in the book. Dad planned to end his relationship with his abusive girlfriend, and she was enraged at the loss of a wealthy man to support her lifestyle! …

Harrier: He got caught doing something wrong.

Rose: Prevent having his life disrupted by his son’s existence; it would ruin him . . . child support was secondary.

Kaila:Revenge.” How dare I leave the man that loved me. He Murdered my sister because I left him.

Yvonne: Random act, opportunity, found someone alone and vulnerable.

Mary: I do personally feel that these 6 teens were stupid and immature. I believe they were bored and thought it was okay to get their kicks that night by beating someone up and causing someone an injury….

Question of the Month – What happened in your case? Subscribe now … and follow up to let us know your thoughts by adding your comments about anything in this article.

Quote: Though you can never really be prepared for the unique challenges that will come your way, we hope that by relating our experiences and what we learned in our journey … you will gain insight and confidence by which to navigate the process, should you ever have to. (Valeria)



News: Two Day “Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying”
Conference being planned for April 8 & 9, 2017 in  San Diego, CA. Sponsors include Ted Rynearson, MD Virginia Mason Medical Center, and Sid Zisook, MD; University of California, San Diego. Planning Committee includes Connie Saindon, Founder of Survivors of Violent Loss; Ilanit Young, San Diego VA Center; Linda Pena, Director of S.D.DA’s Victim Assistance Center;  Charles Nelson, Trauma Recovery Center; Kathleen Barnum, Elizabeth Hospice; Mary Edwards, Victim Assistance Coordinating Council with generous financial support from Carmela Caldera. *Mark your calendar.



Inspiration:
Not Forgotten: Chicago Street Memorials.  Journalist Ann-Marie Cusac and former Emergency Room MD Thomas Ferrella have teamed up to produce interviews and photography for a show at the Cage Gallery 18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago running from September 29- December 3rd, 2016. Here is a link for more information for you poster



Resource of the Month: Victim Law: https://www.victimlaw.org/

Victim Law is a searchable database of victims’ rights legal provisions including federal, state, and territorial statutes, tribal laws, state constitutional amendments, court rules, administrative code provisions, and summaries of related court decisions and attorney general opinions.

Victim Law currently contains legal provisions relating to the following 10 basic rights of crime victims:

  • The right to attend and be present at criminal justice proceedings;
  • The right to be heard in the criminal justice process, including the right to confer with the prosecutor and submit a victim impact statement at sentencing, parole, and other similar proceedings;
  • The right to be informed of proceedings and events in the criminal justice process, including the release or escape of the offender, legal rights and remedies, and available benefits and services, and access to records, referrals, and other information;
  • The right to protection, including protection from intimidation and harassment;
  • The right to privacy;
  • The right to apply for crime victim compensation;
  • The right to restitution from the offender;
  • The right to the expeditious return of personal property seized as evidence whenever possible;
  • The right to a speedy trial and other proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and
  • The right to enforcement of these rights and access to other available remedies.


What you missed last month:

Topic of the Month:  The Criminal Justice Process

            Question of the Month- What tips do you have?

            News: Orlando 

            Inspiration: I’ll cry again

            Book Resource: Accidental Truth



Like us on  Facebook:

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

Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact us

Connie Saindon: csaindon@svlp.org
Larry Edwards: larry@larryedwards.com

 

 

Violent Loss Resources Newsletter,  July 1, 2016

News you can use … collected for you in June. (Scroll down to see all.)

Contents include:

Topic of the Month:  The Criminal Justice Process
Question of the Month: What tips do you have?
News: Orlando
Inspiration: I’ll Cry Again
Book Resource: Accidental Truth
What you missed last month


Topic of the Month:


Murder Survivor’s Handbook
Chapter Six: The Criminal Justice Process  MSH in court

This chapter is full of helpful information, and much more than I can place in a monthly newsletter for you. So, I have chosen the contribution of a couple who were committed to helping others after their ordeal.  Let us know if you find this helpful or if you have something to add.

This photo of Murder Survivor’s Handbook is of a survivor in court.  She took the book with her every day to look things up and to help her ask questions of her advocate and prosecutor.

Courthouse Survival Advice

Once a trial date has been set, your next challenge is attending court proceedings with its rules and protocols. Bonnie and John had to endure this twice after their 80-year-old mother was raped and killed. They wrote Courthouse Survival Advice in the hopes that it would help others. Their heartfelt, practical advice continues to help families everywhere.

Bonnie and John start out by advising what to wear, not only to help give a good impression but also for comfort and ease. They know the stress you will experience. You can tell by their tone that they are speaking from the heart in wanting to help you from their own difficult experience of having to go through this process twice. This guide is several pages long and worth every word. Send copies to everyone you know that is following your case. Below is just a sample of the document. It is a must read.

  • Clothing – first of all, if you are clean and look halfway neat, you look better than most of the people at the courthouse. If you want to be dealing with the press, dress accordingly. They will put slobs on TV, but they don’t like to. Like it or not, there is often a lot of PR necessary in getting justice for your loved one. The lawyers will be wearing suits. The criminal may too. You don’t have to go so far as high heels or coat and tie, but stay away from the cutoffs and T-shirts.
  • Line up at least five (Monday through Friday) “easy-to-care-for and easy-to-live-in” outfits. I’d suggest an emphasis on comfortable clothing that you can sit in for hours, if necessary, without a lot of fussing, tucking, pinching and riding up.
  • Find a non-fussy hairdo and non-fussy makeup, etc. Pare down as much primping as you can in the morning, since you’ll be needing more sleep than you are used to needing. Fair warning – even good-quality eye makeup tends to run when you cry –and there’s nothing like courthouse proceedings to reduce you to tears.
  • Start taking VERY GOOD care of yourself, if you aren’t already. Work your schedule to allow you to get more sleep, take your vitamins, and get some calm exercise. Avoid caffeine; take it easy on junk food. You may find you will be more prone to colds, stomach upsets, etc. Stress will do you in.

There is so much more to their very helpful article; read more of it online and add your own pieces to it. Their article is available on the Survivors of Violent Loss Program website and listed in Resources at the end of this chapter.



Question of the Month
:

What tips do you have for Survivors and for Criminal Justice Professionals to help others who will be required to take this difficult journey?



News:

The mourners in Orlando need to know they are not alone and have our support. They want to know how we have survived.  What can each of us do?  If you have lived the life of having someone who was killed violently, you relive your loss when this kind of incident is in the news.  Read the news and not watch it on TV so much.  The TV news coverage tends to replay the same very distressed folks over and over again.  Protect yourself and your ability to function.  Please send us your ideas.



Inspiration:

I’ll Cry Again …

I cry again, this time for Orlando (6-16-16)

I cry again, this time for the Boston Marathon;

Time before it was the removal of memorabilia from the grave site of a murdered mother and infant;

Before that, I cried again and again and again for Sandy Hook;

I cry again for the first conversations between Dad and Yvonne about her mother who was murdered when she was just ten.

I’ll cry again, and again and again …

I cry when I read about the lives of homicide detectives, and how their lives are impacted.  The horrors they attempt to objectify to pursue the who-dun-its. The disappointments and blame they take on when justice isn’t served.

I’ll cry again when being safe is an illusion and being free is thwarted …

Can’t run a marathon, can’t go to first grade, can’t leave objects of love at a grave site, can’t go to class, can’t drive home from work, can’t go to work, can’t say no to going to the Prom, can’t say no when asked for a cigarette, can’t ride a bike in one’s neighborhood … can’t play at the park, can’t help a friend or sister out with her abusive boyfriend … can’t open your door at home, can’t have visitation at mom’s …

I’ll cry again, again and again …

I will continue to cry … and not go to Murder Mystery Cafes, watch made-up murder stories, nor support guns. It is now my nature to live life seriously.

As I know I will cry again, and again and again.

The tears won’t stop. There are too many stories in addition to the new ones that pile on.

Nor will it end for me not to buffer my tears with roses, irises, lavender, gardens, quiet, photography, cooking adventures,  walks along the ocean, cups of tea, turning off the TV and more …

I know I will cry again … it is the nature  of murder … and I will fight back with reciprocal intensity at what is beautiful in this world.

I  know that I grow and increase my convictions with the strengths I see in each survivor  I know.

I know we will cry …

Connie Saindon  (4-15-13)  



Book Resources: Accidental Truth

This book is a memoir of a daughter, Lauri Taylor, who would not give up the search for who murdered her mom.  A housewife who navigated four years between two countries and multiple helpful and not helpful criminal justice professionals to reach a final and surprising ending—the truth.  There are lots of lessons in this journey about working with and outside the criminal justice system.



Quote: Sandra Levy ‘s mother said
on the NBC Today Show, 5/3/16, that when  she was told that the convicted killer was getting a new trial, No matter what we still lost our daughter.  Sandra’s mom uses art to help others because she knows the media moves on, but the families don’t.



What you missed last month:

Topic of the Month:  The Homicide Investigation
Question of the Month: What tips and lessons would you like to pass on to others?
Resource of the Month: Black’s Online Law Dictionary
Inspiration: Some things have to be carried …
Book Resource: R.I.P Memorial Wall



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



Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact us

Connie Saindon: csaindon@svlp.org
Larry Edwards: larry@larryedwards.com

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. www.svlp.org (619) 685-0005

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