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Violent Loss Resources Newsletter, May, 2017

Contents:

 Topic of the Month:

Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying Conference

 News:  Free Monthly Meetings in San Diego as well as upcoming            

Restorative Retelling Groups. 

Resources of the Month: South Africa, Philadelphia, Christine                                                                               Grimmie

  Inspiration: Sandy Hook Four Years Later

 Question of the Month-What are you doing to move forward?

Topic of the Month: Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying Conference held April 8 & 9 in La Jolla, CA  received  outstanding reviews from attendees, presenters who donated their time and the planning committee who worked on this project for a year.  

 Here is what they said:

The most valuable part was the experienced speakers and the depth of knowledge from the presenters.  the survivors insight was invaluable.IMG_4395-sunday End with Dr Rynearson

Best conference I have ever attended.  Usually I am waiting for the conference to end, but not this time.  Thank you again for an outstanding conference.  I have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from  my staff.

The resounding passion of professionals who work with these issues.

Beautiful, comfortable venue, well-organized presentations, and a jaw-dropping series of speakers . There was a sense of shared purpose that could not be denied.  People are very excited about Restorative Retelling.

Best conference we have ever held. IMG_4346 bubbles (1)

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned to where the next conference will be, and let us know if you wish to partner with us to bring one to your city. Follow this newsletter blog or contact Laura Jeffs, at Virginia Mason Separation and Loss services.  laura.jeffs@virginiamason.org

For more photos of the conference go to Saturday Photos and Sunday Photos

News:

Free Monthly Meetings in San Diego are starting as well as upcoming Restorative Retelling Groups and Services.    Restorative Retelling is an evidence based approach that has helped reduce the symptoms for survivors that have lost someone to a violent death.  The first meeting is May 16, 6:30pm in convenient Mission Valley. Contact Tammy Carter, MFTI for more information and the address at 619-685-0005.

 Resource of the Month:   This section of the newsletter usually introduces you to one resource but this newsletter is different.  Three new resources will be added as we are excited about the important work they are doing.  Please visit their websites and thank them for being a part of the solution and helping to expand resources for those following a violent death.

National Homicide Justice Alliance/ Justice for Alex Now

National Homicide Justice Alliance(1)

We are families of murder victims who are uniting to find justice for our loved ones, to support one another to find healing and promote peace in our communities.

Their Vision: To facilitate the union of a grassroots alliance of families of homicide.  We are the persons most directly affected by homicide and gun violence. We will focus on determining our own needs as families of homicide victims, advising, fostering programs, and promoting legislation, which will work for peace and justice and the cause of families of homicide victims.

http://www.justiceforalexnow.com/national-homicide-justice-alliance

The Christina Grimmie Foundation

On June 10, 2016, Christina Grimmie  was a fan favorite of NBC’s  The Voice who died of gunshot wounds inflicted in a targeted attack that followed her concert performance in Orlando, Florida.

Her foundation was set up as a legacy to her and her website says: Some stars shine so brightly that they shine forever.  When families encounter tragedy, we support them, with love.  The Christina Grimmie foundation exists to support families who have lost a loved one to gun violence and support for families facing breast cancer diagnosis.

https://christinagrimmiefoundation.org/

Modiegi Sekedi Motlhabane Foundation 

The foundation  is an Nonprofit  located in South Africa founded after the murder of her daughter by her mother Patricia who writes:

 Good evening, this e-mail serves the appreciation of finding your program of the impact of violent death to families-restorative retelling model on the internet. I am one of the mothers impacted.I was doing a lot of mistakes when running the homicide support group without guide lines/materials, but since I started studying your collaboration data my practice has improved a lot, I wish to see you visiting SOUTH AFRICA, people here are brutally murdered to xenophobic, taxi war, bank armed robbery, intimate relationships and so on, families need to be attended but how, so many marches were done but xenophebic attack is prolonging and dying violently is spreading. This Foundation was the recipient of several of The Journey Workbooks. 

Inspiration: 60 Minutes Returns to Newtown

In case you missed it, click on the link below to catch the 60 Minutes follow-up with families in Newtown who lost first graders and educators.  There are touching messages of the forever pain that exists and inspirational missions that families are working on to make a difference and honor their loved ones.

Jimmy Greene: There have been those that have said things like, “You know, so you guys are good now?” Or “I hope you’ve had some closure to your daughter’s murder.” In the back of my heart and I know in Nelba’s, as well, it’s like our family will never be intact again. Our daughter, Ana, was 6 years old.

60 Minutes returns to Newtown Four Years Later

Question of the Month-What are you doing to move forward?
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Read much more in…

webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500web       The_Journey_front_cover web

Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact us

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

Check out this editorial by the LA TIMES 3/31/17

The death penalty doesn’t bring closure so much as it extends trauma
http://fw.to/Sz7fJdh

Quote: “studies have found that capital-murder trials and executions rarely bring a sense of closure, or peace, to the families.”

Quote: “Grief, as those who have experienced it can attest, never really goes away. But it does fade with time. It takes much longer to fade, however, if the criminal justice system, in its misguided thirst for taking one life to atone for loss of another, forces the grief-stricken and traumatized to keep reliving the moment — cruel and unusual punishment, if you will, for those who are guilty of nothing.”

Thanks to Larry Edwards for forwarding this information. In my work with families since 1995, I concur with this editorial as this is the sentiment  I hear from most families.

Appreciations to all who ask the important questions of what truly helps these families.  It may be that we need to reduce blaming anyone and look at what we steer people towards.  There are few studies that give us this information.

When the criminal justice system does its job it has put someone away that is a danger to society and prevented someone from being wrongly convicted.  It is not the solution for families who say they have a life sentence. The criminal justice system is designed to deal with the crime and the criminal.  It’s job is not to resolve the trauma that impacts folks whose loved one was murdered.  While there is room for them to reduce adding more trauma to families, it is not their job to work with the traumatic grief that accompanies homicide.

As popular a topic as Murder is, there is still too few resources for families after a murder. This overwhelming,  intense and horrific experience puts families at risk for depression, post traumatic disorder and substance abuse. Family includes up to 11 members  not just the one you see that may speak for the family.  The absorption in the criminal case prevents most from getting the trauma support that would alter their longer term adjustment.

Instead there is a misguided push by many around these families and the families themselves to seek and get justice via the criminal justice system.  Families become absorbed by the workings of a system they know little about and have little voice in.

Families do not realize this until sometime after the sentence is passed. They live four or more years waiting for a trial to end with interruptions, postponements and lives on hold. Families who’s case got  “life in prison without the possibility of parole” escape the revisiting of their case by periodic and painful reliving of parole hearings but true justice for all would be to have their loved ones returned.  There are many who never see their case go to trial.

So, let’s not argue about who is or isn’t doing something but move to work together and not make claim that any one of our solutions is THE SOLUTION.  We all have something to contribute and survivors voices will light our path.

Thank you for all that you do,

Connie Saindon

 

virginia_mason_logoRegister NOW!!   see belowucsandiego_logo

April 8 and 9, 2017

Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying Conference

Virginia Mason Separation and Loss Services and UC San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, are pleased to offer a two-day conference on Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying on Saturday and Sunday, April 8 and 9, 2017 from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm at UCSD’s International House in La Jolla, CA.

With generous support from the Caldera-Saindon Grant, we are able to offer this two-day training for a fee of only $150/person plus an additional $35 for 15 CEU credits.

Featured speakers (partial list):

  • Ted Rynearson, MD, Clinical Professor, University of Washington and Medical Director, Virginia Mason Separation and Loss Services
  • Richard Gold, MA, Founder, Pongo Publishing
  • Larry Taylor, DMin, BCC, Chief Chaplain, VA San Diego Healthcare System
  • Lori Montross, PhD, Family Support Psychologist, Moores Cancer Center
  • Summer Stephan, Chief Deputy District Attorney, San Diego County
  • Vilma Torres, LMSW, Director, Safe Horizon Bronx Family Justice Center
  • BethAnn Holzhay, MSW, Director, Bronx DA Crime Victims Assistance Unit
  • Connie Saindon, MA, LMFT, Founder, Survivors of Violent Loss Program
  • Saul Levine, MD, Professor Emeritus, UC San Diego
  • Charles Nelson, PhD, Founder/Director, Crime and Trauma Recovery Program
  • Sidney Zisook, MD, Distinguished Professor, UC San Diego
  • Robert Neborsky MD, Clinical Professor, UC San Diego

Register Now!!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/traumatic-grief-after-violent-dying-tickets-32174649242

  For questions, email Laura Jeffs, Program Coordinator, at laura.jeffs@virginiamason.org or call (206) 223-6398.

fvsai_logo  ivat_logo  This training is co-sponsored by The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT).  IVAT is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  IVAT maintains responsibility for this continuing education program and its content.  This course meets the qualifications for __ hours of continuing education credit for MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.  IVAT is approved by the California Board of Registered Nurses to offer continuing education for nurses (CEP #13737).  IVAT is approved by the State Bar of California to offer Minimum Continuing Legal Education for attorneys (#11600).  CE credits approved by CA agencies are accepted in most states.     For information on continuing education, contact   psmith@alliant.edu


handling-loss-holidays

Violent Loss Resources Newsletter, October 1, 2016

  • Topic of the Month:  Victim Impact, Justice & Unsolved Cases
  • Question of the Month: What mistake do you want to help others avoid?
  • News:  Hotline/Chatline crime victim centered and trauma informed
  •  Resource of the Month: Crime Stoppers
  • Inspiration: Kaila Quote


Topic of the Month: Victim Impact, Justice & Unsolved Cases

One thing we are certain of … anyone who has lost a loved-one, and then goes through  a criminal trial, whether it is a death-penalty case or not, knows that, in the end, there are no winners, no closure, no “happy endings.” What was done can never be undone … (Valeria)

VICTIM  IMPACT  STATEMENT

Today, judges  are compelled by law to give co-victims an opportunity to address the court. All states guarantee the right for those who have been most affected by a crime to present a written or oral statement in court.  This is called the Victim Impact Statement.

Most of the time this opportunity is at “sentencing.” The decision is up to the judge, but you will probably have an opportunity to read  your statement in court. These reports become part of the record for this case. The judge may allow Victim Impact Statements to be submitted from different people who have been impacted.

Up to this point, the voices of co-victims have not been heard unless they were witnesses. An impact statement gives them an opportunity to speak on behalf of a loved one. This one chance to be the voice puts great pressure on co-victims to make sure it is complete and right within the limited time they have to speak.

I have heard several co-victims lament over what to say and worry they will be unable to read their statements in court without breaking down. You may appoint someone to read it for you. Again, check with your Key Contacts about what is allowed in your situation and have a backup plan.

Whether or not your case gets to a Sentencing Phase, this type of report is valuable for each person to complete and have as a family record. Writing down the story of your experience can be of great value to you and others over time. Once written down, you can edit it and refer to it so that you will not need to tell the story over and over again to new people in your world.

JUSTICE

Justice requires more than holding offenders accountable.  Yet we minimize a victim’s pain and suffering, and pretend that criminal convictions are a sufficient balm. We must meet our obligation to victims, not just because we are a compassionate society, but because helping victims rebuild their lives is an essential component of justice. (Susan Herman, 2010)

“True justice cannot really be achieved.” I hear this again and again.  Listening to so many of  you that when all the legal process is over, and the sentence you hoped for has occurred, true justice is not possible as there is no getting our loved one(s) back. The perpetrator may be held accountable by the legal system, but he or she has already “gotten away with murder.” Co-victims are challenged with having to reconcile this fact and rebuild their lives in spite of this reality. This is hard work.

“Getting closure” usually means only that an aspect of the journey after a murder will not be repeated, such as when there is a trial and someone is found guilty.  Usually, but not always, that work is done and there is closure to that activity.

UNSOLVED CASES

Murder cases can go unsolved not only for decades, but for centuries. For co-victims, this fact is just as disconcerting as the murder case itself.

  • Survivor writer Marina has no hope of getting justice in the legal arena but finds ways to direct her rage and find hope.
  • It took 33 years to get justice for the death of Debra Davis, one of the victims of a notorious crime boss in Boston.
  • Dee’s family waited 13 years for cold-case detectives to find a pattern in the death of five women. Looking at their cases together led to a suspect and convictions. (Scream at the Sky)
  • Joselyn Martinez, a 36-year-old actress, cracked a cold case by tracking down her father’s killer 26 years later, and handed her work over to detectives.
  • The movie “No One Killed Jessica” tells the true story of model Jessica Lall, who was shot dead while tending bar in a New Delhi restaurant. Although a trial was conducted and dozens of witnesses testified, the suspected gunman was acquitted. But media outcry and petitions to the president from her sister and a journalist led to a reopening of the case and subsequent conviction.
  • Actor Dylan McDermott solved the mystery of his mother’s tragic murder 45 years later, after he discovered police had covered it up. He was just five years old when it happened.

webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500webWhen a new angle is identified, or a new timeline has passed, Crime Stoppers can help bring public attention to the unsolved case. For another example, The Pasadena Star News agreed to publish pictures and background information on any unsolved homicide case in Los Angeles on the newspaper’s website. Additionally, the newspaper highlights an unsolved case weekly. It only takes one person, one call, to turn an unsolved case to solved.

Read much more in Murder Survivor’s Handbook

 



Question of the Month: Was justice served in your case? What tips do you want to help others avoid?
    

My parents’ case has been stalled since 1980. For three years I stayed in contact with the FBI agent in charge of the case, hoping for justice for my dead parents. Since then, I have reviewed the case and the evidence, and written a book about the case to disclose information that had never before been made public.  (Harrier)

I am very bitter about my experience with the justice system. Statistically, it is a system with a fifty percent failure rate.  That is unacceptable, yet we are taught that the American system of justice is the best in the world. Really? Would you buy a two-story house with a missing second floor?  Would you ever climb on a jet if you knew it might crash fifty percent of the time?  Would you keep your money at a banking institution with a fifty percent default rate?  You can call it a justice system if you please, but I call it the Busted System.  So what if some people think it’s the best system in the world?  That may or may not be true—it’s a big planet.  But to me, the American legal system is merely the cleanest dirty shirt in the closet. (Marina)

People think that if you receive the sentence you asked for then justice was served.  However, in reality they got away with murder because our (loved ones) are still dead.  I find no justice in that.  I thought that when I heard the words: guilty, guilty, guilty, and I left the courtroom, in some way I would feel differently.  I didn’t.  I took a small measure of pleasure that he was going to have to spend the rest of his life in a cage; that he didn’t get to walk out of the courtroom a free man.  (Rose)



News:  Hotline/Chatline for Victims of Crime Support.
The State of Iowa has just launched a state hotline for crime victims and co-victims that not only provide resources but a daytime chatline: one-on-one chats in real time that are victim-centered and trauma-informed.  This phone system for resources is available 24/7. Imagine this available in your state. Imagine a state or national hotline/chatline for those who have lost someone after a homicide. Talk with them about what is involved in setting this up.  Contact <katryn-duarte@uiowa.edu> regarding the hotline and <alexandranassif@muawi.org> about the Chatline .



Resource of the Month:  Crime Stoppers

Crime Stoppers first began in Albuquerque, New Mexico, during July 1976, following the fatal shooting of Michael Carmen while he was working one night at a local filling station. After two weeks the police had no information when out of desperation Detective Greg MacAleese approached the local television station, requesting a reconstruction of the crime. The re-enactment offered US$1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the killers.

Within 72 hours, a person called in and identified a car leaving the scene at high speed, and he had noted its registration.

Crime Stoppers USA is the national Crime Stoppers organization that spans the United States to create a network of local programs that work together to prevent and solve crimes in communities and schools across the nation. Check out their successes and find them near you:  www.crimestoppersusa.com



Inspiration

Let someone make you smile, let someone make you laugh, allow yourself to be happy.  You could be a blessing that someone else needs. ( Kaila)


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Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact us

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

 

Violent Loss Resources Newsletter, September 1, 2016

            Topic of the Month:  Prosecuting the Case, Continued

            Question of the Month: What happened in your case?

            News: National Day for Remembering Homicide Victims

            Resource of the Month

            Inspiration



Topic of the Month:
Prosecuting the case, Chapter Seven, Murder Survivor’s Handbook.

webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500webWhile there are many families who do get their case heard in a court of law; there are those who are still waiting for their day in court. This newsletter will address cold cases in the future. In this issue we will focus on those who do get to go to court.  The following is an excerpt from the book:

Prosecutor Prior writes the following questions on the back of her business card and encourages families to ask the questions each time they meet:

When is the next court date?

What can I expect?

Will anything new happen?

Is the case still going as planned?

What can I do to help?

Prior to court, I was told how I should act and dress; I was told to refrain from losing my mind and trying to kill this murderer, or at least that’s what I heard. I dressed nicely and answered the questions, but if looks could kill, I was trying . . . it didn’t work. (Kaila)

Trial Timeline

  • Pre-Trial Conferences
  • Jury Selection
  • Trial Starts
  • Opening Statements
  • State Presents Its Case
  • Defense Presents Its Case
  • Rebuttals by Prosecution and Defense
  • Closing Arguments
  • Jury Instructions
  • Verdict
  • Sentencing

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

More Surprises:

  • Request to change the venue (location) of the trial.
  • Attempts to keep witnesses from testifying.
  • Your loved one is described in discrediting terms. This may have already happened during police interviews.
  • Disappointments can occur when the prosecutor does not take into consideration what the family wants. One mother was convinced that her son’s murder was a hate crime. She remained angry at the prosecutor for not adding this to the charges.Read much more in Murder Survivors Handbook.


Question of the Month: What happened in your cas
e? Can you relate in some way to the above excerpt? What tips do you have for others?



News: Mark your calendar.  National Day of Remembrance of Murder Victims is September 25. 
Thanks to Parents of Murder Children (POMC)  who worked to have this day every year set aside to put on different events to honor murdered loved ones. Activities encourage support for families and communities.  Check your local resources for activities in your community.

If you are in San Diego go to the link below for more information about the event.You will be given the opportunity to speak about your loved one’s life, who they were and how you would like them to be remembered. Ceremony for National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. Saturday, September 24 at 10 AM – 1 PM. Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/185416058528433/permalink/210963475973691/



Resource of the Month: Victims of Crime Resource Center, University of the Pacific-McGeorge School of Law, http://www.1800vivtims.org/



Inspiration: Take a look at images of previous River of Remembrance events on the Annual Day of Remembrance of Loved Ones of Murder Victims put on by Survivors of Violent Loss.



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Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact us

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

 

 

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

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

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

Add your Voice and Tips

 


Topic of the Month: The Homicide Investigation

Excerpt: Murder Survivor’s Handbook,  Chapter Five:

webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500webIn the United State of America, one person is murdered every 35.6 minutes. (FBI, 2010)

Your life has been thrown into a well-developed system, a paramilitary system: the criminal justice system. More than likely you have had little experience with this system, and no matter how many movies or TV shows you have watched, you probably know little of how the system actually works.

Richard Wissemann, Supervising Investigator for the San Diego District Attorney’s office, says, “The real problem is that most people believe CSI is truly real, including the families and, unfortunately, the Jury. DNA cannot be identified in half an hour. [TV watching] can hurt as much as help your case.”

It’s important for you to remember that law enforcement’s primary duty is to the deceased, not to the survivors. In their effort to protect the integrity of the case, law enforcement will share little or no information with you. Respectfulness by all sides will go a long way in helping here.

I was surprised to learn that I knew nothing about the legal system. (Kaila)

 The problem for survivors is that they want answers to their questions, but the investigators won’t provide those answers if it is premature.

Tips for Dealing with Law Enforcement

  • Develop a good relationship with your investigator. You are on the same side. Their style and what they must do may result in only a good but not great working relationship.
  • Many people wonder why police don’t question the suspect first. Here is an example, from Michael Corwin’s Homicide Special (2004), on the way detectives may proceed to question the list of people who have knowledge of their murder victim:

 They decide to approach the case . . . in concentric circles, interviewing peripheral players first, then gradually moving inward . . . and finally to potential suspects. . . .  Interviewing the suspects (first) would be useless, as the police have no witnesses, no concrete evidence, and no leverage.

 The beginning of a criminal-death investigation has as many variations as each murder has. One variation is shown in a movie made in India called No One Killed Jessica (2011). This movie reveals how a rich kid, in spite of many eye witnesses, got away with murder. Only after a journalist rallied public support did the legal system eventually take action, many years later, and get a conviction.


Question of the Month

What tips and lessons would you like to pass on to others about the Homicide Investigation?

Harrier
Keep an open mind. Acknowledge that when a family member is involved, you cannot be objective.

Marina
I don’t have any tips or lessons. This phase of the process did not last long enough. But don’t imagine that a quick arrest means automatic success down the road.

 Mary
Stay as calm and respectful as possible.
If you rant and rave, the police will shut you out and not keep you informed. Remember that you want their concentration to be on finding the killers and not on dealing with hysterical family members

 Take notes all along the way and document details about your contacts and the process.

 Read more in Chapter Five of Murder Survivor’s Handbook.


Resource of the Month

Black’s Law Dictionary: Free Online Legal Dictionary

Black’s Law Dictionary, the trusted legal dictionary of law definitions and terms for over 100 years. The 2nd edition has over 15K legal terms for your business and research use.

Not All Homicides Are Murder

In Chapter Five of  Murder Survivor’s Handbook there is a section called: Not all homicides are are murder. Many of  you question the charge that is being pursued in your case.  The book lists several different categories of homicide, manslaughter, and murder, with a description of each.

There are many terms that you will hear in the beginning of the investigation that will both confuse and baffle.  I was told about Black’s Free Law Dictionary from someone who works in the attorney general’s office in Florida when we exchanged ideas at a conference.  Many survivors and advocates  do not understand many words they are introduced to. I  have used this resource myself for this book.

If you are like me, you may want to read the definitions more than once. The amount of stress you are under will challenge comprehension. Check with your key contacts regarding their use or understanding of these terms, especially as it fits your situation.

We are not expected to have a criminal law degree, so I hope this resource will help you. We have words for different areas of our lives at  home, work, and pleasure for deeper specificity. I have words that fit inside my world of cooking, photography, and psychology. Criminal law has its own words as well.

What legal terms baffled you? Add your Voice and Tips


Inspiration by Tim Laurence, Journalist and Psychotherapist

My mentor, Megan Devine, has so beautifully said: “Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”

Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.

Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed. These things can only be carried.


Book Resources

R.I.P Memorial Wall Art by Joseph wall art webSciorra & Martha Cooper.

In the city of New York, families rarely get to visit the grave site of their loved ones, as the cemeteries are outside the city.  In response to this difficulty, Memorial Art honoring loved ones are placed on walls near where family and friends can gather for remembrance activities.  This is a photo book of this important art.

 Add your Voice and Tips


What you missed last month:         

Resource of the Month: VACC: Victim Assistance Coordinating Council
Topic of the Month:
The Early Response
Question of the Month:
How did you find out about your loved one(s) death?              Tips?
News:
Meet the MSH Team Eleven-Plus
Book Resources: All the Wrong Places: A life lost and found by Philip Connors, author of Fire Season



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Violent Loss Resources Team — Contact us

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

 

 

 

Violent Loss Newsletter, May 1, 2016

News you can use … (scroll down to see all)

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

  • Resource of the Month—VACC: Victim Assistance Coordinating Council.
  • Topic of the Month: The Early Response
  • Question of the Month: How did you find out about your loved one’s death?     Tips?
  • News: Meet MSH Team Eleven-Plus          
  • Book Resource: All the Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found by Philip Connors, author of Fire Season


celeste web

RESOURCE OF THE MONTH

Celeste Hunter received the Victim Advocate Award at the Annual Candlelight Tribute held during National Crime Victims Week by the VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATING COUNCIL. VACC  is a San Diego-based nonprofit umbrella organization composed of crime victims and a broad presentation of service providers vitally involved in various aspects of crime victim assistance. Its website is designed to provide information, options and resources available to victims and survivors of crime.

VACC is dedicated to providing better services to victims through the collaborative cooperation of our members from law enforcement, local government, medical and mental health agencies, and other victim service providers. The council is especially involved in educating the community about the plight and special needs of crime victims. Visit Victims Assistance Coordinating Council website and contact them with questions about how to set this up in your community.


TOPIC OF THE MONTH: THE EARLY RESPONSE

When a loved one dies, you may wonder: Who are all these people?

A flock of people become a part of this new life that no one wanted. Who they are is truly overwhelming for the family. They may include: law enforcement,  homicide investigators,  medical examiner, crisis interventionists, chaplain, victim advocates and more.

webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500webExcerpt from Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources, Chapter Four, by Connie Saindon, winner of the Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best in Self-Help, presented by the Independent Book Publishers Association:

One of the hardest jobs is to tell someone they lost a loved one.  (Hendricks, 2006)

I learned of the death of my sister from my mother. I asked if they had found her, and my mother’s voice cracked in a way I had never heard before.  “Yes, she is in the morgue.” (Halia)

“I’m sorry to tell you he expired.”
“Expired? What does that mean, expired? Milk expires, food expires, people don’t expire. They don’t have a date stamped on their foreheads.
What do you mean he expired?” (Bucholz, 2002)

 Displaced anger and rage are understandable. Blaming family members, law enforcement and yourself is common. While understandable, it doesn’t help. You need safe places and people to express this hurt. Displaced anger and judgments can interfere.

Life becomes instantly complicated, accompanied by waves of the most intense pain and chaos. It is as if nothing else matters. Not eating, not taking medicine, not picking up children or not feeding the dog. Everyday maintenance becomes secondary to the focus on this still shocking news. First responders are there to attend to some of the initial activities. Friends, neighbors, and extended family may be needed to take care of forgotten tasks.

Survivor Tips (partial list)

Get EVERYONE’S business cards so you have contact information, and keep everything in a large envelope so it stays together and you aren’t struggling to try to remember who was who and who does what. (Rose)

 As a survivor, tend to your grief, your emotions. I did not. In a criminal case, it’s easy to set that aside while you search for a reasonable explanation for what happened and to see that justice is done. That search consumed me, and 30 years passed before I truly addressed the underlying emotions associated with the deaths of my parents. (Harrier)

 I learned that the detectives and the DA are just doing their jobs and can’t help the family of the victim. The most helpful people in my case were the staff and secretaries at the court offices. (Kaila)

 

Resources (partial list)

Black’s Law DictionaryFree Online Law Dictionary

Parents of Murdered Children (POMC): www.pomc.com

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), provides an online directory of Victim Services throughout the country.

Excerpt from “Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources Chapter four,” by Connie Saindon:

Question of the Month: How did you find out about your loved one’s death?  Do you have any tips for other survivors?

Subscribe now . . . to add your Voice and Tips.


Meet  MSH Team Eleven-Plus

There were eleven anonymous survivor writers who contributed to the Murder Survivors Handbook, Real-life Stories, Tips & Resources by providing answers to questions to each chapter’s topics.  These volunteers DSC_0035were involved in writing answers to the two or more questions on one chapter per month. They could skip questions, review them before publication and make changes. Survivors  met quarterly over two and half years for updates and support, and to practice the resiliency strategies they identified at the beginning of this project.

Although painful at times, they were unwavering in their commitment to do be a part of this project if it would help someone else. At the end of this two-and-half-year project, each one received a copy of the book and a framed photo of their icon,  the symbol honoring their loved one.  These photos show both the value and the bond of this work for them. They are sent periodic updates regarding donated books and books bought by folks all over the country.

Recent review

I just finished the Murder Survivor’s Handbook and found it very helpful.  It is a comfort to know we’re not pioneers on this painful journey as we learn to navigate the judicial system.  While shocking and disappointing to hear how long and drawn out the process may be, at least it’s good to know it’s not unusual. I really appreciated the stories you shared from other survivors.  Also appreciated the info about forgiveness, as that has been a struggle for me as well.  I liked the line:  “I am not going to do the work on forgiving him,  I am going to leave that up to God.”

I’m actively involved with getting Marsy’s Law on the ballot in North Dakota.  Little things like that make you feel like you can at least help in some way.       —Rhonda, Survivor


BOOK RESOURCE

All the Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found by Philip Connors.

I was drawn to this book when I heard an interview on PBS.

On page 210, Connors writes: “… the mind of the suicide survivor tends to be haunted by the thought that the dead passed judgment on the living, and that whatever else a suicide signifies, it can’t help but contain the message that none of the living were enough of a sustaining connection to temper the allure of self-annihilation.”

Here are some reviews by others:

“Philip Connors probably had to write All the Wrong Places for his own peace of mind; but in the process, he has given all readers a gift …” (Charles Bock)

“… not so much about the mystery of his brother’s suicide as struggle to escape its gravitational field …” (Sam Lipsyte)



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What you missed last month:         

Topic of the Month: Dealing with the Media/Social Media
Resource of the Month: VSS
Question of the Month: “Latest News” Triggers/Alerts
Candlelight Vigil Update     


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

April 1, 2016 (No fooling!)

News you can use

 Contents:

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. http://victimsupportservices.org/

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.

 

 


Announcement
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: 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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