“All human life has its seasons, and no one’s personal chaos can be permanent: winter, after all does not last forever does it? There is summer, too, and spring, and though sometimes when branches stay dark and the earth cracks with ice, one thinks they will never come, that spring, that summer, but they do, and always." T.Capote
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How I Became a Member of the Club That No One Wants to Join
By Sanford Wolcott
On October 18th, 1986 at about 5:00 am, I was awakened by a phone call. It was my ex-mother-in-law. She was hysterical.
"Sanford!" she shouted, "Greg killed Becky! Get over here! The kids need you!"
"I'll be right there", I said. I jumped out of bed and raced. The 15 minute drive to the neighborhood of Fairmont Park where she lived and where my ex-wife lived across the street with our two children, her husband and their son.
I arrived to find the police at my children's house and my children at their grandmother's- terrified and splattered in blood.
Sometime the night before Becky and Greg had started arguing. The fight had gone on all night and ended with Greg stabbing her 16 times while the children watched. After killing Becky, he got into his car, drove to the Coronado Bay Bridge and jumped to his death.
My 13 year old son had tried to stop him. After Greg left, he picked up the phone and called 911 while staring at the lifeless blood-covered body of his mother.
I was horrified and in shock! My first love, the girl I had met and fallen in love with in high school had just been brutally murdered while our children watched!!!
I had to be strong for them even though I was falling apart on the inside. It was up to me to try and put their lives back together. I couldn't do it.
Of course the children needed counseling. They wouldn't have it. And, of course, I didn't need any counseling either. Ha!
The years went by. My son started using drugs and alcohol. He dropped out of high school.
My daughter just went numb. Life happened around her but there was no joy. She got married and has three children of her own and is a good mother. But it was always there; like an elephant in your living room that you pretend isn't there. There was the anxiety. The panic attacks were so strong she would think she was having a heart attack.
My son got married and had two children. His drinking got worse. His marriage was falling apart. It was 2001 and I offered to try and help again. This time he said okay.
I didn't know where to go but I started making phone calls. After leaving several messages and getting no response a woman finally returned my call.
She said her name was Connie Saindon. I made an appointment to see her. After telling my story, she asked me to have my son call her.
He did and when he met with her she told him about the program of the survivors of violent loss program. He went to one orientation and decided it wasn't for him.
It would take three more years and almost dying to get him into the program.
My daughter's panic attacks were becoming more frequent. They would paralyze her. She decided to see Connie and later to do the 10 week Survivors of Violent Loss program. She went for a few weeks but couldn't bring herself to complete it. I asked her if it would help if I went with her and she said yes.
I have now gone through the program twice: once with my daughter in 2001 and once with my son in 2005. I am so thankful for the survivors program. It has made a huge difference in our lives.
I asked my son today what he would say the program has done for him. He said, "It has given me back my life and happiness."
He still gets sad but his heart doesn't ache every day. The time between thoughts of his mother's death gets longer and longer and has been replaced by happy memories of her.
The program, started by Connie and continuing today under the direction of Mary Edwards, is of the greatest importance for all of us that are members of a club we never wanted to join: the survivors of violent loss.
I am honored to share my story with all of you and let you know there is hope. We will never forget the loved ones we have lost but with help from programs like Survivors of Violent Loss we can move from constant grief and negative emotions to remembering their lives with joy.