This is what I do, don't try to understand how I do it; I don't really know either

Posts tagged ‘grief’

My First Victim Statement

I wish victim statements were not a thing. I wish I was not an officially registered victim of a crime. I can wish until the cows come home but it changes nothing. Today I wrote my second victim statement because my offender is going to the parole board again and I decided to honor my story by publishing my first victim statement here. Writing a victim statement is a gut wrenching process to put it mildly. I am thinking of all the victims who have to do this process and I am with you.

To the CSC and Parole Board of Canada,

              In July of 1994 I was 15 years of age and living with the Roberts family while my mother was away for an extended period of time. I had known Susan Roberts since she was in high school. She adopted me as her little sister. She supported me, affirmed me and loved me like an older sister would do. She had three beautiful children. That July, Dean Christopher Roberts took all of that way.

I lost the strongest and most positive person in my life. I had a difficult childhood and I struggled with self esteem and suicidal thoughts. Susan Roberts was a light in my life from the day I met her. She was my own personal cheerleader. I knew that no matter what I did, she would always be there for me, to love me and encourage me to move forward. At an incredibly vulnerable time in my life, Dean took away the biggest support I had. I told her things I had never told anyone else before. I trusted her and felt unconditional love in return. When she was gone I was left reeling. I felt empty and alone. It was a dark place that got darker. I didn’t sleep, I barely ate. Every morning I walked to the Safeway to look at the newspapers to learn any new information. The faces of people closest to me were often on the news. I felt hollow. I felt like I was a walking zombie and in a constant state of shock. I felt hopeless and more alone than I had every felt in my life. It was one thing to be alone before I met Susan, but to have someone who loved you, made you feel special and that you were worth something; to know what that felt like and then have that ripped away was like two opposing forces literally pulling at each side of your heart until it tears in two. I was at the bottom of a pit that had no end, no light and no escape.

As Susan’s husband, I trusted Dean. He appeared to be a loving and caring husband and father. He welcomed me to their home and lives. He made us laugh, he changed diapers and Susan loved him deeply. To realize that the man who covenanted to love and protect her, was the one who ended her life and the lives of their two sons while leaving Susan’s son to die in the fire, was a knife that cut to the very core of my soul. It did not seem fathomable that this man who we knew to be gentle and compassionate could commit such atrocities. I could not reconcile these two opposing forces in my young mind, and I know many adults could not either.

We rallied to his defense because this could not be true. As the hearings began and evidence unfolded, the pieces slowly came together that highlighted the path which lead to the conclusion that the man we knew did not exist. Hidden beneath this carefully constructed image was someone known only to few, someone who was capable of lies, plotting and destroying the people who loved him the most in the world.

All trust I ever had was broken. I never could have believed he did this, and yet he did. He fooled almost the entire community so this was not a case of the naivety of youth. This gut wrenching betrayal has stayed with me and brought into my life a mistrust for people. If I was so wrong before, could I be wrong again? I have been afraid of people at times. I have been afraid that people would hurt me physically and emotionally, which has negatively impacted many personal relationships. There are layers to the pain and loss that go deeper than I know exist. This is more than just a loss, there is betrayal, fear anxiety, insecurity and agony.

I miss Susan and the babies every single day of my life. The pain that came from their loss will never go away. It faded some with time, to allow me to continue with life but it will never ever leave. I still cry because I miss them. I have been robbed of Susan being in my life and celebrating all the high moments, but even more important, she would have been there with me through the lows, to encourage and love me. I think of the babies and how old they would be, what grades they would have gotten, what passions they would have pursued. I was robbed of the opportunity to love and support them as they grew through life. I babysat them, fed them, played with them and wanted to be a better person for them to look up to.

I also lost Jonathan. Though he physically survived he has been scarred in ways that will never heal. Had Susan been alive I would have been able to watch him grow in the safety and security of his mother’s care. She chose for him to be born, even though the circumstances were not ideal. Her love for him was fierce. He went to live with another family that had awkward relationships and I lost a closeness and connectedness that we should have had. He was so special to me and how Susan adored him. I was only 15 years old and I knew no one would ever give him to me but he was the person left who tied me the closest to her. He has never known a love that should have been, because Dean took that from us.

Dean was a master of puppets in his own show. He orchestrated the murders in such a way that had he not been trapped in an elaborate plan from the police and confessed, he could likely have gotten away with these crimes with no penalty. He was not remorseful after. He did not care that I brought him his ring that I found, which was a gift from Susan. He had a plan and carried out that plan with forethought, precision and accuracy. Thankfully he was outsmarted and exposed.

Is it possible for someone who so callously premeditated these killings to be rehabilitated? Is it ever possible to change? There are no certain answers to those questions, but what I have is the evidence that shows that Dean Roberts knows how to deceive people. He knows how to pretend and to say what you want to hear. He knows how to play by the rules so you think he is a rule abider. The only way to ever know if he has changed, is to release him to the public and see if he ever kills again. That test is a fail from the outset because the risk to society is not worth the chance. Someone else’s life is not worth hoping that he has learned his lesson from killing three people. I do not believe it is safe for the community if he should be released from prison. He only cares about himself – he always has, but he knows how to disguise this with socially acceptable behaviours.

His biological father has told my mother that Dean will get out of jail and will come and find me. At his trial in Nelson I stared him down when he was brought to the courthouse and when he left, which he complained to the judge about. I testified against him to help him be convicted. I am not afraid of him, but I do think he may want to harm me or those closest to me. Because of this, I ask that he not be allowed to contact me or my relatives nor reside in the same area that I do. In the unfortunate event that he be granted release, I request that he not be allowed to reside or travel in the areas of Cranbrook or Nelson.

He has not ever taken responsibility for his actions, yet he did murder three innocent and beautiful people in a vicious manner without regard for anyone or anything. He was determined to live a new life without them as demonstrated by the fact that he tried to poison them and when that didn’t work, he resorted to physical violence. Insurance money was of greater importance to him than human lives. I was there after dinner when they were sick. I thought it was the stomach flu and even still I felt awful for them to be so sick and in pain. I helped clean up and take care of them. He had many opportunities for a conscience to overrule his plan, for some kind of empathy to stop him and yet there was none. He is incredibly intelligent, but intelligence devoid of feeling and compassion gives us this cold and calculating killer.

Can you really expect someone as cold and callous as a man who planned the death of his wife and children to be a valuable contributor to our society? How can I feel safe – how can I feel that anyone is safe if he is not in prison? Why are we putting other people’s lives at risk? Does he have a right to be out of jail? Didn’t they have a right to live? This wasn’t a crime of passion where he needs to learn better anger management. He got what he wanted, and what he wanted was his wife and children dead but he shouldn’t get to be free. He will always place a greater value to what he wants, than anything or anyone else in his life. I am not safe if he is free, and neither is anyone else.

Gone for 20 years; never, ever forgotten

Different things are triggers for different people. I have been pretending I’m ok but i am deeply effected by memories and timing.

I don’t think there’s anyone in Canada who doesn’t know about the story of the family in Calgary who are suffering a tragic loss. So senseless and so deep. I can not express my deepest empathy into words for them.

20 years ago today my very close friend and her twin sons were murdered by their husband and father. The very man who vowed to protect them.

Every time I see the news and the faces of those grandparents and grandson I keep thinking, I know what that’s like for their family. I know how it feels to hold a photo in your hand of people you love and see their faces on tv. I know what it’s like to not be able to call anymore. To never hear their voices again. To watch every second of the news because that’s how you know what’s going on with the case. You don’t get privy to special information, you watch and wait like everyone else.

I also know what it’s like to live without them. To feel the emptiness when they are not there to celebrate major life events with you. To support each other in hard times and love you through your challenges, because it’s what she always did. To not know what the boys would grow to become.

I know that it’s been 20 years, 2 decades, and I haven’t forgotten a thing. Not anything I saw, not anything I felt and not anything that was said. The pain doesn’t end. It changes but it never ends with something so horrific. That’s just reality.

She left me with the best gift she ever could. I was being my usual challenging teenager self and we were disagreeing on something but she called me. She called me and said she just couldn’t leave it. She wanted me to know we would work it through and the very last words she ever spoke to me were “I love you”.

I will never forget. I have many photos, I still have her jeans and her perfume. I will always have them in my heart. One day I will get to heaven and they are waiting. That day the pain will end, not a moment sooner.

I know your kickin it with Jesus; Susan, Josiah and David. I miss you.

Be a friend & shut your mouth

It was not even 10am and I had already greatly angered a complete stranger. That doesn’t usually happen that early in the day.

I have a pet peeve – well a few to be completely honest. This particular one is when well intentioned people say stupid things to hurting people. YES, I get that they are well intentioned but it doesn’t make what they said any less stupid and I am just not going to ignore it.

I have  a friend who is going through an incredibly difficult time, to put it lightly. She should be celebrating a great joy and instead she is wading through loss and grief in addition to all her regular responsibilities. I can not imagine what she’s going through right now and she was open and honest (publicly) about how she can not imagine how she was going to be able to carry on through the week.

A well intentioned friend commented that “He will never give you more than you can handle.” Where the heck did that stupid phrase come from? Can we eliminate it from English please! I commented that this is no where in scripture and not even accurate. I let her know that I recognized her desire to comfort her friend but there are times we do have more than we can handle and it’s in those times we need Him the most because we can not make it through on our own.

This phrase also superimposes that God has given her all this shit right now. This is not necessarily accurate either. Sometimes we make our own storms, sometimes other people make storms in our life. There is also a devil who wants to seek, kill, and destroy; so please lets not leave him out of the equation of storm making.

The final and most important reason I hate this phrase, is that when you are in the middle of all of that, it does feel like it is more than you can handle. I know I have been there. I have had this very thing said to me and it completely minimizes the pain and hurt you are trying to get above. It makes you feel incompetent and like you are weak because if God never gives you more than you can handle why can’t I handle this? It makes you feel like you should put on a happy face and pretend like your ok when your NOT ok.

We need to be free to be real with people. We need to have others know when we are drowning and need help. Well intentioned people can still cause more hurt and pain, and if we learn anything from the book of Job, it is that sometimes the best thing a friend can do is sit in the ashes with us and keep their mouth shut.

Where to stick your bumper sticker theology

I recently read this blog about God not giving us more than we can bear by Nate Pyle. Honest, truthful, bold stuff. The last two years of my life have been filled with a lot of pain and this really hit my heart in a way I needed. I have been through many difficult things in my life: sexual abuse, death of a baby, separation, death of family members and friends by natural causes, accidents and murder.

Almost without fail some, probably well intentioned, Christian has spouted off some little phrase they heard that they think will help. I love how Nate referenced it to bumper sticker theology. So true!

I love how Job’s friends stayed in silence with him, at first. How much better off would they have been if they had stayed that way. We just get so uncomfortable with silence we feel the need to fill it with something – anything. Saying stupid things like, “it’s for the best,” or “they’re in a better place,” really doesn’t help me in my pain.

A dear friend recently said to me, “if He brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” In her case, I know she meant well and we have a relationship where I could comment back that I think there are many things in life that He doesn’t bring us to, but we go running full tilt into ourselves, never the less, He can still bring us through.

What will help, is other people who know when it’s better to not say anything at all. Sometimes I just need people to BE with me. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15

Here are ways to ACTUALLY be helpful:

Learn to be ok with silence

Tell someone you will pray for them and then actually do it

See if there is a tangible need that you can meet

Stay connected

Pain is uncomfortable for the person in it and those around them. The past two years have been a long, hard, painful process for me, but those who have walked with me through it have carried me in more ways than they know. Bumper stickers will fade and peel. True friends, with hearts like Jesus, show love continuously.

Carrying your grief for life

I have lost many people in my life in many different ways. The pain from some of those losses has lessened over time, for others the pain can be fresh and real at any moment. I think this has given me the ability to relate to others who are in pain and understand things they might be going through.

Initially you need to give yourself time to grieve. That may look different for everyone. Whatever your way to grieve is, is what you need to do. How are you going to get out those overwhelming initial waves of pain? Do you need to cry, scream, build something or go for a walk? Do you need to be with people or be alone? Whatever it is make sure you take the time to self care and not just stuff everything inside. There will be times when you need to hold it together to accomplish some of life’s demands, but there has to be some time for a release of emotions.

Once you get through the initial torrent of grief, comes the time of returning back to routine and what life will now be like with the absence of the person lost. This is where I think some people get lost. This process is especially a problem if the loss is significant – how do you “get back to life” when there is a gaping hole?

As I mentioned before there are some losses that I will carry with me. There are times in life when I think, “she should be here,” “they would be X years old now,” or “she would be so proud.” There is something, someone missing. There is pain you carry.

I was recently reading about a mom who lost her son and she realized that others were going through the same thing she was and decided to reach out. Her son died in a Marine Corp helicopter crash and she sends packets of letters and helpful materials to families also affected by such a loss. Philip Yancey  says, “The activity has not solved the grief for her son, of course, but it has given her a sense of meaning, and she no longer feels helpless against that grief.”

I think that is the key – finding a way to find meaning and no longer feel helpless against the grief. I am convinced I will carry this pain with me until I reach heaven and so I have to find a way to not have that loss overwhelm or dictate the rest of my life. We will never find meaning if we only focus on ourselves. Look at the needs of those around you. Is there a soup kitchen nearby that could use  a volunteer? Are there other families you could host a group for? There are so many different ways to get involved that the importance is to do just that – get involved. You are not helpless – your life doesn’t have to end just because theirs did. You still have life – live it, and live it with meaning.