By Rebecca Weiker

A few months ago, I spent the day meeting with a group of family members who have had their lives changed forever by acts of violence. Nobody there would have chosen to be a member of this group — all of us had either lost a loved one to murder, or had lost a loved one in an entirely different way.  Many brothers, sisters, sons and daughters were sentenced to die in prison for a crime committed in their youth.

My sister Wendy was a therapist who was passionate about supporting young people with mental health problems.  Almost 20 years ago she was murdered by one of her patients.  All these years later, I only now am at a place where I can consider this crime from a position of empathy.  I understand that I can choose what meaning to make of this experience.

I will never “get over” her death nor do I expect to shed the feeling of loss and deep sadness that comes from not having her in the world. She was truly a bright light in the world. She was my big sister and I looked up to her. I admired her commitment to justice, her warmth, her seemingly endless energy.

Click here to the full article on the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange website.