Healing Dialogues are open to any person who has lost a loved one to homicide and/or has a loved one who was convicted of a crime as a young person (under 24 years) and is currently serving a life sentence or other severe adult sentence.
We recognize that each person’s healing journey is unique, and do not require participants to forgive or accept forgiveness. We ask that participants listen to each other with compassion and an open heart. To listen with presence does not imply that we accept another person’s actions or beliefs. Each participant acts as a compassionate witness to the others’ life experiences and stories. We may share our pain, anger and suffering and sometimes, our celebration, love, and joy.
We also understand that each of us gets to decide what “readiness” means for us. The amount of time that has passed since we were separated from our loved one may be many years, or just recently. Each participant decides when she is ready, regardless of date on the calendar or what people think we should be able or willing to do.
Many of our participants find deep solace in their faith. We recognize and support the place that spirituality plays in many people’s lives. We also understand that for others, faith does not play a role. We want to create a space for all participants where their beliefs, (including nonbelief), are given space and respected.
Finally, participants should share a genuine interest in connecting with people from both experiences. Our group is unique in that it offers support to both victim and offender family members and we want participation to be a positive and safe experience for everyone.
The following are guidelines that we ask participants to commit to in order to create a safe space for all:
- Confidentiality: The story you tell here is your story, no one re-tells it without your permission
- Listen with respect
- Listen without judgment, without comparing pain
- Listen with compassion
- Take a break if you need it
- Step up, tell your story honestly and with openness, then, step back, let others speak