How writing helped Wilma Derksen forgive her daughter's murderer

The author explores her journey through grief after her daughter's murder in The Way of Letting Go.
Wilma Derksen shares the story of her daughter's abduction and murder in The Way of Letting Go. (Courtesy of Wilma Derksen/Zondervan)

Winnipeg author Wilma Derksen has spent her life helping victims of crime deal with their anger and grief. Derksen was drawn to helping others after her daughter was abducted and murdered 32 years ago. In her book The Way of Letting Go, Derksen shares her story and explains how she found hope in letting go.

Moving through her dark place

I was really surprised at the depth of anger in myself. I had to understand what my revenge fantasy was, to go to that feeling and admit that I could actually feel good about killing somebody who would kill my daughter. I had to go through that process of saying, "Is this really what I want? Do I want to live in this place of anger and hatred?" Then I said, "No. I can do something about it. I can let it go." That was my way of moving through all of these huge issues that I came into and hoped to bring my readers with me.

Understanding the other side

My journey into prisons was motivated because I did not know who the offender was for 27 years. I still don't know what exactly happened. I was able to manoeuvre into the prisons as a way of answering my own questions. Then I realized there was so much learning to be had on the other side. The huge stories of their victimization and realizing a lot of this emerges out of huge pain. It's a way of their coping with their anger and the rage. Those were the stories I wanted to talk about to give a sense of complexity. 

Finding forgiveness

Forgiveness is not a simply one-way answer. It is complicated. I can't even begin to unravel all the complications. My way of doing it was by telling the stories that defined me and hoping it will move the reader. 

Wilma Derksen's comments have been edited and condensed.