SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – One Bay Area mother was able to do something pretty remarkable: forgive the man who murdered her son. In the new documentary, Unlikely Friends, which will be screening in San Francisco on July 11th, Radha Stern of Mill Valley shares her story of tragic loss and extraordinary forgiveness.
KCBS’ Connie C. Kim talks to Radha Stern:
In March of 1996, Stern’s 21-year-old son Christopher was shot by his roommate and died on the way to the hospital.
Within two weeks of this tragedy, Stern joined Compassionate Friends, a nationwide organization that provides support and care for families who have lost a child.
It was the first step in healing herself and eventually forgiving her son’s murderer.
“When this happened 17 years ago I decided that I wanted to live and not just live but thrive,” Stern told KCBS, “and to walk around the world being angry and resentful is not a good idea when you want to live like that.”
The perpetrator of the crime, Mark James Taylor, is now serving a nineteen and half-year prison sentence. Stern said she was thrown into this ugly relationship with this man – one that threatened to break her – and felt the only way to survive was to forgive him.
“The moment you forgive the perpetrator it’s like opening the prison door only to let yourself out,” Stern shared about the freedom she felt when she finally made that choice.
“I also don’t want my son’s life to only be about that he was a murdered young man. You know, he had so much more. There’s so much more to our lives than this.”
She now devotes her life to helping others who have lost loved ones due to violent crime.
She is active in the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Insight Prison Project, and The Compassionate Friends (for parents who have lost a child). She is a contributor to the inspirational book, Courage Does Not Always Roar: Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Courage and author of Griefprints: A Practical Guide for Supporting a Grieving Person.
“People that I work with now, because I’m strong and happy and having a great life, they say I represent hope for them,” Stern spoke with passion about her new purpose in life. “Now what a wonderful thing for me to be able to do for somebody who’s going through something like this.”
The new documentary, Unlikely Friends, will be screening at The Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco on Thursday, July 11 at 6 PM.
For more information go to InsightPrisonProject. org.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)