NOVEL APPROACH: Two mothers united

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First Posted: 3/10/2014

We can read these authors time and time again — Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, and Ian Rankin, to name a few. Their works are harrowing, page-turning plots of crime and brutality and good versus bad. Most of us read anxiously, hopeful of justice: the bad punished and the good redeemed. As fiction, it ends with the close of the cover. But, for authors Lynn Shiner and Nancy Chavez, their book “Stabbed in the Heart” proves that reality is more haunting, as the only closure you can obtain comes from within.

In the introduction, journalist Nancy Eshelman writes: “What happens in the aftermath, when everyone has gone home? How do two women, two mothers, go on after the loss of their only children? How do they get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other?” In a space once filled with silence, we are given an answer with the emergence of two worthy voices united by loss.

In the work, Shiner and Chavez share not only the loss of their children as a result of violence, but also how the difficulties shaped their lives thereafter. On Christmas Day in 1994, Shiner’s 10-year-old daughter, Jennifer, and 8-year old son, David, were slain by their father. Less than a decade later, in 2003, Chavez’s 28-year-old daughter, Randi, was murdered at the hands of a hit man hired by her husband. While both stories appeared in the news, the private grief of these two mothers was never fully expressed until now.

The work, which is deeply evocative, is organized in a succinct manner as Shiner and Chavez write their accounts in alternation, coming through the journey of grief and forgiveness together. When they are not writing, Shiner and Chavez commit themselves to their professional work, advocating for their children and further victims of crime. Shiner currently serves as the director of the Office of Victims’ Services with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and Chavez serves as the portfolio manager with the Department of Public Welfare.

According to the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), at least 16,000 homicides occur annually, many in relation to domestic and/or intimate partner violence. The work of Shiner and Chavez, in print and in action, is indelible to our society in helping to raise awareness. Pythagoras once said: “Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence.” Through their accounts, Shiner and Chavez are helping those in silence discover the power behind their words, ones we hope, in time, can reverberate throughout the world and heal the hearts of many.

“Stabbed in the Heart” is exclusively available at All proceeds from the work are allocated to victims of crime initiatives.

‘Stabbed in the Heart’ by Lynn Shiner and Nancy Chavez Rating: W W W W W