Paul Henderson/ The Progress David Isaacson (right) with help from new acquaintance Ed Scherbey recently cleaned up the front lawn of the house where his son Cody Isaacson was killed in a hail of bullets on Jan. 31.

Family of murder victims suffer a unique kind of grief

Father of Chilliwack homicide victim returns to scene of the killing to clean up the lawn

As David Isaacson rakes up garbage on the front lawn of a house on Broadway Avenue, he talks constantly – his mood running the gamut from anger to joke-making to determination to sadness.

One minute a chuckle. And literally the next, a face contorted with tears.

“I want to say that Dad loves you Cody,” he says, looking up, holding back the floodgate.

Isaacson was recently cleaning up the front lawn of the house where his son Cody was murdered in a hail of bullets a few weeks prior.

A known drug dealer in a known drug house, Cody Isaacson died after more than a dozen bullets were sprayed into the front bedroom and front door of the notorious house at the corner of Broadway and Cedar Avenue around 6 a.m. on Jan. 31.

No one has been arrested, but the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) is on the case.

Cody’s father David’s reaction to the killing ranged from shock to relief, the latter sentiment knowing the business his son was messed up in. But what brought him to clean up the mess on the front lawn of the house he was killed in, was part of the complicated reality of grief that comes with traumatic death.

“It’s just a respect thing,” David says when asked why he came to clean up the mess, dumped there after the house was gutted by other drug-house denizens after the killing. He later put up a sign on the lawn saying that he loved Cody, but that was soon taken down.

“It’s bad enough he was murdered here, now there is this mess? It’s bad for the neighbours.”

Lucy Fraser is director of programs at the Chilliwack Hospice Society, which hosts various bereavement programs, including one for traumatic loss.

“It adds a multiple layer to grieving,” Fraser says of the particular grief associated with losing someone to homicide or suicide or other sudden tragedy.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack Hospice offers up traumatic loss workshop

“With traumatic loss, the nature of trauma is that emotions aren’t processed. It’s kind of like people get frozen in time. They have recurring nightmares. They’re kind of not reintegrating, which happens [also] in death that is not traumatic.”

What can be unique is just how complicated the grief that comes with trauma can be.

Isaacson was left almost with a sense of relief after his son’s killing, predicting as he did that it would happen one day.

• READ MORE: Father of Chilliwack homicide victim said he knew it was coming

For weeks after the shooting, Isaacson moved between acceptance of the death given his faith in God, and anger at the justice system for what he says was a minimal investigation after a home invasion in October.

Ed Scherbey knows some of what Isaacson is going through, as his son Corey died in mysterious circumstances in August 2011 in a house downtown Chilliwack. Ed’s wife Gladys found Corey face down, dead on his couch surrounded by blood. The Scherbeys insist he was murdered but the RCMP chalked the death up to a cocaine/alcohol overdose.

Still, bloody footprints, an odd message written on a pizza box, and an anonymous note left suggesting it was a homicide, has the Scherbeys obsessed with the case to this day.

Ed Scherbey met David Isaacson through a group that focuses on perceived injustices in B.C.’s criminal justice system. Ed joined David that day to help clean up the front lawn of the house where Cody was murdered.

All these years later, Ed talks about the weekend his son died as if it were yesterday. He recalls the hot temperature that Friday evening in August when he showed up with two junior bacon cheeseburgers for his bachelor son, and there was a woman there who Ed didn’t know. So he left.

When Gladys found the body on Monday morning, and after the investigation and the body removal crew was done, Ed went to the house. Seven years later he describes the mysterious details left behind and it clearly haunts him.

“It’s with you in the morning, it’s with you at night,” he says. “What can you do? My mother is buried next to Corey. It ate her up. She lit a candle for him every day.”

That type of recollection doesn’t surprise Fraser.

“Those struck by suicide or homicide are left often with very vivid imagery. Whether they see the person [who died] or afterwards, they create an image and often that’s another sign of people being traumatized is they cannot get that vivid imagery out of their head.”

Is it unhealthy to grieve in this near obsessive way?

“I would avoid the word unhealthy when you are seeing grief,” Fraser says. “I used to say ‘you are not going to die from grief’ but I don’t say that anymore. The reality is, a very small percentage of the population will become very ill.

“I think there is even a broken heart syndrome.”

Time can heal, but in some cases it cannot. For many, the first year after a traumatic death is extremely hard, but the second year can be even worse when the condolences dry up, the paper work is done, and the gifts of food and visits from friends slow down.

“The second year people can feel a little bit on their own.”

As for what can help, finding a purpose in the death can be along the lines of those who get involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving after suffering a death at the hand of a drunk driver.

“It helps a lot of people to find meaning out of a death as in, ‘my son didn’t die in vain.’ Then they do better with grief.”

But one of the important things Fraser says people should know is that grief is an entirely normal, human experience.

“If people died from grief we wouldn’t have a planet,” she says.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Christmas cheer, crafts and music at Chilliwack and Yarrow libraries

Make festive ornaments out of old books while enjoying Christmas music at Chilliwack libraries

Fleeing driver picks fight with Chilliwack police dog, loses

Good dog ‘Griff’ also locates large quantity of what police believe to be crystal meth in Abbotsford

Chilliwack company faces charges for 2017 abuse of chickens

CFIA investigation leads to 38 charges against Elite Farm Services and Ontario-based Sofina Foods

Water-filled ditch had pump going to prevent flooding in Chilliwack

City crews monitoring site on Ashwell Road after heavy rain hit Chilliwack Wednesday

Snow prayers answered as Manning Park ski hill opens Friday

Ski hill will be open seven days a week starting Dec. 14, and cross-country trails as well

Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Most Read