Faith Today: Wilma, the book is set up as a
series of letting things go, like letting go of the
happy ending, letting go of your narrow faith.
How central to forgiveness is the concept of
Wilma Derksen: Forgiveness is the broader
umbrella word for letting go. It has been
essential to the last 30 years. It is a constant.
F T: In the book you talk about a man, the father
of a murdered child, who came to visit you to
commiserate, and he was so angry and bitter,
and you decided you didn’t want to be like that.
Can you tell us about that?
WD: When that man came I was so horri-
fied. In hindsight it was almost like a
prophet or an angel. I think it gave us that
fear to really address the grief and pain
and need for forgiveness in a way that was
so intentional. We were already forgiving,
I had already had it in my mind, but then
to apply it to this abyss of trauma that we
were so unaware of. I was almost panick-
ing thinking that we had to find an al-
ternative, and if we didn’t, it wouldn’t only
be Candace we had lost, it would be
I couldn’t do life like that man did it. I
had to fight it. I knew I was in for a battle
for my life. It has proven to be. I have
fought it to the best of my ability and now
I can say yes, it did keep us together. I
would have lost so much if I hadn’t em-
braced it. I struggled through each part of
it. It is the daily drudgery of letting go.
FT: When pain comes up again, and people
feel maybe they haven’t forgiven after all,
you write, “It isn’t that we can’t forgive or that
we haven’t forgiven, we just haven’t finished
forgiving as the issues continue to present
themselves to us.”
WD: Losing Candace looks differently to-
day than it did when I was a young woman.
Now it presents itself in a whole new way,
but it doesn’t finish. The issues continue.
It’s the time and the constant presentation
of the things you have lost in time. It’s
different in terms of where I’m sitting in
my personality at the time.
In November 1984, Wilma and Cliff Derksen’s 13-year-old
daughter Candace went missing on her way home from
school in Winnipeg. Seven weeks later her body was found.
Twenty-two years after that, charges were laid and a man
was found guilty. The case is now in an appeal process.
Throughout every parent’s worst nightmare, the Derksens
have been committed to forgiveness. Today WILMA
DERKSEN is a speaker and consultant on victimization and
criminal justice. She has just written The Way of Letting Go:
One Woman’s Walk Toward Forgiveness (Zondervan, 2017).