Monday, September 27, 2010

Gone Too Soon

Margaret Summers sent us the link to this piece she wrote for National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. The title is "Gone Too Soon: Honoring Homicide Victims."

It is beyond difficult to lose a loved one to murder. The horror of a spouse, child, sibling, parent or other relative’s life abruptly ended by a single, violent act is a trauma that lasts forever. I know; I’ve had friends who have lost loved ones in that manner. I lost an uncle and a cousin that way.

In the absence of loved ones, lost to homicide, what’s left are a constant pain, grief, heartache and trauma imposed upon the surviving family by the violent behavior of another human being. The yawning void threatens to swallow one up every day, the void that used to be filled by someone now gone forever. Sometimes one forgets, and picks up the phone to call that person with whom one shared a laugh, made plans to go out for “movie night,” or catch up on family news. Then suddenly, it all comes back; no one will answer the phone; the voice one always looked forward to hearing with joy and anticipation, is eternally stilled.

Everything one sees underscores that loss. Parents of murdered children remember them when they see parents with strollers in the park, or hear the happy shouts of little ones at play. The spouse left behind feels remorse when watching couples holding hands. Wherever one turns, there is the reminder that the son who dreamed of becoming an astronaut is forever denied the dream, or the murdered parent will never again attend PTA meetings or volunteer for school activities.

Murder decimates not only families and friends, but also entire communities. Murder rips away our teachers, our doctors and nurses, our police officers, our sanitation workers, everyone who once made a significant contribution to our neighborhoods. As the title of a song Stevie Wonder sings has it, they are “Gone Too Soon.”

The annual National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims on September 25 gives us all the opportunity to remember those lost to homicide, and honor their memories. Cities and states hold programs, workshops and other events focusing on the impact of murder on families and communities, the issues survivors of homicide victims face, and ways to better support and serve survivors.

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has long had the participation of family members of murder victims on its Board of Directors and in its states’ Affiliates. They have insisted that their murdered loved ones would not have wanted their killers executed in their names. However, they recognized that in the national debate over capital punishment, the needs of homicide victims’ survivors are sometimes unintentionally overlooked. NCADP’s new program, Rachel’s Fund, is designed to strengthen the bonds between the abolition movement and families of murder victims and of death row prisoners, so that together we may help create effective policies that prevent violent crime, ensure our communities’ safety, and assist victims’ survivors.

This National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, let’s take the time to honor the memories of those lost to homicide, and embrace the theme of the day, “Remember; Remind; Respect”:

Remember: The happiness and joy the deceased loved ones brought to all of us;

Remind: Our memories of murder victims remind us of our loss;

Respect: For the lives of murdered loved ones, the rights of their survivors as co-victims, and for justice.

For more information about NCADP's Rachel's Fund Program, please visit

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