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Getting through the holiday season when you have lost a loved one is tough enough. Now imagine you lost your family member to violence.
How would you handle it? Who would you turn to?
Well, thanks to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Homicide Support Group, these members of our community have the critical support they need this time of year.
They gathered at CMPD headquarters Tuesday night for a memorial tree lighting and dinner.
Lu Prudhomme's daughter Cherilyn, was murdered in 2008. A volunteer for the support group since then, she says it's a way to give back.
"It never goes away but it softens," she said, referring to the pain. "We understand each other. We don't have to explain our pain and it just gives us all a place to come."
The dinner and tree lighting is part of CMPD's homicide support group efforts.
Homicide survivors often feel isolated. By working together in a group setting, they can feel less isolated. Survivors help each other gain an understanding of loss and grief.
Families members of the victims hung an ornament on the tree with the loved one's name and dater of their death as a way of remembering them.
Prudhomme says it's important the community never forget the victims either.
"We will celebrate their birthdays," she said. "We will celebrate their angel dates and they will always be a part of our holidays because they're a part of our lives."
The support group is made of up law enforcement officers, homicide survivors, United Family Services representatives and other agencies working to provide a safe and understanding environment where experiences can be shared, information exchanged, and support provided.
Also telling: many of these homicides are still unsolved. Of the 49 homicides so far in 2012, 12 of them are still unsolved.
Like the murder of Patsy Martin's son, Ronald, who was killed in April. She looks forward to the day when her son's killer is brought to justice.
"I pray for that everyday," said Martin. "Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow."
In the meantime, she shares her message with anyone willing to listen.
"I wanted to tell all the mothers what they need to do is to praise and love their children because they might see them today and they'll be gone tomorrow," she said.
For more information about the Homicide Support Group, please click here.