Homicide vigil turns individual grieving into group therapy

Homicide vigil turns individual grieving into group therapy

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It was a collection of more than 150 people, with more than 150 heartbreaking stories. This collection of individuals is all dealing with loss.

They all came together in unity Sunday evening, Sept. 24, at Reid Park in Tucson for the annual National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims Candlelight Vigil.

"For survivors, a lot of times - especially folks who are new - it can feel so isolating. That nobody can possibly understand what it is that they're going
through, because their life has been completely rocked," said Vanessa Helms, Homicide Survivors Executive Director.

Coming together has been an annual ritual.

Numerous family members and friends of homicide victims spoke, as well as homicide detectives from the Tucson Police Department. 

The evening ended with a candlelight vigil, as each person was given a chance to share the name of the person close to them who was killed.

They shed away that loneliness, and it was almost therapeutic for Mary Riley.

"My son, Kyle John Riley, was killed January 30, 2013, here in Tucson," she said, talking about how his murder remains a cold case <>.

Now, he's one of the more than 600 Southern Arizona murder victims memorialized in one place - a wall of photos hung at Sunday's vigil.

It became a place of reflection for the hundreds of people who showed up. Even a place of reflection for Riley, even if she doesn't like having to bring it up.

"I don't. But it's my world," she told Tucson News Now. "It's what I am today - the mother of a murdered child. That will never change."

She's now a member of a group, among countless other people, of which she unwittingly became a member.

"Nobody wanted to be in this group. Nobody signed up for this," Riley said, as her eyes watered

The group's organizers just hope they don't try to recover alone.

"It's sort of putting it out there in the universe saying that it doesn't have to be held inside me anymore," said Helms. "That I can share this with other people who get it - who understand."

Learn more about the various year-round programs on the Homicide Survivors, Inc. website here.

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