New York Daily News
By Ruby Millner and Fredrina Clark
September 6, 2020
Six months after the COVID-19 global pandemic took over New York City and the world, shootings in the five boroughs have skyrocketed. Already, more than 1,000 shootings have happened this year — nearly double the number up to this point last year.
That violence impacts many victims, including many, like us, who were never touched by a bullet.
Both of us lost our sons to gun violence. The bullets that killed them killed us, too. Our spirit, hopes and some dreams were crushed the day our sons left this Earth.
Survivors like us, who have lost mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children and beloved friends are living in a state of constant trauma right now. We live with that trauma every day, and do our best to manage our reactions — anger, fear, deep sadness, feeling on guard and alert, flashbacks, dreams and trouble concentrating, etc. This increase in shootings has made it difficult to turn on the news without fearing we will relive the worst moments of our lives.
Every time we hear about another shooting in a Black or Brown community, we feel as if the blood of our own Black children is covering the streets. Entire communities are living in fear, afraid to go outside, afraid to take our normal route home from work, afraid to have our children play outside, afraid to go out into our own streets and enjoy our communities.
Some of us fear every knock on the door, because the next person who knocks could be there to tell you about the loss of a loved one.
We hope those reading this who haven’t lost a loved one to violence never come to know this: The moment a family member is murdered, your life is turned upside down. It can be made worse when first responders — police officers, medical professionals, investigators — are not sensitive to the needs of survivors. The professionals who deal with gun violence daily too often “tune out” the survivor’s feelings, which can complicate their grieving process.
No, the grief never ends. But it can be managed, and it allays our pain a bit if we can feel like we are helping others manage their own grief and shock.
For one, we cannot stress enough that therapy can be one of the most powerful elements in your journey to healing.
If you decide to reach out for professional help, you might consider contacting organizations with professionals trained in trauma who are your ear to listen, your shoulder to cry on, your pillar to have strength when you feel you have none. It is necessary for your survival. We both got help from Safe Horizon, a victim’s services agency here in New York City.
Even now, years after we lost our sons, we are still being supported by Safe Horizon. We urge you to seek out an organization like this if you have lost a loved one to gun violence.
Your support systems — family and friends — are also there to help you and be there with you. Do not be afraid to lean on them.
Our deepest hope is that no one else has to live with the loss of a child, or any loved one to gun violence. That no more communities like ours have to live in fear.
Until then, we want those in power to be clear-eyed about the real cost of gun violence. It goes far beyond those pierced by bullets. The impact of gun violence is far, it’s wide and it’s deep. We need an end.
Millner lost her son to gun violence in 2014. Clark lost her son in 2018. His case remains unsolved.