Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
National Justice and Hope for Victims of Crime held a memorial service earlier this month to honor those friends and family members lost to violent crime. The event opened with prayers, songs, and candles lit in honor of those lost loved ones while their families shared a meal.
The event also featured the unveiling of a plaque bearing the names of those lost crime victims and a reading of the names listed on the plaque.
Pastor Ben James, of First Church of Christ, told the crowd that he’s been “honored” to speak at the event for the last couple of years. Jones spoke about the role of grief in dealing with a loss.
“One of the things that all of us face, immediately… is grief,” he said. “While grief has so many different faces, so many different stages… one of the things that everyone who experiences grief will feel is a sense of guilt.”
That guilt can come from asking questions, like what the survivor could have done differently, he explained. He said that can cause survivors to look back into their relationship, and not only at what they could have done in the time immediately leading up to the loss of their loved one, but looking back at the entirety of their relationship with them and if they could have done something earlier that would have made a difference down the road.
James shared the Old Testament story of Elijah, from the book of Kings as an example.
“You see these highs and lows and the peaks and valleys of his life,” James said. “He deals with despair, he deals with guilt, he deals with regret. He deals with loneliness. These are all things he is dealing with while doing what God has asked him to do.”
He said while you don’t want to attribute the tragedy in your life to part of God’s plan or will, “even in the midst of doing what God wants us to do, there are going to be peaks and there are going to be valleys.”
“We need to maintain our perspective,” he explained, and remember that, “God is a God of hope.”
“The second thing… never underestimate the power of community,” he said, noting that having others around you can help you to cope in those situations.
“There is power in relationships. There is power in community,” James said.
Anne Perkins, executive director of Safe Harbor domestic violence shelter discussed emergency protective orders and how those can help keep women and children safe from their abusers and avoid becoming another domestic violence statistic.
Others also shared their stories and experiences with the families there to honor loved ones while sharing a meal, and the event closed with an acknowledgement of those who have helped support the organization in their mission to bring justice and closure to those families.
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