Coping with a loss

Parents of Murdered Children

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Nearly 15,000 people were murdered in the United States in 2012. The pain of a lost loved one will never go away for the survivors, but a national organization works to help them cope with it.

Hundreds of people gathered in Rochester for the 28th annual Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) Conference. Workshops and training sessions on how to deal with the pain are taking place all weekend, but the best help of all may be talking.

Sharon Huberty Wiggins has faced a tragedy no parent wants to deal with. Her son was murdered by an angry acquaintance with a gun.

“It hit my son in his aorta and the other kid in his back. If it wasn’t for the other kid being alive, they would have never known who did it,” Huberty Wiggins said.

Some people may want to bury that inside and forget, but Huberty Wiggins finds talking about it healing.

“I need the support from the other members. I need to be able to talk about my son, which a lot of people don’t want to hear,” Huberty Wiggins said.

She finds her support at the POMC Conference. It is a chance to talk with people who have faced the same tragedy in their lives.

“Most people don’t know what it’s like to lose someone, and they’re gone in an instant. It’s not a book that you read with a beginning and an end or a one-hour TV show. The ability to have others to talk to, it’s very therapeutic,” said National POMC Executive Director, Dan Levey.

60 chapters of the POMC across the country hold monthly meetings. Once a year for 28 years now, they all gather in one place to share their stories.

“We’ve had some people that have been at all 28 conferences. Most people come for a number of years, they may skip a year, or they may come every single year. Everybody deals with grief differently,” Levey said.

Huberty Wiggins has been attending nearly every year since 1999, which is two years after her son’s life was taken.

“Even if you say it a dozen times in one day, it is healing to say it over and over again. He was a person. He needs to be talked about,” Huberty Wiggins said.

She said do not be afraid to talk to someone about their tragedy. She said some may not want to talk about it, but most are happy to have another person to listen.

This is the first time the conference has been held in Rochester, and the second in Minnesota. Levey said no matter where the event is held, the biggest thing they hear from attendees is that they enjoy the ability to be themselves and talk about their loved ones.

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