Saturday, August 10, 2002

Still mourning, they share their pain

Common link: murdered relative

By Steve Eder,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Marching behind bagpipers and with candles in hand, about 450 parents, siblings and friends of homicide victims converged on Fountain Square Friday evening to pay tribute to their loved ones.

        Approaching the fountain, they sang in unison, “We are the survivors, join together, we are strong.” Kim and David Tewksbury, whose father, Monte, was killed in a convenience store robbery in 1983, led the somber chorus.

        The memorial concluded the first full day of a conference by Parents of Murdered Children Inc. Throughout the day, survivors immersed themselves in seminars and activities on such topics as the spiritual issues of death, handling stress and understanding legal processes.

        This is the 16th national conference by the organization that was started in Cincinnati in 1978 after Bob and Charlotte Hullinger's 19-year-old daughter, Lisa, was killed by a former boyfriend. Looking for a way to cope with their grief, the family opened their home for a meeting with fellow parents of victims. The group now includes more than 100,000 members nationwide.

        The support group “saved my life,” said Carolyn Hardin, of Houston, who came to Cincinnati to attend her fourth conference. Her son, Steven, was killed in 1998. After her son's death, Ms. Hardin said, she locked herself in her bedroom for three months, until her daughter convinced her to go to a Parents of Murdered Children meeting.

        “You realize that you are not in this alone,” she added.

        This weekend's conference is the second for Timothy Osolin of Glendale, Ariz. His son, Ryan Andrew Osolin, was shot to death in 1997 when he was 19.The conferences bring people “in the same boat” from all corners of the nation to one place, he said, but “in the real world, people look at you strange. They don't understand.”

        Nancy Ruhe-Munch, the executive director of the group, said those who gather at the conference have a chance to be with others who truly understand their grief.

        “It is a society,” she said, and “you don't have to pretend.”

        Memorials, she said, help families understand that their loved ones won't be forgotten.


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