Parents of Murdered Children, Inc. (POMC), headquartered in Cincinnati,
Ohio, is the only national
self-help organization designed solely to offer emotional support and information about surviving the loss of a loved one to murder. It was founded by Charlotte and Bob Hullinger in 1978, three months after their daughter, Lisa, was murdered.
"It began out of our personal need, not out of any altruistic motives," Charlotte Hullinger says. "From it developed the realization that most people don't have any idea of what it's like to have a child murdered."
Based on the idea that grief must be shared, Parents of Murdered Children was born.
From its quiet birth, POMC has expanded to include other family members and friends who are
survivors. POMC now has Chapters and Contact Persons across the United States, and provides
assistance and support to over 100,000 survivors each year.
WHEN A LOVED ONE IS MURDERED
Facing the death of a loved one is never easy. When murder occurs, the anger, pain and grief are
compounded by the crushing realization that another person intentionally took the life of someone
precious. Adding to the family's trauma are intrusions into their grief. Police, lawyers and other members of the criminal justice system need information, evidence and testimony. Television and newspaper reporters often focus upon the victim without consulting the family. When a suspect is apprehended, preliminary hearings, postponements, trials and sentencing all force grieving families to face what may seem to be a lack of justice. In situations where the murder is unsolved or justice is otherwise compromised, there is even greater pain and confusion.
WHY WE ARE HERE
1. To provide ongoing emotional support needed to help parents and other survivors deal with the pain of their loss and facilitate the reconstruction of their lives.
2. To provide contact with similarly bereaved persons and establish self-help groups that meet regularly.
3. To provide information about the grief process and the criminal justice system as they pertain to the survivors of a homicide victim.
4. To communicate with professionals about the problems faced by those surviving a homicide victim.
5. To increase society's awareness of the problems faced by survivors.
LOCAL CHAPTERS AND CONTACT PERSONS
POMC local Chapters hold monthly meetings, provide a telephone network of support, supply information about the grief process, organize a speakers bureau and provide accompaniment for survivors who must attend court proceedings. Many Chapters publish their own newsletter.
In areas where there are not enough members to sustain a Chapter, Contact Persons provide much the same level of support.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A MEETING?
Most meetings begin with introductions and each survivor telling of their loss. Often there is a topic to guide discussions, such as the grief process, the criminal justice system or favorite memories. Usually meetings revolve around group members' own knowledge and experiences, but occasionally outside speakers are invited to present information and to learn from survivors.
One member said: "In the meetings, people are so supportive, you don't have to be afraid to say what you feel. No one is there to judge your feelings or to persuade you to think differently."
A reporter described a meeting in Wisconsin: "These mothers and fathers talked about their feelings of anger, hopelessness, bitterness and their seemingly endless grief. No one told them 'Forget about it' or 'You should be over that by now'"
As members help one another by sharing experiences, feelings and insights and by allowing others to do the same, their grief is somehow lessened.
THOUGHTS ON COPING
As parents and other family members who have survived the violent death of a son, daughter or other
loved one, we wish to share some thoughts on coping and to offer additional materials you may find
First, don't be surprised at the strong emotions that come - shock, disbelief, anger toward the murderer, frustration with justice being delayed or denied, a seeming loss of faith in God and people.
Second, expect to be numb, confused, depressed or unable to stop
crying. Sometimes survivors have
difficulty releasing their emotions. You may feel as if you are losing you sanity, but you're probably not. These are normal reactions.
Third, it is natural to experience a primal kind of fear. Childhood fears of the "boogeyman" coming in the middle of the night and murdering you become real.
Fourth, be gentle with yourself. Grief takes much longer to resolve than most people realize. It affects the body as well as the emotions.
Fifth, as much as you want to, don't build a wall around yourself. You are not alone, and being involved with others will help your recovery, especially if you can channel your strong emotions into constructive action.
HOW MAY WE HELP?
Every survivor has days that are more difficult than others. If you need to talk to someone, please call.
The National POMC staff is available to listen and assist you with specific problems. National POMC is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST. Your call is important to us. After hours an answering
service will relay your message and we will return your call as soon as possible.
National Parents of Murdered Children
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