CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- The 13th Annual Day of Remembrance vigil brings together a community of survivors who have lost a loved one to homicide.
The MUSC National Crime Victims Research & Treatment Center partners with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office for the remembrance event.
It’s an emotional night as individuals share stories and memories in honor of someone missing from their lives.
Vanessa Halyard lost her son William in 1998 to gun violence when he was a senior at South Carolina State University.
“Even though it’s been 20 years, sometimes it feels like yesterday,” she says.
At the time of her son’s death, his daughter Chelsea was only a year old. She’ll be graduating from her father’s alma mater SC State University in December.
“It was so important to her to graduate from the university that her father attended. We have a legacy with South Carolina State Bulldogs and she’s carrying out that legacy,” says Halyard.
Halyard says that events like tonight make sure that people like her son are remembered and honored.
Dr. Alyssa Rhinegold is the Director of Clinical Operations at the MUSC National Crime Victims Center. They provide counseling and services for survivors of homicide who have lost a loved one to murder.
“For some folks, it can make them feel very isolated and alone. It’s a different type of loss than any other type of loss,” says Rhinegold. “An event like this is an opportunity to help people recognize that they are not alone and that there’s a community here to support them.”
This community of individuals is called the ‘Survivors of Homicide Support Group.” They’re a family that has formed out of unforeseen circumstances.
“This group and this community really is a family. It’s a family that no one really started out choosing to be a part of…but a family nonetheless.”
While memories are shared with both tears and laughs, members of the family can draw strength from one another.