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Dear Family:


I am very sorry for your loss. My youngest son was murdered in May 1994. That is why I founded Survivors/Victims of Tragedy, Inc. in December, 1997, as a Support Group for those of us who have lost a loved one through murder. We are meeting at the new office of Black on Black Crime, Inc., which is at 14715 Euclid Avenue, East Cleveland, Ohio 44112, on the second Tuesday of each month at 5 pm. If you can’t come to that location, I can schedule a meeting with you at a location closer to you. Also, every other month or so, we meet for dinner at local restaurants. Call if you would like to go with us to dinner.

If you would like to become involved in an activist group, such as Black on Black Crime, Inc., to help us stop the violence that surrounds our children, please let me know. Help us expand and strengthen our outreach services to others; such as, reaching out to parents whose child or other family member has been murdered, families of missing children or adults, candlelight vigils, protests, marches, talking to the kids at schools, community centers, churches, etc.

On August 2, 2002, we dedicated a Memorial Wall/Wall of Sorrows at 14748-70 Euclid Avenue, East Cleveland, Ohio 44112. The Memorial Wall, which is 4' x 30', lists the names of over 1,400 children and young adults between the ages of birth through 25 who have been murdered in Cuyahoga County since 1990. Pictures of the Memorial Wall Building are now included on the website listed below. We had to take the Memorial Wall/Wall of Sorrows down, but the panels of the Memorial Wall, pictures and other things that were put on the building have been stored for safekeeping until we can complete the rebuilding of the Wall. We would like to rebuild the Memorial Wall/Wall of Sorrows in the future to create a beautiful and peaceful area in the neighborhood and a place for families to gather. We need your help.


Judy Martin


Homicides in Cuyahoga County, Ohio (1990 - present)



Total Year Total Homicides Homicides Ages 0 to 25 Yrs  
102 = 46%
88  = 37%
92  = 41%
96  = 46%
74  = 41%
78  = 46%
57  = 40%
51 = 40%
51  = 41%
48  = 44%
39  = 40%
50 = 45%
42  = 37%
42  = 38%
49  = 45%
67 = 46%
58 = 39%
76 = 45%
53 = 45%
64 = 49%
64 = 46%
Murdered to Date 6/13/14
Since 1990
1,488 = 43%

Totals for 2005 include 10 killed in Iraq who were from Cuyahoga County, of which 6 were between the ages of 0-25.

There were 452 to 456 citizens from Cuyahoga County killed during the war in Vietnam. That war lasted around 15 years.   As you can see from the above totals, in the 12 full years since 1990, more than 2,000 people have been murdered in Cuyahoga County (almost 4 times as many people who were killed during the Vietnam War).   Out of that number, over 900 of those murders have been of children and young adults.   If you take it one step further, that means approximately 5,000 children and young adults have been killed in Ohio since 1990.   And if you take it another big step, that means that around 100,000 children and young adults have been murdered in this country since 1990.   We have been at war and our children have been in great danger in this country since the late 1980's.   Why haven't we united to stop the violence and save our children?   There's been a holocaust of genocide perpetrated in this country since the late 1980's.   When are we going to do something about this horrendous problem?


When will the murders of our children stop?
Why do our children kill each other?
Why do friends, acquaintances or
strangers kill each other?
Why are our children killing each other? When will respect replace disdain?
When will love replace hate?
When will courtesy replace discourtesy?
When will tolerance replace intolerance?

"Non-Violence is a way of life for courageous people." Martin Luther King Jr.

If you are interested in creating a Memorial Reflection Garden for the Memorial Wall/Wall of Sorrows: DONATIONS CAN BE MADE AT ANY HUNTINGTON BANK, Acct. No. 4102144064, or at the branch at 1545 East 260 Street, Euclid, Ohio 44132.

1. If every person in Cuyahoga County donated at least $5.00, we could purchase land for a Memorial Wall Reflection Garden.
2. The money would be raised to create a Memorial Wall Reflection Garden, which will include a huge wall for the Memorial Wall, pictures, murals, etc., a courtyard & benches.

All monies donated will be used to purchase land to create a Memorial Wall and a Reflection Garden. If you have any questions about the Memorial Wall, please call Judy Martin at 216.990.0679.


When dealing with grief, your own or others, remember the following:

1. Grief is a normal, natural and necessary process associated with any loss.
2. Grief involves physical, as well as, emotional responses.
3. Grief is hard work; it takes a lot of energy; do not cut the process short. [Grief, especially after a violent death, creates deep emotional and physical stress; watch your blood pressure.]
4. Allow yourself to really experience your feelings.
5. Share your feelings with someone you trust.
6. Suggestions come from many sources; trust yourself to do what is "right" for you.
7. Have realistic expectations of yourself. 8. Deal with one hour, one day, at a time. The whole situation can be overwhelming if looked at all at once.
9. Really get into your grief work: do the things that are hard to do such as going places you used to go together or listening to favorite songs, etc.
10. You do not "get over" grief in the sense of forgetting; rather, grief will lessen and soften with time. [Years.]
11. Seek help from appropriate resources such as meetings, organizations and reading material related to grief.
12. Seek a professional counselor now if that seems helpful.

(Tina Jordan, M.S.N., Coordinator, St. Joseph Hospital's Hospice, Kirkwood, MO.)


1. Your grief will take longer than most people think. [You don't just get "over" it -- not in a day or a month or even a year. In fact, we don't "get over" it. When your child is murdered, the grief might soften a tiny bit with time, but it doesn't go away.]
2. Your grief will take more energy that you would ever have imagined. [Wiped out completely.]
3. Your grief will involve many changes and be continually developing.
4. Your grief will show itself in all spheres of your life: psychological, social and physical.
5. Your grief will depend upon how you perceive your loss.
6. You will grieve for many things, both symbolic and tangible; not just the death alone.
7. You will grieve for what you have lost already and for what you have lost for the future.
8. Your grief will entail mourning not only for the actual person you lost but also for all of the hopes, dreams and unfulfilled expectations you held for and with that person, and for the needs that will go unmet because of the death.
9. Your grief will involve a wide variety of feelings and reactions, not solely those that are generally thought of as grief, such as depression and sadness. 10. The loss will resurrect old issues, feelings and unresolved conflicts from the past.
11. You will have some identity confusion as a result of a major loss.
12. You may have a combination of anger and depression, such as irritability, frustration, annoyance or intolerance.
13. You will feel some anger and guilt, or at least some manifestation of these emotions.
14. You may have a lack of self-concern.
15. You may experience grief spasms and acute upsurges of grief that occur suddenly with no warning. [There might [will be] times when you get in your car, and begin screaming as soon as you hit the highway because no one can hear you. You're not crazy. It has happened to too many of us.]
16. You will have trouble thinking (memory, organization and intellectual processing)
17. You may feel like you are going crazy.
18. You may be obsessed with the death and preoccupied with the deceased. [Of course, this was our child who was killed.]
19. You may begin a search for meaning and may question your religion and/or philosophy of life. [Remember that a person took your child's life. It wasn't your child's time. God didn't kill him.]

[Unknown author; comments in brackets, bold & italics by Judy Martin.]

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. John 14:1-4.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27.


1. Grief, with its many ups and downs, lasts far longer than society in general recognizes. Be patient with yourself.
2. Each person's grief is individual. You and your family will experience it and cope with it differently.
3. Crying is an acceptable and healthy expression of grief and releases built-up tension for the bereaved person. Cry freely as you feel the need.
4. Physical reactions to the death of a loved one may include [extreme tenseness throughout the whole body, but especially in the neck and jaw areas, high blood pressure], loss of appetite or overeating, sleeplessness, and sexual difficulties. The bereaved may find that he/she has very little energy and cannot concentrate. [There may be times when you feel you cannot physically get up from bed in the morning or leave your house.] A balanced diet, rest and moderate exercise are especially important for you at this time. [Although it may be very difficult to do this during the 3 to 6 months after the death of your loved one and periodically during the following months and years.]
5. Avoid the use of drugs and alcohol. Medication should be taken sparingly and only under the supervision of your physician. Many substances are addictive and can lead to a chemical dependence. In addition, they may stop or delay the necessary grieving process. [At times you might need assistance, so don't be afraid to talk to a fellow survivor, friend or doctor.]
6. Friends and relatives may be uncomfortable around you. They want to erase your pain, but do not know how. Take the initiative and help them learn how to be supportive to you. Talk about your loved one so they know this is appropriate. 7. Whenever possible, put off major decisions (changing residence, changing job, etc.) for at least a year.
8. Avoid making hasty decisions about your loved one's belongings. Do not allow others to take over or to rush you. You can do it little by little whenever you feel ready.
9. The bereaved may feel he/she has nothing to live for and may think about a release from this intense pain. Be assured that many bereaved persons feel this way, but that a sense of purpose and meaning does return. The pain does lesson. [Infinitesimally, by degrees over a long period of time.]
10. Guilt, real or imagined, is a normal part of grief. It surfaces in thoughts and feelings of "if only." In order to resolve this guilt, learn to express and share these feelings, and learn to forgive yourself.
11. [Rage and] anger are another common reaction to loss. [Rage and] anger, like guilt, needs expression and sharing in a healthy and acceptable manner. [We always seem to find a way to blame ourselves; somehow it was our fault.]
12. Children are often the forgotten grievers within a family. They are experiencing many of the same emotions you are, so share thoughts and tears with them. Though it is a painful time, be sure they feel loved and included.
13. Holidays and the anniversaries of your loved one's birth and death can be stressful times. Consider the feelings of the entire family in planning how to spend the day. Allow time and space for your emotional needs.
14. A loved one's death often causes the bereaved to challenge and examine his faith or philosophy of life. Don't be disturbed if you are questioning old beliefs. Talk about it. For many, faith offers help to accept the unacceptable.

[Unknown author; comments in brackets, bold & italics by Judy Martin.]

I don't know why.
I'll never know why.
I don't have to know why.
I don't like it.
I don't have to like it.
What I do have to do is make a choice about my living.
What I do want to do is accept it and go on living.
The choice is mine.
I can go on living, valuing every moment in a way I never did
before, or I can be destroyed by it and, in turn, destroy others.
I thought I was immortal. That my family and my children were also.
That tragedy happened only to others. But I know now that life is tenuous and valuable.
So I am choosing to go on living, making the most of the time I have,
valuing my family and friends in a way never possible before.

Iris Bolton

Come to me, all you whoa re weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:25-30.


1. Know you can survive. You may not think so, but you can.
2. Struggle with "why" it happened until you no longer need to know "why," or until you are satisfied with partial answers. [I don't think there is an answer to "why," especially in deaths resulting from random violence unless we blame the death on greed, stupidity, cruelty, etc.]
3. Know you may feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your feelings but all your feelings are normal.
4. [Rage,] anger, guilt, confusion, forgetfulness are common responses. You are not crazy -- you are in mourning.
5. Be aware you may feel appropriate anger at the person, at the world, at God, at yourself.
6. You may feel guilty for what you think you did or did not do.
7. Having suicidal thoughts is common. It does not mean that you will act on those thoughts.
8. Remember to take one moment or one day at a time.
9. Find a good listener with whom to share. Call someone.
10. Don't be afraid to cry. Tears are healing.
11. Give yourself time to heal [years].
12. Remember, the choice was not yours. No one is the sole influence in another's life.
13. Expect setbacks. Don't panic if emotions return like a tidal wave [because they will]. You may only be experiencing a remnant of grief. [Grief at all levels will reoccur at one time or another for some time, but time will bring changes.] 14. Try to put off major decisions.
15. Give yourself permission to get professional help.
16. Be aware of the pain of your family and friends.
17. Be patient with yourself and with others.
18. Set your own limits and learn to say no.
19. Steer clear of people who want to tell you what or how to feel.
20. Know that there are supports groups that can be helpful [Survivors/Victims of Tragedy, VOICES, POMC].
21. Call on your personal faith to help you through.
22. It is common to experience physical reactions to your grief, i.e., headaches, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, etc. [high blood pressure; anxiety attacks].
23. The willingness to laugh with others and at yourself is healing. [The ability to laugh will come back after lots of time has passed. You will know the first time you actually smile spontaneously without have to think about it first.]
24. Wear out your questions, anger, guilt or other feelings until you can let them go.
25. Know that you will never be the same again, but you can survive and go beyond just surviving.

[Your child is with God; he is beyond hurt; he is now surrounded by love.]

[It's hard, but don't give up.]

(Reprinted from Bolton, I. (1993), My son, My son.) [Bracketed comments in bold & italics added by Judy Martin.]

One person can may make a plan, but many can carry it through.
One person can see straight ahead, but many can widen the view.
One person can mix, the cement, but many can pave the road.
One person can lift the weight, but many can move the load.
One person can state a problem, but many can reach a solution.
One person can step back from trouble, but many can end the confusion.
One voice can sing the melody, many voices can harmonize.
One leader can inspire, but the followers must energize.
One set of hands can plant the seed, but many can plow the field.
One person can waste a harvest, but many can share its yield.
One mind can dream of victory, many hearts can brave the war.
One person can accomplish wonders, but many can do so much more.
(Unknown author.)

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10.

Steps in the Grief Process

Grief is not a sign of Weakness

Grief is not a sign of weakness. It is, rather, a healthy and fitting response to a loss, a tribute to a loved one who has died. Running away from grief postpones sorrow; clinging to grief prolongs pain. Neither approach leads to healing. Allow grief to have its way for a while; then, gradually and gently, you can release yourself from its grip. Recognition of the appropriateness and the value of grief is the first step in accepting the reality of the loss, and acceptance is the first sign of recovery.

Each of us is different, but for most people, grieving follows a pattern, and proceeds through stages. We do not all experience every phase. Nor do we move through grief at the same pace or with equal intensity. The following characteristics constitute the basic elements of the grief experience. Reviewing them might help you to identify your own pattern, determine where you are in the process and anticipate what you have yet to go through.

A period of numbness usually follows the event of a loved one's death. One feels stunned, in a trance. It could last only minutes, but also persist for days or even longer. The state of shock allows a person time to absorb what has happened and to begin to adjust. People sometimes use tranquilizers to extend this period. There's also a tendency to leave decision making to others. Yet, it is important to face the reality of the death and to regain control of the direction of one's life. [In situations like ours, where we lost a loved one through violence, shock, being in a trance, or feeling stunned, can be severe and might last for weeks. You might also, in the beginning and periodically thereafter for about a year, almost lose the ability to move.] Emotional Upheaval
As shock wears off, grief gives rise to a variety of emotions. When such feelings seem overwhelming, we do well to defer major decisions. Other grievers and counselors can help us interpret and deal with these feelings. as we come to understand what we experience, we can find appropriate ways to ventilate our emotions and to channel them to our advantage.

[There's always deep rage at the murder and death of our child/grandchild/relative. The rage can be directed at yourself, the police, the murderer, the press, family or friends. It can also be unrecognized and manifest itself in blood pressure surges, extreme tenseness in the shoulders, neck and jaw areas.]
Many people fault themselves in connection with a loved one's death. We have all made mistakes in our relationships and sincere regret is the best response to them. However, self-reproach out of proportion to our behavior can affect our mental health and impede our recovery from grief. Close friends or a trusted counselor can aid us in confronting and dealing with guilt feelings, whether justified or exaggerated. [All of us feel guilty because as "Moms" we think we were supposed to have been there to stop the bullet from being fired or, at the very least, gotten in the way of the bullet. We have to remember that we didn't put a gun or knife in the killer's hands. Another person made the horrible choice to take our child's life. Not God, but another person.] Hostility
People in grief naturally ask "Why?" Why him? Why now? Why like this? Most of these questions have no answers. Frustration then causes us to feel resentment and anger. We want someone to blame: God, doctors, clergy, ourselves, even the person who died. If we can accept the lack of answers to "Why?", we might begin to ask what we can do not to grow through what has happened. Then we have started to move beyond anger and toward hope. [Remember that it might be years before you really begin to move a little beyond the grief, pain and anger. Having a child murdered is different from losing a child in any other way. The grief is huge and intense in both cases, but very different, too.]
Physical Distress
The mental and emotional upset of a loss can cause physical distress and make us vulnerable to illness. Grief sometimes causes us to neglect healthy nourishment and exercise or to overindulge ourselves in drinking, smoking or medication. We might need a doctor's advice in regard to our symptoms, their causes and their treatment. [Consult your doctor about your blood pressure, anxiety and stress.] Panic
The death of a loved one makes the future very uncertain. We might panic in the face of the unknown and the fear of "going it alone." Panic prevents concentration and defers acceptance of the finality of death. It tempts us to run from life, to avoid people and to refuse to try new things. Patience with ourselves and a willingness to accept help from others will enable us to subdue panic and outgrow its confusion.

Grievers typically, but in varying degrees, experience loneliness and depression. This pain, too, will pass. It is important to realize that being alone need not inevitably result in loneliness. Moreover, stresses other than the death loss could account for depression. Reaching out to others is a key way to lessen loneliness and to overcome depression. [It's easier said than done, but when the walls start to close in, when you close the curtains, turn off the lights and can't get out of bed or find the energy to get out of the chair or leave the house, call someone. Try to call someone who has also lost a child to violence so you can talk, cry or scream, and you know the person you are talking to will understand.] Aimlessness
At times in the grieving process, a kind of drifting occurs. Mourners find it difficult to return to familiar, even necessary, activities. We prefer to daydream about what was or fantasize about what might have been. If we can foster gratitude for the past and being to assess our potential for the future, this will prove a passing phase rather than a permanent state of aimlessness. [The state of your mind can go far beyond "aimlessness." You might find that you can't remember words that were just spoken; that when you are at work, you can't remember instructions just seconds after your boss gave them to you. Your ability to concentrate might disappear for periods of time.]
In time and with effort, hope grows. We can express emotions without embarrassment or apology. We can feel concern for and show interest in others. We can make decisions and assume responsibility for ourselves. The example of other recovered grievers can serve as signs of hope for ourselves. [When you have lost a child because of violent murder, your emotional state will be fragile, volatile, passive and helpless, among other descriptive words. Don't feel like you have to apologize for crying. Talk to others who really know the depth of your despair because hope is a long way away.] Reaffirmation
Eventually, a bereaved person recognizes and embraces a healing truth: grief has changed me, but has not destroyed me. I've discovered new things about myself. I can build on the strengths developed through adversity. I'm no longer my "old self," but I'm still me, and I face the future with confidence. [It may take a lot of time before this reaffirmation comes about. There's no time limit. It may be a year or five years. Affirmation will come and go. At some point, a "kind" person will tell you that "life goes on." How cruel. We know that life goes on because we are still going to work, paying bills, and trying to find a way to survive, but life is different now and will always be different.]
[Unknown author; comments in brackets, bold & italics by Judy Martin.]

Remember me with love and kindness
for you know I truly cared.

Remember me with good deeds,
reaching out, never forgetting others needs.

Remember me with a prayer
giving Thanks that I was there.

For as long as you remember me
and share the memory with some,
my life will never be over even
though I'm gone.
(author unknown)
A Million Times…

A million times we’ve needed you. A million times we’ve cried. If love alone could’ve saved you, you would have never died. In life we loved you dearly. In death we love you still. In our hearts you hold a place none else could ever fill. It broke our hearts to lose you. But you did not go alone. Part of us went with you. The day God took you home, a heart of gold stopped beating. Two shining eyes at rest. God broke our hears to prove He only takes the best. To some you are forgotten. To others just part of the past. But to us who loved and lost you, the memory will always last.
(author unknown)




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