LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In a matter of hours, homes will have the whiff of turkeys cooking and the living room will fill with laughter from Thanksgiving Day parades playing on TV, but one thing will be noticeably different in more than one hundred homes across Arkansas. An empty chair at the dinner table.
The year, 2021 carried more news alerts about shootings and homicides, more Facebook posts announcing the passing of loved ones because of violence and more unexpected funerals.
The number of homicides have already soared over 100 across three Central Arkansas cities:
Little Rock: 59
Pine Bluff: 26
North Little Rock: 21
These are not just numbers though. These are people who will not be with their family on Thanksgiving.
Central Arkansas Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children Advocate Melinda Crowder says their phones are ringing. On the other end of the phone is a family grieving.
“Losing a loved one is so hard, but when it is at the hands of another person there are so many more obstacles to overcome,” says Crowder.
Crowder says reflecting on traditions will bring up all kinds of emotion.
“If it’s your first holiday without your loved one, you may not even feel like getting out of bed,” she says. “If you are close to a victim’s family, check in on them. Sometimes just being present or bringing a plate means the world.”
The support group has three victim advocates along with volunteers to support grieving families over the holidays.