Whether it happened days ago or years ago, the pain of losing someone to murder still feels fresh for families across Middle Tennessee.
Many of those victims were honored Thursday, during a time when the murder rate in Metro Nashville is higher than it's been in years.
For families who lost a loved one to violence, there are two extremely difficult parts of the year – the death anniversary and the holidays.
“It’s another year without a loved one, but it will be another year we will survive and make it together,” Catina Cole said.
Together, Cole and Marianne Purcell have been coming to Tennessee Season to Remember for years. It's an annual service that honors families of homicide victims.
Cole lost her son and Purcell her fiance in a brutal murder at a pizza restaurant in 2007.
“The pain never goes away, but do you live with it,” Purcell said.
The keynote speaker was Shannon Frazier. Her husband, TBI Special Agent De’Greaun Frazier was killed while working an undercover drug operation last summer.
“I have two small children and unfortunately I am a widow now and I have to take care of them and do what I know my husband would want me to do,” Shannon Frazier said.
And in another part of town, friends of 17-year-old Ja'Donte Thompson remembered him at a vigil.
Police say Thompson was killed Tuesday while trying to protect his family during a home invasion in North Nashville.
“His smile lit up a room, so we light these candles tonight for his smile,” said Thompson’s cousin, Ciera Holman.
Thompson was the 97th person this year to be killed in Nashville.
“We don't want to see this crowd growing anymore,” Purcell said.
Those who gather with other victims every year don't do so just to grieve, but to also advocate. Purcell has been pushing to strengthen laws that hold offenders accountable.
“If you give your pain a purpose, then they didn't die for nothing,” Purcell said.
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