January 30th, 2013
10:26 AM ET

After son’s shooting death, learning to endure ‘pain of loss’

By Nova Safo, CNN

Twitter link: @nova_safo

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - For parents who’ve lost a child to gun violence, whether in Newtown or an inner-city street, Chicago Police Officer Ron Holt’s journey through grief may be a familiar one.

On May 10, 2007, Holt’s 16-year-old son Blair was shot and killed by another teenager, Michael Pace, on a crowded city bus. Pace was looking for a rival gang member. He shot several rounds indiscriminately at the passengers. Blair shielded another student, according to witnesses, and was shot in the abdomen. He died a few hours later at a hospital.

Blair’s death drew national media attention. It elicited outrage and vigils. When all the attention went away, Ron Holt was left to deal with his grief.

[:19] “The pain of loss, for me it doesn’t dissipate. I’ve learned to endure that emotional pain, that scarring of loss.”

Holt sees a lot of parallels between what he has been through, and what parents in Newtown are likely going through now.

[5:19] “When I see them on television, not knowing any of them, I see that lethargic, stoic, kind of numb look – where they’re just kind of just looking off into a dark abyss.”

Susan Johnson, executive director of Chicago’s Citizens for Change has watched a lot of children die from gun violence over the last 20 years, and has helped a lot of grieving parents. One of the ways parents often deal with their grief is channeling it into action, Jonson said.

[6:25] “Their lives have been taken from them, and restoring that sense of purpose is key to moving on. For many parents, that purpose comes in prevention. Trying to prevent this from happening again to anyone else.”

In Newtown, parents started an organization called Sandy Hook Promise. In Chicago, Ron Holt started a foundation in Blair’s name and became the leader of Purpose Over Pain, which advocates for new gun laws and supports other grieving parents.

Listen to our story above to hear Ron Holt talk about his journey through five years of grief, and to learn about what he wants to say to the young man who killed his son.

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