INDIANAPOLIS — As Indianapolis closes out 2021 with another record breaking year of homicides, the families of more than 260 victims are preparing to spend the holidays without their loved ones.
Of those homicides, many are results of gun violence.
“Gun violence is a disruptor,” said DeAndra Dycus. “It’s a disruptor of life. It’s a disruptor of dreams. It’s a disruptor of hope.”
Dycus is the executive director and founder for local non-profit, Purpose 4 My Pain. She started it after nearly losing her son, Dre, seven years ago. He was hit by a stray bullet while at a birthday party as a teenager.
Now 21 years old, he’s paralyzed, unable to speak and requires 24 hour care.
Though he survived, Dycus says their lives are forever changed.
“I’m preparing to actually go get Dre and bring him home with us for the holidays, and for me this morning, it was emotional,” she said. “Yes, I’m excited I can bring Dre home, but the thought that Christmas is so different. That I’m going to a facility to get my child, and when I bring him home it’s 24 hour care, 24 hour watch. He can’t open gifts.”
The life-changing impacts of gun violence are the drivers behind Purpose 4 My Pain and its mission to help surviving families.
Last weekend, the organization partnered up with area groups to bring the holidays to more than 100 people through its Christmas With A Purpose event. Those numbers, which Dycus says are the most they served in the event’s six years, include kids and the now single parents, or grandparents, left behind to raise them following gun violence in their families.
“A lot of the families that we serviced this year, this was their first time. This will be their first Christmas without their loved ones,” she said.
As families embark on a difficult journey, Dycus says it’s important that those around them know how to offer support.
“You learn to handle survivors lightly. Not to the point where you feel like you can’t be around them, you can’t interact with them, because some families feel that way,” she said. “They feel like they lost loved ones. They feel like they lost friends because people don’t know how to act or be around them. They just want you to love on them, and a big part of it is to just sit and listen.”
Purpose 4 My Pain also offers a variety of services, including grief support, funeral assistance and even financial help for therapy sessions.
When the holidays come, Dycus encourages families to allow themselves to feel their pain while also recognizing the good in their lives.
“We can get so caught up in our grief that we are blocking out those that we still have and missing those moments, and we don’t want another opportunity of regret,” she said. “We want to make sure that we allow ourselves to feel it, but also allow ourselves to enjoy the moments that we do have.”
That’s also what she plans to do as she celebrates another holiday with her own family.
“I’m going to allow myself to feel it and I’m going to reside in a place of gratitude of being with Dre in the capacity that I can, and that’s what I encourage the other families to do,” she added.
For anyone interested in support services or resources through Purpose 4 My Pain, Dycus encourages you to reach out. You can fill out the contact form and an outreach worker will get in touch with you. You can also call 317-983-1418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sibling support groups are also offered through S.C.A.R.S. Dycus says this group is open to any siblings, who have experienced all kinds of loss, whether it be gun violence, cancer or other causes.
“Sometimes the pain of the parents overshadows that of the child, but they are hurting too, and so they can reach out through our website or also on Facebook under S.C.A.R.S.,” Dycus said.