Sharon Purnell is the project coordinator for Purpose Over Pain, a crisis support group for parents who have lost children to gun violence. 

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‘Put the Guns Down’

by Sharon Purnell 06-05-2024
The image shows a sculpture of a weeping person kneeling over a dead body with a display in the back showing faces of people killed by gun violence.

In March, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," a life-sized sculpture donated by Canadian artist Timothy P. Schmalz, was installed outside of St. Sabrina Catholic Church in Chicago in partnership with Purpose Over Pain. / Anthony Vasquez / Chicago Sun-Times

I ONLY HAD one child. His name was Damien Purnell. He was 31 years old. In 2017, January 13, I got the worst call of my life. I was at work, and I found out my son got shot five times at my house. I hibernated for five years. And when I say hibernated, I really did. I only went to work and that was it. I was hurting so much inside. It was a pain that was unbearable. My husband was my support system. We cried with each other. I was never mad at God. I finally started getting up and getting out.