Families of Pulse victims rely on each other for support one year later
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Families of Pulse victims and survivors are relying on each other for support and healing one year after their loved ones were killed or enduring the nightclub tragedy.
News 6 met with three mothers who lost their children during the attack. They say it's still painful at times to think or talk about their loved ones.
"A year later, it's still like it was yesterday. It's still the same pain. It's still the same struggle," Mayra Alvear, the mother of Pulse victim 25-year-old Amanda Alvear, said.
But there are also times of thanks.
"This situation brought us all together," Alvear said.
Those feelings and emotions are the bricks of a healing foundation built by these mothers of Pulse victims.
They are part of a support group with families impacted by the tragedy. They meet every week in Osceola County to talk, remember, and grieve.
"She's just wonderful, and I hate that I lost her there and the way that she died," Alvear said.
Alvear told News 6 she fell into a depression after her daughter was killed during the nightclub attack. She said she didn't know how to mourn her death.
"I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't want to get out of the house," she said.
Until she leaned on the support group. She said the families helped her learn how to live with the pain.
"You find comfort in talking with these other families? You find healing?" News 6's Amanda Castro asked. "Totally, totally. It's a family that we've created. It's been amazing," Alvear said.
The group is coming together through tragedy. The mothers of victims, 20-year-old Luis Omar Ocacio Capo and 39-year-old Luis Daniel Conde, are also seeking stability and solace a year later.
"I joined the group because I knew those mothers that were there felt the same pain I do," Carmen Capo, Luis Omar Ocacio Capo's mother, said in Spanish. "They were the only people that could understand the great pain you feel and what it is to lose a child."
The support group is rebuilding after tragedy through hugs and tears and their trust in each other and their faith. The mothers tells News 6 they have stopped by the Pulse site to find peace and heal their wounds.
"It was where my daughter took her last breath and I just want to change that bad tragedy into something that is more powerful," Alvear said.
Alvear wants the site to be about love. She's doing that through her organization, Hugs Not Hate. The group paints positive messages on rocks and leaves them at the nightclub and all over Central Florida.
They spread love, peace, and hug strangers as a way to keep the 49 victims' spirits alive.
"I don't want them to be forgotten. I want them to be their legacy of spreading love all over," Alvear said.
While they say it is hard to think about one year since the tragedy, they say they know they will get through the difficult day together. They also hope others who are feeling their same pain seek similar comfort.
"They've been able to give us support and they've honestly taught us to live with the pain," Magda Soto, Luis Daniel Conde's mother, said in Spanish. "I recommend to these families that if they have the opportunity to get this therapy to join like us - it would be a great benefit."
They are relying on this foundation of support, comfort, and healing, no matter how long they need their new family.
"How long do you think you're going to need each other?" Castro asked. "We have asked this question...and you know, for as long as it takes," Alvear said.
"All I can say is I lost one. And from that one that went away, I have gained a complete family and we're united in the 49 that have left us, that are 49 angels," Soto said.
"If I hadn't joined this group, I don't know what would have become of my life without that support, without the care, without that family," Capo said.
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