Jerry Wright was supposed to celebrate his 34th birthday this past weekend. He was supposed to decorate the Christmas tree with his mother after Thanksgiving dinner — their annual ritual — and celebrate the holidays with his newborn nephews.

Instead, his mother spent the weekend giving away baskets of Thanksgiving food in Jerry’s honor.

“Holidays aren’t the same anymore,” Jerry’s mother, Maria, said.

Jerry Wright was one of 49 people shot and killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016 — and just one of the hundreds of people who’ve died in mass shootings in recent years.

“I would do anything to have my son back. It’s been three and a half years, and I miss him every single day,” Wright said. “They say time heals, but it doesn’t heal this.”

For survivors living in an age when society has grown numb to a seemingly endless loop of mass shootings, the holiday season can feel particularly painful.

Maria Wright poses with her son, Jerry, at a wedding in 2015.

Times of intense triggers about the loss of a loved one are more likely to happen around anniversary times, when another shooting happens, and during the holidays, said Robin Gurwitch, a professor and psychologist at Duke University Medical Center.

During those times, some survivors turn to faith. Sharon Risher lost her mother, two cousins and a childhood friend in 2015 when a white supremacist killed nine people at a bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.



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