When Lisa Good was 17 years old, her cousin John Joseph Harrington was murdered in Shreveport, La. She was an only child and her 19-year-old cousin was like a brother to her.
At times, her grief felt insurmountable and she was suicidal for a significant amount of time, she says.
“I was devastated and alone in my grief,” she recalls, “and feeling like it should have been me. I thought I was the bad kid in the family.”
Now 54, Good says sharing her journey has helped her heal — and she hopes it will help others heal, too.
Last month, six gun-violence survivors from around the country gathered together for a roundtable discussion in New York City to talk about the shootings that forever altered their world and made them part of a club that no one wants to join.
“It’s so important to hear these stories because for every one of them, for every statistic, that’s a family shattered,” says Sara Macaluso, whose father died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1992.
PEOPLE partnered with the nonprofit advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety for the roundtable, moderated by actress and advocate Julianne Moore, ahead of National Gun Violence Survivors Week, which began Saturday and continues for a week.
“I’m so incredibly moved by them and struck by their bravery,” Moore tells PEOPLE. “What’s so brave and so amazing about these activists and survivors is that they are willing to change the culture, to change legislation, to make sure it doesn’t happen to another individual.”
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The cycle of trauma leads to other forms of violence in unexpected ways, Good says, and it’s important to talk about it.
“We are a nation of survivors, and [I speak out] because I understand the need for healing that I didn’t get when my cousin was murdered,” she says. “We can’t ignore it.”