Three days after Luc-John Pentz went missing, his sister Adriana Pentz and her family filed a missing persons report. Two days later, Luc’s body was discovered in the woods near his home. He had died by gun suicide on May 23, 2017.
“At the time, I remember feeling numb from my pain, and oblivious to the world around me as I was consumed by sadness from the loss of my brother,” Adriana said. “I was completely lost.”
Luc and Adriana were close. They were passionate about the same things—excelling in sports, being with family, and “finding the things in life that would make them come alive.” The shared experience of their upbringing in a single-parent household with a mother who struggled with alcohol addiction created a tight bond between the two.
“One of my favorite memories of my brother Luc was when he came to the hospital for the delivery of my first child, my daughter Annika,” Adriana shared. “He came dressed in a suit and arrived early because he was so eager to meet her… In the first few weeks and months of my daughter’s life, Luc was so helpful in caring for Annika and supporting me as I adjusted to motherhood.”
A few weeks after Luc’s death, Adriana was walking through a farmers market in her town of Sleepy Hollow, NY when she met a few local volunteers with Moms Demand Action.
“When I encountered the Moms Demand Action table, it felt like a sign—that there was a way to start seeking answers to my questions,” Adriana expressed. “There was a literal action I could take to heal my pain.”
After that day at the farmers market, Adriana joined her local Moms Demand Action group and began her own healing journey by sharing her story. Through her local group, she began to speak publicly about the loss of her brother. But it wasn’t until she discovered the Everytown Survivor Network Fellowship Program that she was able to harness the full power of sharing her story.
“In 2019 she participated in our National Gun Violence Survivors Week event and told her story. I was so impressed with her poise, her powerful words, innate sensitivity, and intelligence,” Katherine Schowalter, the Local Group Lead for the Moms Demand Action group in Westchester, NY, said. “She has been so helpful in guiding us about our work with survivors.”
The Everytown Survivor Network has helped her work through her grief by encouraging her and giving her the tools she needed to share her story. At first, the stigma of losing her brother to gun suicide made her feel like her loss was different than those whose loved ones were killed by city gun violence or mass shootings. Over time, she began to understand that their grief is the same—regardless of the form of gun violence by which their loved ones were taken.
“Losing a loved one to gun violence is such a broad umbrella. It’s impacted so many people’s lives and yet the stories you hear, and the actual specific tragedy that each individual has gone through, is so personal,” Adriana said. “When I learn about other people’s stories, I’m grateful to be around individuals that can relate to so much of what I’ve been through.”
Adriana remains encouraged by meeting other survivors and seeing their perseverance. Learning to live with the loss of her brother has been difficult, but the support of those in the Everytown Survivor Network keeps her going.
“The Everytown Survivor Network offers me the trust and faith I need in some of the hardest moments,” Adriana expressed. “When I feel weak or stuck, I rely on the strength I witness in others that are involved in the Survivor Network. I watch them carry on, lead, advocate, and love and I am reminded that I can do the same.”
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