“I just want them to know, there’s nothing they could have done to keep this from happening.Try not to feel guilty about that.”
That’s Rev. Anthony Thompson’s message to the people who lost family and friends in the Orlando shooting, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Thompson speaks from painful experience: His wife Myra was one of nine people killed when a gunman opened fire during Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., last year. She was 59.
With 49 people killed by a gunman police identified as Omar Mateen, even more injured and several still clinging to life, TIME spoke to families who lost loved ones in the 2015 Charleston shooting and the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, which saw 20 children and six adults adults killed.
“I will never say I know what you’re going through,” said Mark Barden who lost his 7-year-old son in the Connecticut school shooting. “I will tell them that I have a sense of what that pain feels like, I’m hurting with you.”
Watch these messages and more in the video above.