TODAY   |  September 18, 2013

Navy Yard victim’s family: He ‘embraced life’

Families of the Washington Navy Yard shooting victims spoke to TODAY’s Natalie Morales about their lost loved ones and the struggle to come to grips with their new reality.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we want to begin this half hour with the families grappling with sudden and devastating loss. 12 families lost loved ones during is shooting at the washington navy yard . natalie sat down with the family of sylvia frazier.

>> that's right. i had a chance to sit down with the lovely family. three of the six siblings of sylvia frazier. one of 12 families now dealing with incredible heart break .

>> how are you holding up? ?

>> i don't think i am.

>> reporter: we spoke with three of sylvia 's six siblings still shocked by the news that sylvia is never coming home.

>> she always had a nice word to say no matter what anyone else said.

>> reporter: they described the heart break of the last 48 hours .

>> we felt like she died alone. she didn't have her family around her. as her big brother , i wasn't there to protect her.

>> reporter: sylvia worked for the government since the age of 16 and never married. to her siblings, she was selfless almost to a fault.

>> she denied herself everything. no matter what she did, it was always about the next person.

>> but i think that's, in a way, a gift. she saw herself as giving herself away.

>> reporter: sylvia was dedicated to her church and it's the family's faith that holds them together now.

>> we continue to pray for everybody. it wasn't about our sister. when we prayed, we prayed for everybody.

>> reporter: sylvia 's family, one of 12 holding up as best z they can.

>> john johnson , his four daughters smiling through their tears.

>> dad was a larger than life person. he loved everybody. embraced life.

>> michael arnold, at 59, he was a pilot building his own airplane.

>> he was just a good, good man. i think that's one of the best things you can say about anyone.

>> martin bodrog was a graduate active in his church. arthur daniels was 51 and grandfather of nine. kathleen gaarde was months from retirement.

>> she was my partner. that's all. that's a hole that will never be filled.

>> mary knight, frank kohler and kenneth procter, each leave beg hind two children. gerald read was a retired lieutenant colonel and richard ridgell had three daughter. he joked he joined social media to get to know them better. 12 families trying to make sense of a senseless tragedy and asking themselves what if.

>> it's a tragedy. he didn't know sylvia . if he had talked to him that morning she would have been his greatest ally. she would have listened. he never gave her the opportunity.

>> also among the victims are three people that were shot but survived. one of them, a woman shot in the head and the hand has been released from the hospital. good news story there.

>> it's always impossible to lose someone you love but how do you ever get your arms around this idea that your loved one goes off to work and does nothing wrong and is taken from you in an act like this. it's impossible to explain.

>> the family members said the hole in their heart and to know that they feel she died alone.

>> going to work at a place that i think they probably thought was one of the safest places you could work, a military installation in the heart of the nation's capitol.