Not many people can imagine the grief of losing a loved one to murder.
"They call it 'complicated grief' that's involved with a homicide due to the tragic and often violent or sudden nature of the loss," said Jessica Lowe, the program manager with B.C. Bereavement Helpline, which facilitates the Homicide Grief Support Group.
"I've lost a sister to homicide," said Lowe.
Organizers of the support group came up with the idea in 2011 when they noticed a gap in support for a specific type of grief.
"I joined a similar support group before I started working here, and I felt that after all those years I finally found a group of people who could relate to what I've been through," said Lowe.
'It's an immediate bond'
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team supports the initiative because officers see the trauma first-hand on the front lines.
"When we knock on the door at 3 a.m. to deliver that difficult news, it's an immediate bond," said Cpl. Frank Jang. "That relationship is formed instantly with the families of victims of homicide."
He recalled a number of phone conversations he's had with families years after their loved ones died.
"They tell me over the phone, 'Frank, it seems like just yesterday that our son was taken from us.' Many of these families are going through depression, so it's still raw for them."
Jang said a common thread draws together those affected by tragic circumstances, highlighting the need for resources to help them cope.
"It's an honour for us at IHIT to help get the word out to provide this crucial support to these families."
The next Homicide Grief Support Group starts in April and continues for eight weeks.