“Everyone grieves in different ways.  For some, it could take longer and shorter.  I do know it never disappears.  An ember still smolders inside me.  Most days, I don’t notice it, but, out of the blue, it’ll flare to life.”

-Maria Snyder

This program is work; it’s not easy to think and talk about the topics discussed.  The focused sessions walked me through my grief, taught me about how I felt, allowed me to reflect and love the individuals taken rather than only the tragic circumstances, and guided me to form some sort perspective.  I was scared and ashamed to share my experience of loss with others. But the real benefit of the program for me was the structured interaction with others.  I benefited more than I could have ever hoped from speaking, grieving and learning from others who have suffered a similar traumatic loss of having someone they love taken from them.  There is a bond of broken hearts formed with everyone based on a personal understanding of a deep and unbearable pain;  it’s a level of understanding and compassion I could have not experienced elsewhere. Amanda

My handsome son Gregory Quesnelle (aged 32) was murdered on May 13, 2014. I was unprepared as you can imagine for anything as horrific and heartbreaking as being told my son was dead by the hands of another.  That’s when I became a “Homicide Survivor”.  I was shell shocked and totally out of my mind with grief. I thought I was going crazy with all that was going on and  I just totally wanted to curl up in a ball and die.  I was dead inside, the old Donna was gone, I did not who or what my purpose was any longer, I did not know how to function,  I lost some friends and family like I had a disease, I thought this was the end of me and I wanted it to be.  Then suddenly I had a resource that I grasped onto with all my heart and soul and that was Lean on Me (now the Healing Tree). My first night was the scariest and I wanted to run and hide and even told  myself that this program was not for me! I had decided that I would not go back the next week…. but I did go back for my son and especially for me. The program was a life saver, it allowed me to share my grief, my rage, my fears, my many tears and gave me the “tools” to survive, it taught me that I could go on and take what was tragic and turn it around to honor my son.  In the group I was  surrounded by people that had lost a loved one to murder and were just as fragile as I was, but we journeyed on together and now I have friendships that I will cherish forever, because these people get it! I can be real with them and they understand like no one else ever could. They accepted me with my flaws and understood when I was having  a really bad day. They were there (and still are) to give encouragement and hugs when needed and I’m forever grateful for this group! My grief and longing for my son will never end, but I’ve learned I can go on and survive and be the voice of my son who lives on in me.

Donna Evans