Families of homicide victims get support group

Alberta Justice has provided a one-year grant to a new support group for families of homicide victims.

Those left behind can share their pain and unique experience in a safe setting

Karen Venables speaks at the announcement of a homicide support group while Debbie Hogarth looks on. Both women lost their sons to homicide. (CBC)

Alberta Justice is providing a one-year grant to a new support group for families of homicide victims.  

The Calgary Homicide Support Society was established by two mothers who both had teenaged sons who were murdered.

"It would have maybe saved me those dark nights in my bedroom, trying to figure it out because I didn't know anybody. I thought I was the only one who'd lost a child," said Karen Venables.

Her son Devin was killed in 2002 after a single punch in an altercation he tried to walk away from.

Last year, Venables met Debbie Hogarth, whose son Joshua was stabbed to death. Venables says they connected instantly.

"It felt like I was meeting a friend even though we didn't know one another." said Venables."It came across very loud, very clear to your heart that she knows. She just knows."

Karen Venables and Debbie Hogarth join us to talk about a support group they have started to help families who have lost their children to homicide. 7:25

While families of homicide victims are offered grief counselling, they are known to experience a unique range of emotions and need different types of support when coping with the death of their loved one, or loved ones, according to Alberta Justice. 

The mothers realized the value for families to come together and share their experience, especially when it comes to attending traditional family events or marking holidays like Christmas or Mother's Day.

"When Karen and I first hugged I liken it to two broken hearts, we instantly connected because she got it," said Hogarth.

The Calgary Homicide Support Society will provide peer support open to all family members over 18. A forensic psychologist will offer mental and emotional support. Membership is free and the first meeting will be held in late June.