Support Group

A different kind of support

Providing unique peer support to homicide victims in a group format.

When someone you love dies, it is a devastating experience, no matter what the cause of death. Those who have lost a loved one to homicide realize quickly that the only people truly capable of understanding are the ones who have been through it themselves.

Victims of a crime are impacted resulting in the shattering of three assumptions; the belief of personal invulnerability, the view of self as positive and oneself functioning in a healthy manner, and the perception of the world as meaningful and the community as a safe place. Although dealing and managing a death is always difficult, the emotional impact is compounded due to the deliberate and often violent nature of homicide.

Having to deal with the police investigation, media, the courts, corrections, and various other organizations often tends to re-victimize the families of homicide victims. Subsequently, unique and specialized services to support these families are required.

Peer support is based on supportive relationships between people who have lived experience in common. The commonality is based, not on the specific factual events, but rather the struggle and emotional pain that accompany the feelings of loss and consequent involvement with the criminal justice system. Peer support group formats are valued for their authenticity because participants can relate to the challenges and recovery.

Our support group

The primary goal of our support group is to offer support to lessen the suffering and trauma of family members following the violent death of a loved one. Lead by a professional facilitator, the meetings provide a safe, comfortable, and compassionate environment for sharing experiences and offering support.

Support group meetings are not a bereavement (loss and grief) or therapy group. Additionally, the meetings are not a victim advocacy group that lobbies for victim rights or justice reform. Utilizing a mental health facilitator provides those group members, whose needs exceed the scope of this group, an opportunity for referrals to additional community resources (programs and services).

What you can expect

Support group membership is based on supportive relationships between people who have a lived experience in common. The discussions and conversation will be on the ‘here and now’ rather than a set agenda of topics, which presents group members with the ability to provide emotional and practical support to others who share this common experience.

The discussion and conversations will focus on what is presented by group members, which is holistic in nature addressing the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of the participants.

CHSS has engaged in the services of Dr. Scott McLean, a mental health practitioner, to screen and accept membership; facilitate and guide the discussion within the group meetings; and provide appropriate information and referrals to community resources.

Dr. McLean’s professional background in the area of criminal justice will ensure accurate and factual information about the criminal justice process. In his role as the support group facilitator, he will also arrange occasional guest speakers on specific topics that are viewed as valuable from the group participants’ perspective. These guest speakers will usually participate for half of a group meeting.

The support group resource is an open group offered, free of charge, to family members 18 years of age and older, regardless of the status of their criminal case.

Support Group Values

  • Provide a safe and welcoming environment.
  • Offer confidentiality (what is shared with the group stays within the group).
  • Develop a shared responsibility for making the group functional.
  • Provide information about the criminal justice system.
  • Honour the right for experiences to be shared and expressed.
  • Honour the right for individual search for meaning.
  • Listening to others is also a constructive experience.
  • Acknowledge that loss and grief is an individual process.
  • Acknowledge that one’s spirituality and belief systems are to be respected.
For information about joining the Support Group