Local crisis center helps families deal with loss during holiday season

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The holiday season can be difficult if you've lost a loved one to violence.

There have been 168 homicides in Memphis so far this year.

The Shelby County Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center offers free drop in holiday counseling for families of homicide victims. .

Related: 9th annual memorial honors homicide victims

Aqueelah Hyman-Matthews lost her 19-year-old Son Dominick Hull in June.

He was murdered in a triple shooting in Hickory Hill.

Hull was one of 11 kids and left his big family with a big hole this holiday season.

"He was the joy of the family, always smiling… we actually got Dominick cremated so some will go to the mantle and talk with him. Every morning I ask if they visited him, and they'll say they saw him in a dream, so they're trying to cope as best as they know how," said Matthews.

Recently, she found support at the crisis center.

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There she's surrounded by other homicide survivors like Tiffany Armstrong.

Armstrong now works at the center.

"Being that shoulder, just being that listening ear for them to vent, its just heartwarming and it helps me through my journey," said Armstrong.

During the holiday themed counseling sessions, families made journals, ornaments and even keepsake pillows with loves ones' pictures on them.

Matthews said she decorated a small Christmas tree in Dominick's honor.

"To help me cope because I'm used to buying all the kids gifts, I'm going to purchase a small gift and place it under the tree and let the kids unwrap it for him… He loves mustangs, so I'm going to get him a small toy car," said Matthews.

Wednesday was the final drop-in counseling session, but the center offers free counseling all year.

Starting in January, the center is offering group sessions for teens who are homicide survivors. 
For more information about the crisis center click here.