Families, Friends Affected by Homicide Have Support Group Meets Monthly to Share Stories, Emotions, Pain

By Lind, Treva | The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), November 23, 2017 | Go to article overview

Families, Friends Affected by Homicide Have Support Group Meets Monthly to Share Stories, Emotions, Pain


Lind, Treva, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


After the 1991 murder of her son in Spokane Valley, Jewel Zeihen experienced a range of emotions she still can't fully describe.

But eventually she found a way to talk about those feelings as part of a membership few can relate to: the Homicide Survivor Support Group in Spokane.

The group started in the 1990s and continued until 2004, when it disbanded for 10 years until being reactivated three years ago. Open to anyone who has lost a loved one to death by violence, the monthly meetings are held at the Shadle Park Library.

Zeihen, who attended for several years during the 1990s, has kept in touch with group members since then, although she currently doesn't go to meetings because of the distance for her to travel.

"My prayer is that this would never happen to anyone else," said Zeihen, who lives north of Spokane.

She describes the survivor group's benefits as those of friendship and support. People who attend are told they don't have to talk and can just sit and listen. Typically after a time, members feel comfortable enough to share.

"It was probably four or five years I couldn't talk about it much at all," Zeihen added. "I thought I was doing OK, but I really wasn't, looking back."

Zeihen and her family endured eight years before answers came about her 40-year-old son's homicide. She said it helped to share with support group members who could empathize with her.

"It was being able to talk to and listen to people who had gone through something similar," she said. "There had been accusations and lies told, which doesn't help one bit. I could talk about it."

"Unless people have gone through this, they don't understand. They think they do, but they don't."

The group's current facilitator, Linda Carter, formerly worked as director of the Victim/Witness Unit of the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. The unit assists victims and witnesses through the criminal justice process, and Carter helped lead the homicide support group starting around 1995.

In 2004, Carter left the unit director work to become juvenile clerk with the Superior Court Clerk's Office. Around that time, the support group ceased its meetings. Carter, who retired in 2009, was asked in 2014 by former support group members to resume facilitating regular meetings. …

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