INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- For families dealing with the grief of losing a loved one to homicide, the process of the investigation and court proceedings can be almost as painful as their loss.
"Our strengths are in educating people how to empower themselves and be able to get through the issues of grief through being able to handle some of the difficulties," said Michelle Metje, who started the grief group Corey’s Network after her son Corey Laykovich was murdered in 2013.
Metje has funneled her grief and knowledge into the support group and is now hosting the Survivors Workshop. It's a 10-week seminar series that helps families navigate through the investigation, the court system, media inquiries and everything else that loved ones of homicide victims are unequipped to handle in the midst of their grief.
"We sign up to be their parent for their whole life, for our whole lives,” Metje said. “So I am going to continue to say Corey’s name until the day I die.”
Darryl Allen Jr. had come home to Kansas City from Texas to spend Mother’s Day with his mom. He was outside of the Genesis Health Club at Ward Parkway Mall in May 2018 when he was shot and killed.
"I can’t even remember yesterday. It hasn't sunk in," said Allen’s mother, Carmen Allen.
On Monday, Allen attended the Survivors Workshop, which opened up her world to resources and education that she was unequipped to handle in the midst of her grief.
"Their workshops help me because you have actual live, real people that genuinely care,” Allen said. “I mean, when you have a prosecuting attorney or detective come sit with you and be honest with you and then when you hear other people's stories, I just hear so many similarities. I take that stuff home with me. It is almost like church. I am glad I went."
"You don't know how low you can get until your baby is taken away in such a horrific way," said Jackie Schroer, whose daughter Angels was found dead at 28 years old.
Police said it was suicide, but Schroer said it's clear her daughter was killed by someone else. The Survivor's Workshop has given her a direction to prove what she says was murder.
"Unfortunately, it is going to happen to another parent, and I would do anything for another parent not to have to go through this," Schroer said.
The next Survivors Workshop session begins Monday at 6 p.m. at the Church of the Four Corners in Independence. It's free and anyone is welcome. You don't need a reservation; you can just walk in. If you miss this week, don't worry. Anyone is welcome to join at any time.
To contact Corey’s Network, the hotline number is 816-834-9161.