CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's been a long eight years for James McGill and his wife, Jackie. The couple lost their son, Ja'Ron when he was just 19. Gunned down less than a block from their home - his case is still unsolved.
"I won't say it gets easier but it becomes manageable," said his father, James McGill. "You manage it. Because death of a child is something you never get over. We pick up the pieces, we take one day at a time and we go on with life."
One way they've been able to do that is through the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department's Homicide Support Group. Formed shortly after Ja'Ron's murder- CMPD embarked on a unique mission: to provide support by bringing families together in a safe space where they can lean one another.
"No one knows what you've going through unless you've been there before," pointed out McGill.
During their monthly meetings, they also have access to homicide detectives and the D-A's office. And, when the unimaginable happens, they go to homicide scenes alongside investigators. It's there McGill believes they do their most important work: supporting families during their most vulnerable moments.
"In whatever we can," he said. And sometimes, it's just there to hold their hand."
McGill also said they act as a mediator of sorts between detectives and victims' families.
"The family does not understand what's going on; the detectives are trying to do their jobs," he said. "So our job is to keep the families as calm as possible. Let them know what's going on because we've been through it."
Elaine Price, another member of the Homicide Support Group, told me going to a homicide scene is a step she's not ready to make just yet. She's been attending meetings since 2013 - when she lost her son, James Price II, to a violent stabbing.
"You need somewhere to go and talk about it and vent," she said. "You need people that's going to listen."
Price calls it a safe haven, free from judgement and any expectation of when you should move on.
"Friends and other people - they don't quite understand," she said. "They feel like we should get over it. If it's 10 years, we should get over it. If it's 2 weeks, you should get over it. You can't get over it. It doesn't work like that."
Still, even as they work through their grief - the group is troubled by the number of homicides the city has seen this year.
"We say numbers but this is more than a number," McGill said. "These are lives we're talking about. That's greater than numbers, somebody's life."
Lives that Price believes will continue to be lost - unless the community comes together.
"We as a community we need to start respecting each other more," she said. "Sticking together - because it's not going to stop if we don't stop it. It starts with us."