Story and photo by Debbi Casini Klein | Audio edited by Louis D’Aria
Lueana Coward has faced tragedies unfathomable to any parent, but she has channeled her pain into helping others in the same situation.
“The grief of losing a child, especially as a murder victim so full of life, and a few minutes later they are lifeless,” Lueana said. “That grief sticks with you always.”
Not only did Lueana, a mother of six, experience the grief of losing her oldest son Harry 13 years ago, her second son James died four years later. She received the terrible news again two years ago that her only surviving son Don was killed.
They were all murdered, all under the age of 20.
Lueana found strength through her spirituality and realized she needed to help other women who were going through the same loss. After the death of her second son, she formed a support group, RELIEF. It stands for Recognizing Every Lingering Inward Emotional Feeling.
“It’s a place where a person can best understand you because they went through the same thing” Lueana said. “It’s never over, but there are times and moments when things get stronger and things get weak, but that’s when we lean on one another.”
Valerie Dixon is a regular member of the RELIEF support group. Her only child was murdered 12 years ago.
“You’re going to have dark days,” she said. “Those moments where you don’t feel like you want to get up in the morning, and so the RELIEF group helps you with techniques on when that day comes, these are some things you can do.”