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Philanthropy Thought Leadership

From pain to passion: Helping families heal after gun violence

By Aaliyah Strong, founder, Tyme to Thrive

Tyme to Thrive Beyond Grief was founded in April of this year, after I witnessed the murder of my fiancé, Tyshon Ross on February 2. Tyshon and I worked together, and I never imagined our typical commute to work would’ve been our last. Tyshon was a security guard who was murdered simply for not allowing a patron into the establishment with contraband.

I held onto him as he struggled to catch his breath, and the minutes passed like hours. I spent four tiresome hours at Grady Memorial Hospital, only to hear the words every family member dreads: “Unfortunately, we were unable to save him.” I walked out of the hospital with a body full of heartache, anger, grief, frustration, confusion, and fear.

As the weeks passed, my pain birthed passion. I knew in my darkest moments, I never wanted any other family to go through the experience of losing someone so suddenly and so tragically. My pain and anger inspired me to create a nonprofit, Tyme to Thrive Beyond Grief.

In the immediate aftermath of gun homicide, survivors face not only grief but often financial burdens, challenges accessing affordable therapy, and finding bereavement support. Here in Atlanta, there are very few resources for survivors of gun violence, so I have decided to become that resource.

I used what I was experiencing to guide my knowledge of how to support others in similar situations. Tyshon and I were not married yet, and because of that, I was unable to receive any type of support from the government funded agencies. As a mother, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place: How will I pay for his funeral? How will I be able to pay rent on my own? Where can I find an affordable therapist? What should I do with his belongings?

I faced every barrier imaginable. I was on the verge of eviction from February through May. After depleting my savings, covering funeral expenses and memorial events, I had nothing. Tyshon did not have life insurance at the time of his death, and unfortunately that left an enormous burden on our family. Nonetheless, I had no outlet for my grief; I could not afford therapy at the time. I continued to search for resources, and I began sharing Tyshon’s story so the he would never be forgotten. I began speaking to media outlets, going door-to-door, and everything in between.

I now stand proudly here today as the founder of Tyme to Thrive Beyond Grief. The mission of my organization is to increase proactive and preventative measures against gun violence within our interconnected communities. Thanks to support from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and private donations, we are able to continue promoting justice for victims and survivors of gun violence in hopes of transforming pain into power. Grief is a unique journey, and no grief experience is identical. Tyme to Thrive Beyond Grief creates a safe space that fosters healing, change, and transformation. For more information about how you can support our mission, please email us at tymetothrive@yahoo.com. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

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