After a 2020 spike in homicides that killed many young people, grieving mothers in the Denver metro area have found support in one another by forming a group called A Mother’s Love.
“It’s a personal healing for me to help other moms heal,” said Angel Shabazz, the group’s founder.
Just three days after three of his friends lost their children to gun violence on the same day, Shabazz’s son Davarie Armstrong was fatally shot at a high school party on July 11, 2020.
“Nobody was there to help me,” Shabazz said. “They couldn’t be.”
She said she had held funerals for family members before, but doing one for her own child was different. She said it was difficult to find the support she needed from people who had no idea what she was going through.
She decided to start the group to give grieving mothers the support she couldn’t find when she was grieving.
“If I have to go through this worst part of my life, why not do it together?” Shabazz said.
Lillian Paige’s 20-year-old daughter Kalani Hayter was found dead in a stolen truck the same day two other sons of the band members – Moses Chaney-Harris, 15, and Xzavier Collier, 14 – were killed . shot in an apartment. All three murders remain unsolved.
Paige was able to get through the early days of grieving with the help of the group.
“I had support from other mothers who were going through much the same thing I was at the time,” Paige said. “They try to keep our minds off of reality for a second and help us relax.”
Paige said she was starting to come to terms with the loss of her daughter and didn’t need to rely on the group as much. Now she wants answers and justice.
“When second year comes around, it’s a reality that they really don’t come back,” she said. “I’m starting to get to the point where I’m at peace with it.”
Although some members are advancing, the group is growing. Shabazz said the group started with four but now has 20 members. Shabazz is happy to invite the mothers to the group, but she is saddened by the circumstances.
The group caters primarily, but not exclusively, to mothers of victims of gun violence.
“No matter how it happened, it’s still losing a child,” she said. “When you talk to a mom who has lost a child, there is no difference.”
Now that the second anniversary of Armstrong’s death is approaching, Shabazz is hosting a fundraising football tournament in his son’s name for $17,000 to represent his age when he was taken from him. There is also a 5k run in his name organized by his youth camp, Youth Life Christian Camp.
“What I do gives me the chance to say her name every day,” Shabazz said. “I want to give it to a young man who has the determination and everything to match my son.”