Proposed memorial garden would honor Roanoke homicide victims and provide a place of peace for families | Local News

Ryan Reilly described it as like ripples unfurling across water. The edges expand, flow, stretching outward on and on.

Grief is like that, he said. It shifts over time, changes, affecting more than you ever imagined.

“As it gets further and further out, it seemingly impacts people in all kinds of different ways,” he said.

“Unless you’ve been through something like it, I don’t know that anyone can really, truly understand what victims’ families go through,” he said. “But I do think that ripple effect and how it touches different people and how they can deal with it has a long-lasting effect, on a community as a whole.”

Reilly and his family found themselves plunged into grief in March when his cousin, Cassie Pizzi, 33, was killed in what would be the city’s fourth homicide case of the year.

Her death remains under investigation. Reilly, born in Roanoke but now living in Tennessee, described her loss as painfully tragic for those she left behind.

“It’s unfathomable,” he said in an interview. “Homicide takes a piece of people away when they lose that loved one.”

Reilly’s path through grief led him to a new idea, one that’s still taking shape but which he hopes can be a source of healing for families and the Star City itself.

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