CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Denise Quarles used to lean on her mom for support, but since Myra Thompson's death at Mother Emanuel AME Church last June, Quarles has sought the backing of her family and God.
"I always knew about Him and prayed to Him, but some of the experiences I had, I know that I wouldn't be able to get through it without relying on my faith and knowing that He was with me the whole way," she said.
Thompson was one of nine people killed after being shot at the church. Since then, there have been many vigils and memorials in the victims' honor, including at Principle Gallery in downtown Charleston.
Nine artists from across the country have created portraits of the victims.
"This is showing the principle of, it doesn't matter what our backgrounds are, we all get together and support each other, especially in times of need," Quarles said. "I'm seeing that more than I ever had a chance to before."
Myra Thompson's husband, Anthony Thompson, said he is still processing the loss of his wife.
"We know everybody is trying to show their gratitude, but at the same time, it takes us back to that day," he said. "It's something that's constantly on our minds. So we really haven't grieved, but I do cry. I cry everyday."
Thompson said his healing process began during the first court hearing of the suspect, Dylann Roof, two days after the shooting. Thompson said he had no plans to go, but his children wanted to attend.
When the judge asked if his family had anything to say, Thompson said God spoke through him.
"I said, 'I have something to say.' I got up immediately, and my children looked at me like, 'Where are you going? I thought you said don't say anything?'" Thompson said. "[God] told me exactly what to say and while I was talking to Dylann, it was like I saw myself. It was like I wasn't even the one speaking."
Thompson then told Roof he and his family forgave him and also urged him to repent.
"I began to experience a peace immediately," Thompson said. "That's when I understood why I had to be there, because the peace was for me and my children, not so much for Dylann, but for Dylann to no longer be in our lives."
Since the shooting, Thompson has become involved in Gun Sense SC, which describes itself as a grassroots group working to close gaps in laws that allow guns to easily "fall into the wrong hands."