KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A few dozen families came together for one reason Wednesday night: To honor a loved one taken too soon by violence and honor their memories.

This was the first year Tami Oliver to placed an ornament on the Victims Remembrance Tree. Her daughter Jaelyn died six months ago after a drunk driver crashed into the car she was in.

“It is unbelievable. One second my mind is numb, the next second it’s racing. My heart is broken. It is so hard to sort through all of the memories and the emotions and the feelings,” Oliver said.

Oliver said this time of year is going to be tough for her. She planned for that, so she won’t even be in East Tennessee because it will be too hard. Placing her daughter’s ornaments on the tree was bittersweet. Like every other ornament, it shouldn’t be up there in the first place. But, she also thought about how much Jaelyn loved Christmas and how she wanted to honor that.

“So when we were little, Jaelyn had specific ornaments that she loved to hang and nobody else could hang those ornaments. So that popped into my mind,” Oliver said.

The main floor of the City-County Building was full of pain, heartbreak and loss as families placed ornaments on their tree and remembered the person that should be standing next to them.

Joan Berry, founder of H.O.P.E. for Victims, started this ceremony with the Victims Remembrance Tree several years ago, after her daughter, Johnia was killed in 2004. She uses this time as a way to remember, but to also gather others who know the same pain and fight for justice.

This year, Berry and District Attorney General Charme Allen focused on sharing legislation that could bring more pain to the families already suffering a tragic loss.

House Bill 1532, if passed, would change the life sentence essentially from 51 years to 25 years. Allen previously stated to WATE 6 On Your Side life sentences in Tennessee are only handed down in cases of first degree murder.

Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) was also there offering condolences to the families. He said the bill already passed the Senate, but probably wouldn’t have if any one of those lawmakers came to this event and saw the faces of the people that bill would impact.

He told the families to reach out to the house subcommittee, where the bill will go first, and email all those legislators so the bill dies in the subcommittee.

2021 was one of the deadliest years in Knoxville when it comes to gun violence.

There were just as many new faces as the families who have placed an ornament on the tree before. But, this ceremony was for anyone who lost family to any type of violence. By the end of the night, the tree unfortunately was nearly full of ornaments.

Although the night wasn’t easy for those families, they were truly grateful they had a place to come together, mourn with each other, pray for each another and remember their loved ones.