On June 30, 2011, Macon, Georgia police found part of law school graduate Lauren Giddings' body in a trash can outside her downtown Macon apartment. Her neighbor is now accused of killing her. Giddings is from Maryland.
(WMAZ) -- Monday marks one year since the last time 27-year-old Lauren Giddings was seen alive.
The dismembered body of the recent Mercer Law School graduate was found five days later, on June 30, 2011, outside her Georgia Ave. apartment.
: The Lauren Giddings Case
One year later, it's a memory the Giddings' holds dear to their hearts, a family photo as their daughter Lauren gradated from law school just one month before she was killed.
"I always say we're taking it day by day or minute by minute sometimes, but hopefully you just get through each day the best you can and pray to God that he helps you through it," said her sister Kaitlyn Wheeler, by phone.
She says their family follows the motto that you never truly get over something like this, but it's just something they'll have to work through, together.
For each person who knew Lauren, that brings its own battles.
"If you go from talking to someone and having someone there for you all the time, to them being gone. It's not just that someone died it's that you lost that person to yourself," said Kaitlyn.
"I lost not only my sister, but my parents' daughter. I lost a best friend and my maid of honor and the aunt to my children."
Kaitlyn calls last summer the worst time of their family's lives, but says they know Lauren would not want them to dwell on the tragedy.
"It's not something you just stop thinking about after a month or a year or two years. It might not cross your mind every minute or every second anymore, but it's just something you have to get by with daily and it wasn't like she died in an accidental car accident or like someone deliberately did this to her, so for that to destroy your faith in humanity takes time to trust yourself."
Adjusting to life without Lauren also continues to be a struggle for her boyfriend, David Vandiver.
"It's been hell. Nothing's really changed. Time, as some people say, heals all wounds. If it does, it hasn't even begun yet. It's just been a mix of heartache and anger," said Vandiver.
He says he gets by by remembering the good times spent together.
And he has one last message for the woman he says he was about to propose to: "Just that I love and miss her very much."
When asked if it will ever get easier, Vandiver said, "I don't know. It hasn't yet."
David also shared one of his favorite memories with Lauren. He said they were tailgating and everyone knew there was one broken chair out in the mix.
David said he took a chance and sat in it, but Lauren didn't know it was the broken one, so when she came to sit in his lap, they both tumbled over.
He said they both laughed, even as friends continued to pick on the pair.
Her sister said when the family gets together they still tell stories about things that happened or memories from the last time they were all together, just like if Lauren was with them.
Kaitlyn even told us when she goes shopping she may see something and think, "Wow that looks just like Lauren," and she'll catch herself picking up the phone to try to call and tell her.
Kaitlyn also says they feel like the judicial process is moving slowly, but they do want to make sure everything is done right.
She told us they have complete faith in the judicial system, but she said if that fails she knows justice will be served when the person who killed her sister meets their maker.
Mercer Law School staff and classmates plan to honor Lauren later this summer by hosting an activity they say she would have loved to be a part of.
Professor Sara Gerwig-Moore is helping to organize the event.
She says Lauren loved Second Sundays where concerts are held in the park, so they decided to hold a similar event to celebrate her life.
Washington Park will come alive with music on Aug. 25. It starts at 6:30 and is free to attend.
Also that day, the graduates of 2011 plan to dedicate a sign to their classmate
No time has been set for the ceremony.