People from all across the country are mourning the deaths of three RCMP officers killed last week in Moncton, N.B., but experts say it is just the beginning of a healing process that could take a while, “perhaps a lifetime.”

Residents were left locked in their homes for more than 30 hours last week as police conducted a manhunt for 24-year-old suspect Justin Bourque, who was wanted in connection to a shooting that left three RCMP officers dead and two injured.

The incident left many residents shaken and visibly upset. Flowers piled up in front of the local RCMP office and people of all ages were going up to members of the police force, thanking them for their service. The funeral service, held Tuesday at the Coliseum in Moncton, has attracted hundreds of officers and distinguished guests, but it is the local businesses and churches who are offering support to the community as it tries to work its way through the tragedy.

Martin Kreplin, a minister for the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, which is located just blocks from where the shooting occurred, held a debriefing Saturday evening and invited members of the community to come, mingle and share their stories.

Kreplin and his wife, Eleanor, are also trained in critical incident stress management and has been leading counselling groups out of his church since the shooting. The sessions run through the signs and indicators of stress and suggested coping mechanisms.

“We were able to put into the community’s hands some information on what they can expect … and how they are going to respond -- whether mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually,” Kreplin told CTV’s Canada AM.

The goal of Kreplin’s sessions is to warn people of what they may experience once they have had time to digest the incident, and how to deal with the pain they may feel. Despite the fact that he is holding the meetings in his church, he says he isn’t worried about religious affiliations, because tragedy transcends faith.

“People’s needs are common,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what their faith background is or whether they claim to have no faith background at all.”

Forgiveness has been a central point in Kreplin’s sermons since the shooting. Bitterness, he says, doesn’t do anything to inflict pain on the perpetrator. Rather, it will only hurt the people of the community trying to heal.

But of course Kreplin realizes that it may take a while before residents are willing to make that leap and show the suspected shooter forgiveness or compassion.

“People are all over the map on where they are in terms of being prepared to move toward forgiveness,” he said. “Frankly, some people are just so deeply hurt that they can’t even entertain the possibility of forgiveness. But we do need to move toward that direction.”

Dawn DeCunha, a psychologist specializing in trauma, says that the proceedings and the funeral service will probably not have any healing effect for those in mourning. Most will not process the proceedings, and will be participating on auto-pilot.

“Acknowledgement is important, but probably at this time they are quite numb,” she said. “It’s going to take a long time to heal, perhaps a lifetime, and the healing happens well after the service ends.”

A number of locations, including St. Andrew’s Church, were open to the public during the funeral procession and the service at the Coliseum, providing the community members who are unable to attend the funeral with a place to gather and mourn.

The U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, who has witnessed a number of tragic shootings such as this one, said he believes Moncton will return to normalcy. Heyman previously worked in Chicago, considered one of the most deadly cities in the U.S.

He offered condolences for the loss all residents are experiencing. “Time will heal the wounds here, but we will never forget.”