A Cape Breton woman who died in her home last week is being remembered by friends as vibrant and full of life.

Sarabeth Forbes, 33, was found dead in her Gardiner Mines, N.S. home on April 18 shortly before 12 p.m. Richard MacNeil – Forbes’ common-law partner and father of her nine-year-old son, Devon – has been charged with first-degree murder in her death.

“I couldn't believe it,” said friend Terri Spooney. “Even now, to wrap your head around it, I think it's still kind of unbelievable.”

The Crown says it is not able to disclose the cause of death, adding police are continuing their investigation.

In proceeding with a first-degree murder charge, the Crown is alleging there was some level of premeditation. A conviction on such a charge comes with an automatic sentence of 25 years.

Terri Spooney and Valerie Youden worked with Forbes at a seniors’ home in Sydney. Forbes also worked as a teacher’s aide with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.

Youden says many of her coworkers are saddened to hear of Forbes’ passing.

“We are all walking around trying to get our jobs done and trying to focus on our daily tasks, but you walk by and something reminds you of Sara or you think back to when you were talking to her in a certain part of the building. It's hard,” said Youden.

It will also be hard for Devon, who is now without a mother and father.

“Heartbroken. He lost two parents. He now has no parents and it's devastating. Our heart pours out for him,” said Spooney.

That loss has touched many, with more than $5,500 raised through a GoFundMe campaign setup by Spooney to help with Devon's immediate and future needs.

“I think it hit home for a lot of people,” Spooney said. “You often hear of that, but when it's actually someone you know and somebody you work with, it's hard and it makes everybody come together.”

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced. Richard MacNeil is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.