June 26, 2018

Went to Hen House and burst into tears at the cashier line when I saw a police flyer to, “Help Support the Families of the Fallen Deputies Who Died in the Line of Duty.” I support them and want those families to be supported, but I couldn’t help but think..where was my support from the police department after Brett killed himself? I was never looking for money. The support I needed was to have one of my late husband’s fellow officers come over to my house on their own without me having to beg that first year, tell me it wasn’t my fault, to tell me that they didn’t blame me, and to possibly share some good memories of my late husband…that’s all…I didn’t think I was expecting that much. Instead, my marriage was blamed in the official police report AND autopsy report for my late husband’s suicide. It was incredibly damaging, it added to my grief, and delayed my healing process. Not only did I blame myself for a long time, but I hated myself too. I reached out to his chief twice and have been ignored twice. I tried writing a letter and talking with him one on one…but it didn’t work. I understand that everyone grieves differently…believe me. Statistically for every suicide 26 people are affected..and that’s really a low estimate because I know a whole police department of 500 were affected along with family, friends, neighbors, and anyone else who came in contact with my late husband. But what about the other statistic? For every suicide, 6 people on average will have their lives transformed (NOT affected)…transformed because they were that intimately involved or close to the deceased. Those average 26 people who were affected don’t even come close to knowing the traumatic transformation we go through..not that their pain isn’t valid…but us transformed, go through something different. Even though Brett’s mom and stepfather don’t talk with me anymore I know that their lives have been transformed..like mine. It hurts because I love them and miss them because they were my parents too, once upon a time, but I respect their grieving process and choice not to have me in their life anymore..it’s what helps them and I don’t want to take that away from them. But what I don’t respect is when people get grief and stigma confused…and the police department carries stigma mixed in with their grief. It is easier to blame our marriage as the catalyst instead of looking into Brett’s condition. Some also see his death as a black mark against the department instead of an illness. The National Fraternal Order of Police agrees with me and that’s why they are starting an organization to help families and people like me after the suicide loss of an officer. Their behavior is unacceptable and I will continue to be an advocate for other loss survivors. Hate does not drive me anymore, speaking up for others and doing the right thing drives me now. Two years after Brett died one officer came over to my house without me having to beg…he gave me hope. I have not closed that door with the chief..I have hope that he will come around.

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