It’s a Choice

When tragedy strikes, we are forced to choose a path.

When my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016, each of us affected by it were forced to make a choice.

When the sun came up on May 19, 2016 and Davey was dead, I had a decision to make.  Was I going to choose a path of bitterness?  Would I be defined as a victim of what was done to me for the rest of my life?  Would my life get stuck on this event?

Or would I choose life?  Would I figure out how to move forward?  Would I deal with the tears and the grief and the hole in my life in light of the fact that I was still here.  I still have a purpose.

When tragedy strikes, we are forced to choose.  Each day we make a choice.  The good news is, if we make a wrong choice one day, we can change it the next.  We have this choice each day until our final breath.

My decision was very easy when I thought of what Davey would want me to do.  He loved life.  He loved people.  He loved God.  And he lived his life full speed ahead – every day.

There is no question about which choice would honor his legacy.  There is no doubt what he would say if we had the chance to ask.

He would say live life to its fullest.  Love people.  Love God.  Never stop growing and giving and having fun.  Live a life of no regrets.  Forgive and move on so you can avoid bitterness and a victim mentality.  Value integrity and honor.  Make your life count by caring for and helping others.

These are the choices that will honor Davey and honor what he lived and died for.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

I Don’t Know What to Say

It’s hard to know what to say to someone who has just lost someone they love. It is extremely hard to know what to say to someone who has just experienced a tragedy that has blown their lives apart.

I’ve lived through the heart-smashing, life-shattering tragedy when my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016. I’ve learned many things about grief and grieving people. I’ve been there and I’m still there.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here – everybody is different and reacts to situations according to their emotional personality. Before Davey’s death, I would have said I was a non-emotional person. Now I find that I am much more emotional with tears filling my eyes regularly when something touches the hurting pieces of my broken heart.

Last week I blogged about having to give a lot of grace to people around me right after Davey was killed, understanding that most people don’t know what to say to those who are left behind after tragedy strikes.  I was asked if I could share practical do’s and don’ts I’ve learned from my experience.  If you are also a survivor, your reaction and experience with these situations could be the opposite of mine. This is my perspective and I hope it helps someone out there understand what to say – and more importantly, what not to say – to people like me when we are grieving.

I have learned that we all process grief differently and at different speeds. The first time I see a person who has experienced loss, I don’t know where they are in this process so I usually say a very simple “I’m sorry” and include a good memory I have of the person who has passed. Then I stop talking.  After they reply, I will say something encouraging – for me, this is usually that I’m praying for them and their family.

Some of the things people said to me right after Davey’s death that hurt were –

“He’s in a better place”. I’m a Christ-follower and I believe this is true but I wasn’t ready to hear it right away. God and I had to do a couple of rounds on this one before I got there. This statement is now one of those that I wait to see if the person grieving says it before will I talk about it.  

Other comments that are in the same category are – “God wanted him in heaven”, ” He’s out of this mess”, “The good die young” . Our Blue family has a phrase I heard quite a bit – “If not Dave, then who?” That was painful to hear at first as well because my automatic answer was, “why did it have to be anybody?” I didn’t find any of these helpful until later when I had more time to process the pain and the loss.

“Time heals all wounds” is inaccurate and not helpful. It makes it sound like this will all ‘heal’ and go away. It doesn’t go away. I’ve got a hole in my heart that isn’t going to disappear this side of heaven. I’ve gradually gotten more used to Davey not being here but the hole is still there.

Some people were curious and immediately started asking questions and talking about details of Davey’s death. This was painful to me to the point that I just started ignoring their questions. I didn’t want to talk about it, I didn’t know how I felt about it yet, and I didn’t appreciate the curiosity. It felt intrusive.

This is a good general rule – let the grieving person guide the conversation.  What are they comfortable talking about? I have found that if the loss just happened, the less I say, the better.   And, please, if you know me and have said any of these things to me, don’t worry about it.  We’ve moved on.  It’s hard to know what to say.  We’re all learning.

One thing I found helpful right away and it continues to comfort me is when someone tells me they are praying for us. Love this! Davey’s death caused a tsunami of pain and loss to crash over our lives leaving far-reaching ripples even now – 4 1/2 years later. Knowing people from all over are reaching up to God asking for his care and intervention for us is awesome.

In the first week after Davey’s death, hundreds of people said to me, “Please let me know if I can do anything”.   I’m the type of person who will ask for help and I found out that some people really meant what they said and went way above and beyond when I asked them to do something for us. Other people were not available to help when I asked so they shouldn’t have said they would – it was just one more thing that hurt.

Many friends provided food for us which was extremely helpful since family and close friends flew in and life was super hectic. Our church family set up a food train for husband and me and our framily (family and friends who are family) set up a food train for our daughter-in-law. We shared all the food and it was extremely helpful since we didn’t have time or energy to shop or cook.

We realized one of the difficult things about receiving food through a food train after a big tragedy is the fact that we just couldn’t talk to all of these people who were delivering food. We were just too emotionally drained. So we set up a cooler outside our door with a Thank You note on it and the food was left inside the cooler. If a friend was dropping off food, they would text us to say the food was there so we could go out and say hi – or not – depending on how we were feeling.

I also learned if you want to do something, then do it. You don’t have to ask in order to do something that is helpful. A group from one of the places we worked drop off laundry baskets full of paper supplies like paper plates, tissues, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper. It was such a great idea! They didn’t ask – they just did it. This was extremely useful with all the family and friends who were in and out of our house that first week.

I also received several personal bouquets of flowers at my home. I love flowers so having these extra bits of color and beauty around my house was helpful to me. It also reminded me how much people cared without having to try to talk to them through the swirling of grief in my brain.

Right after Davey was killed, I realize now that I was living in a fog, with a cloud of pain hanging over me.  Some of my conversations were erratic and I did some strange things.  Looking back, I am very grateful to all the people who gave me a lot of grace and love until I could start to process the loss and think more rationally.  So, while I said before that I had to give other’s grace for what they were saying to me, the people around me had to do the same for me.  Thank you.

The final words Davey said to all of us were “love you”.  These words were a gift that have guided those of us left behind during the fall-out of his death. These words changed my journey on this road of grief as I witnessed the truly magical power of love in the darkest time of my life. 

Thank you, Davey.  Miss you.

#8144loveyou

A Tough Crash Course

I’ve been taking a crash course on grief since May 18, 2016 when my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty.

I thought I had quite a bit of experience with grief since my father, mother, brother and grandparents have all passed away along with all of my aunts and uncles – all 30 of them.

None of that compares with Davey’s death.

Personally, my life blew up.  I totally understand why marriages fall apart when children die because each person in the marriage is affected differently and monumentally by the tragedy.  We can’t ‘be there’ for each other as much as we need because we’re each going through our own personal nightmare.  I give God all the credit for keeping my marriage safe as we worked our way through the first tough years after Davey’s death.  Yes, years.  Not weeks, not months… years.

After Davey was killed, of course our family, framily, friends and Davey’s friends and squad members were grieving with us.  But it took me awhile to realize that the whole city of Phoenix as well as our big Blue Family all across the country were also grieving with us.  This was much bigger than just us. 

When a young person dies, we lose their whole future.  Everything they were going to do and be is ripped away.  All of the hopes and dreams for them are gone…..in a moment.  We all lost Davey – every smile, every joke, every good time.   All gone.  We each felt it and I gradually started seeing the widespread fall-out from the bomb that had hit all of us – job changes, divorces and counselling sessions.

When a police officer is murdered, our whole city loses because this was one of the ‘good guys’ who are working hard to push back the crime and danger on our streets.  This was a person who was already sacrificing their time with their family and their safety to be a part of what’s right in our world.  And now their life has been permanently snatched away by evil.

And we each react differently to the loss.

I’ve learned to give people a lot of grace when they are grieving.  People say weird things and they can do very hurtful things when they are in a cloud of loss.  I had to give people a lot of grace when I was lost in the initial fog of Davey’s death because people around me would say unhelpful things and exhibit strange behaviors as they struggled to try to deal with their own grief while trying to support me in mine.  They were trying – they just weren’t always good at it.

I also learned that there are a lot of ways to effectively grieve.  Each of us has our own personality so we experience loss in our own way.  I can’t tell you how you should grieve or how long you should feel this way.  I can’t tell you that counselling is the answer for you – it’s not the answer for all of us.  There is no one-size-fits-all magic answer.  There are various ways of getting help that are good to try if you feel like you’re getting stuck in the pain.  Somehow, we all need to figure out how to move forward – because we are still here and have a purpose.

For me, the answer has been to stay as close to God as I possibly can.  He has been my Rock as the storm rages around me.  He has been my constant counsellor, comforter and guide down this difficult road.  This is a tough journey that will not end this side of heaven because Davey is gone,

and he’s not coming back.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

Feeling it……

left behind.

The list of things that I’ve done that I thought I would never do has grown very long since May 19, 2016.  A couple of years ago it felt very strange to be buying a plot in the cemetery next to my son. David Glasser was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 19, 2016.  Now that Davey had a plot, it felt right to have a spot next to him for my husband and my cremated remains when that day comes.

We also planted a tree next to our spot.  That first summer of visiting cemetery and cleaning Davey’s spot was brutal.  Hot and horrible.  I felt I really needed a tree out there to provide some shade.  So we bought some more plots and planted one.

And the tree died.  Why was I not surprised?  A dead tree fit right in with the pain and loss I was feeling.

The good news is that the second tree we planted is thriving and starting to provide some much needed shade.  I used to wonder why I felt such a strong need for a tree….until I saw the movie, “The Shack”.  Have you seen it?  Now I know why I wanted a tree.

Spoiler alert – in the movie, they planted the seed of a tree on top of his daughter’s grave.  When they watered it with the father’s tears, it miraculously immediately grew into a big, beautiful, green tree.

Awesome!  Life!  In a place where we remember those who have died.  I’m so glad we have a tree by our spot.

My husband and I have moved to Denver but we recently visited Phoenix and stopped by Davey’s spot to clean it.  He’s not there but it’s a great place for remembering.  While I cleaned, I prayed.  I prayed for our family, our extended ‘family’ which includes his squad and I pray for the families of the other fallen officers who are buried close to Davey.  There have been so many tears in this place.

Looking around the cemetery, I was reminded of all the people I love who are already in heaven.

I really miss my mom.  She was so much fun and such an amazing Christian woman!  My father was a good Christian man who died when I was 21 years-old so I never got to know him as an adult.  My stepfather was also a good man who married my mother on her 70th birthday.  He was a fantastic grandfather to my children.   My oldest brother was 13 years older than me and went to heaven a couple of years ago.  He was the one who walked me down the aisle.  They are all in heaven.

I have been blessed with a strong, Christian background so my grandparents are all in heaven along with a large number of my aunts, uncles and cousins.

And now my son.

He is there.  And there are times when I have an overwhelming feeling of being left behind.  Don’t worry.  There’s no need to call a hotline 🙂  I’ll be here until God decides differently.

But there are days when I am homesick.  Home is where my Father God is.  Home – where there are no viruses, disappointments or problems.  No grief.  No pain.  Home – the number of people I love who are already home is growing.

It is our home because Jesus redeemed our lives.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He is the Way to heaven.  He is the Truth here on earth.  And the Life he gives us doesn’t end here.

If you haven’t made the choice to trust in Jesus, there is no better time than now.  Tomorrow may be too late.

Davey and I would really like for you to join us someday in heaven…

He is already there.

Miss you, Davey.

 

#8144loveyou

May 19, 2016

When the worst happened.

Someone I loved deeply and planned to have in my life for a very long time went to work…..

and never returned.  It is my worst nightmare.

My son, Dave Glasser, was a Phoenix Police officer for 12 years.  So I know about the small cloud of anxiety that hangs over Police Officers and their families every day.  Hoping..

and praying..

that today is not the day they don’t come back.

daveys-shield

Because my son didn’t come back.

And my world exploded.

For 4 1/2 years I’ve been picking up the pieces of my life and figuring out how they fit together around this very large hole in my heart.  I know God has a purpose for what happened and one part of that purpose is me sharing some of this journey with you.  It’s a very tough road filled with huge mountains and big potholes and constant blind curves.  It’s paved with grief and pain, flooded with tears.

Unfortunately, there are way too many people on this road with me – you know what’s it’s like when your son, daughter, husband or friend doesn’t come back.

One of the good things about this nightmare has been my Blue Family.  The amount of care and love and encouragement we have received has been phenomenal.  Unbelievable.  And it started immediately.  I remember my first conversation with my boss after Davey was killed and he reminded me of the Employee Assistance Program provided by the company I worked for.  I told him I didn’t need it because the Phoenix Police Department had an Employee Assistance Team ‘on steroids’ led by Dave Osborne.  We were totally taken care of.

Since then, I cannot tell you how many police officers have talked to me personally and said, “Let me know if you ever need anything.  I mean it. Here’s my cell number.”  And they’ve shown up when they are needed or whenever they know they can help.  When we’ve asked for police volunteers for a David Glasser Foundation event, a crowd of officers always steps forward to prove that they aren’t just saying they will be there for us, they mean it.  Davey’s squad has been amazing in their love and support even as they have been working through their pain.  The Phoenix Police Department has been awesome in their support of us and of the foundation – always willing to do whatever they can to help.

My family actually does bleed blue.  The courage and love and honor that embodies a great Police Officer runs through of the veins of many of my Blue Family members.  Others of us in the ‘family’ have hearts of blue because we love and encourage and pray for our members who wear the uniform.

If either of these describe you, thanks for being a part of my Blue Family.

It’s not an easy family to be a part of.

The worst can happen.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

It’s Still Beating

He had the Heart of a Warrior and –

somewhere –

his heart is still beating.

My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  He was an organ donor.

Davey was only 34 years-old and in excellent physical condition when he was killed by a shot to his head.  The actual process of him donating wasn’t easy for me emotionally.  It was hard to say goodbye and walk out of the hospital when drugs were still making his heart beat and machines were making his lungs breath.  But he wanted it, so it happened.

As a result, a whole crowd of people are still walking on this earth because they received Davey’s life-giving organs.

And someone got the Heart of a Warrior.

It’s still beating.

This heart beats for justice.

It beats for integrity and honor.

It beats for courage and personal sacrifice.

And it beats strongly for loving God and loving each other.

I believe that each of us has our own Warrior’s Heart.  God gave us things we are passionate about – things that make our hearts beat faster.  We’re all different so these passions are different as well.

The issues that we really care about are the areas where we are supposed to stand up and do something helpful, something positive.

How do I make a difference in this world?

How do you make a difference?

One very easy way we can make a difference is sign up to be an organ donor like Davey.  I’ve done that.  Have you?  Members of my family have received organs from other donors so we know what a huge blessing it is to people and their families.

Other ways to make a difference aren’t as easy but we need to figure out how to use our passions and our energy to have a positive effect on our world.  Don’t just talk about it – do it.  What do you get riled up about?  What angers you?  What frustrates you?  That is where your passion lies.  But we can’t let the anger and frustration take over – we have to use this energy for good.  To help.

One of the failures in our current culture is too many people are spending their precious time and resources standing against and protesting against things.

But what are they standing for?  Their time and resources could be used to help people – used to make something good and positive happen.

It’s a choice.

I choose to help others look to God, especially in the darkness.  I choose to stand for justice and freedom in our country by standing for the Thin Blue Line between the evil and innocent.

My Warrior’s Heart beats for loving God and loving others.

What does your Warrior’s Heart beat for?

What are you doing about it?

MIss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

I Know

When you walk up to me…..

I see it in your eyes.

I know what you’re going to say before you say it – you have lost a child.  And you know enough of my story to know that I have lost a child.

I see your grief.  I see the emptiness.  I see the confusion and ‘swirling’ going on in your mind.

You have never felt this kind of pain before.  You have experienced the deaths of other people in your life but it was never as devastating as this.

You look at me and you wonder how I can walk around and smile like a normal person.   Your world has exploded and you don’t feel like you will ever have a reason to smile again.

You wonder if maybe I know a secret…….

Until we started talking – and then you see how quickly my eyes fill with tears.  My broken heart lies right under the surface of my smile.  I feel your pain because it is my pain.  I feel your sadness because I live each day with that sadness.

My mind is getting used to the huge hole in my life but my heart is shattered.  I have no secret remedy to this nightmare but I have learned some things through this loss that have helped me move forward these last 4 1/2  years –

*Let the tears flow.  Cry when you want, don’t try to hide it.  I would have said I was not an emotional person before Davey was killed.  Now tears fill my eyes almost daily – sometimes several times a day –  when something pricks the pieces of my broken heart.

*Don’t stuff the grief and pain down – feel it, deal with it.  Journalling is great because it forces us to slowly work through our thoughts and feelings.  Writing this blog has made me think through a variety of difficult issues and come to terms with them in my mind.  The fog in my brain gradually lifted as I wrote about my pain and grief.  I gained clarity.

*Talk about it.  Find people in your life that have experienced huge loss and who don’t mind talking about it over and over and over.  Just keep talking about it even if you’re repeating the same things.  I had people in my life that I did this with and helped me organize my thoughts and get issues out on the table.

*If you have been reading this blog, you know that my relationship with God has been the rock I have been clinging to through this storm.  I don’t know how people get through tragedies like this when they don’t have God.  When a child dies, the life of everyone close to them explodes –  no one is strong.  God was strong for me.  He has given me strength and peace and purpose on this journey.  If you don’t know God, he is the secret you’re searching for.

*Working with the David Glasser Foundation has helped me moved forward.  One of the devastating factors of Davey’s death and the death of any child is losing all of their future.  Davey had so much to give and do yet – things he will now never get a chance to do.  So helping kids and families in his name gives us a chance to do some of those things – it’s not all lost.  I have talked with other families who have started scholarships in the name of the child they lost which is the same concept.  It’s a way to redeem some of what should have been.

* Focusing on being grateful for 34 years with Davey helps me.  Focusing on all the blessings I have today helps me.  I don’t let myself focus on all I have lost because that doesn’t help me stay positive and move forward.

I hope sharing this helps you.

This is a very tough road we are on.  Knowing we’re not alone on this road makes it a little easier.

Miss you, Davey.

 

 

Before

My life has a ‘before’.

Before my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016, my world was a different place.

It was a place where my family was whole.  When I think back to ‘before’, there is a special glow that shines on my memories and that light has now disappeared.

My husband and I lived 1 1/2 miles from Davey and his family the last 6 years of his life so I could expect to see him or at least talk with him almost every day.  He would regularly drop by unannounced for something – anything.  He loved people so he was always in search of people to talk to, people to hang out with.  Most of the time Davey had his son, Micah, with him when he dropped by and he wanted his dad to come along wherever they were going – Home Depot, Best Buy, where ever.  His then five year-old son, Micah, called Best Buy ‘daddy’s store’ so that gives you an idea of how often they went there.

Davey was a planner – always thinking about the next good time, the next tailgate, the next trip, the next get together.  There was a feeling of excitement and anticipation when he was around because there were good times coming.  Guess whose idea it was to have some fun with the leaning tower of Pisa when we toured Italy?

He was open and friendly, gathering friends wherever he went.

I miss Davey’s light in my life.

My struggle with the darkness, grief and pain this last 4 1/2 years has been tough.  I have often felt the gloom hanging over me, my longing for ‘before’ crowding out any joy of today.

It’s been a battle.  God has given me strength and has increased my faith through these awful days.  He has given me a lot of family and framily (friends who are family) including my Blue framily who have loved me and brought their own special light into my life.

I have started to see some of the lessons God is teaching me through this terrible journey.

One of my big lessons is about gratitude.

I. am. so. grateful. for. the. 34. years. we. had. Davey.

Words cannot express how grateful I am.  I have realized, when I focus on my gratitude for how awesome Davey was and all the great times we spent together, some of Davey’s light seeps back into my life.  Memories become warm and good instead of painful.  When I am grateful for the time we had with Davey, my world seems less empty and much less sad.

God gave us a precious gift for 34 years.

And I am extremely grateful.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

Surviving the Worst

If you have had a child die, you know that it is one of the worst things that can happen to you.   For some of us it is definitely THE worst thing that could ever happen to us.

After years of working at facing my fears, I realized quite awhile ago that the only fear I had left was that something bad would happen to one of my children.  A couple of years after that realization, my daughter was diagnosed with cancer.  It changed her life but it was caught early and there have been no more signs of cancer.

I thought that was enough.  That was my fear coming true and it was a tough, scarey time.

I didn’t know a tsunami that far exceeded anything I was afraid of was building up steam and heading my way.  It hit on May 18, 2016 when my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty as he was responding to a robbery call.  The waves of grief and anger and pain roared over my life – foaming, surging and destroying.  They violently ripped away any expectations I had for today and totally decimated my dreams for tomorrow.

The waves roared all night and grew stronger in the darkness.

But they were most painful in the daylight when I could see the desolation they had left.

The holes.

The emptiness.

The loss.

My two fatherless grandchildren.

This storm left my ‘stuff’ but took my son.   And I would give everything I own for one more hour with Davey.

To see his smile.

Hear his laughter.  And his jokes.

And one more ‘love you’.

Surviving the worst has taken away all of my fears.  Because fearing that something bad would happen did not change the facts about the bad things that happened to my children.

Fear is useless.

Fear does nothing but stop us from doing things we should do.

Fear keeps us on the defensive.  It keeps us cowering in the corner.

My prayer for all of us who have experienced the worst is that we will find courage in knowing we have survived.  I pray that we will act on  that courage because we survived for a purpose.  And I pray that we will set aside our useless fears so we can make the time we have left on this planet count.  Because our time is short – often much shorter than we know.

Davey would be extremely proud of the David Glasser Foundation which was created to continue his fight against hate and ignorance and violence.  He would love the reality of all of us working together to push back the darkness – one step at a time.  We are not stuck on yesterday, afraid that something else that’s bad is going to happen today or tomorrow.  It probably will – our fears will not stop it.  But our actions might.

With courage and conviction, we are moving forward, continuing Davey’s battle and making it our own.

The challenge I give everyone today is to figure out how to be a part of the fight for what’s right.  You are welcome to join with us by supporting the David Glasser Foundation or find your own battle.  There is much work to be done to reestablish truth, honor, respect, and love in our country.

May God give all of us the courage we need to do our part in helping to make that happen.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

When the Answer is No

This is a tough one.  It took me quite a while to come to ‘a good place’ on this topic.  It took me even longer to be willing to share it.

God could have saved my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer, who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  God is everywhere and he knows everything and he can do anything.

Nothing is impossible for him.

So, no matter what any doctor said, God could have saved Davey.

That night in the hospital with Davey hooked up to all the machines lying there motionless, my husband and I walked up and down the hall outside of Davey’s room praying for a miracle and asking everyone we saw to pray for a miracle.  The halls of the hospital were lined with people praying for a miracle.  Three waiting rooms were filled, many of of those people were praying with us for a miracle.

It was our only hope.

When Davey’s brain waves disappeared early the next morning, we understood that we were not going to get that miracle.  The heartbreak was overwhelming.  It hurt so bad that it was a hard to breathe.  Our world was blown apart.  Such a sudden, huge, painful hole in our lives.

I wanted to ask why but I already understood that the answer was not to ask “why’ but to trust God.  I already knew the historical account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who role-modelled this thousands of years ago.  Right before King Nebuchadnezzar was about to throw them into a blazing furnace because they would not worship him, the three men testified to the king and the watching crowd that their God was able to save them.  “But even if he does not, ” they stated, they weren’t going to worship the king.  They trusted God to either save them or let them die – whichever accomplished God’s purposes here on earth.

They were declaring that – even if God did not give them a miracle – they were going to trust him.  In their story, they received a miracle and walked out of the blaze without a scratch on them.

That’s not my story.  We did not get a miracle.  I will probably never totally understand the purpose of this terrible tragedy this side of heaven.

But I will trust God and move forward in obedience until the day he calls me home.

Jesus told all of us that in this world we will have many trials and sorrows……and this one is at the top of my list.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou.