He’s Not Here…

but he’s not gone.

My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 19, 2016.

He’s not here but he continues to live on in the lives of the people he touched.  And he touched a lot of people.

Davey loved people.  He loved talking to people and people were drawn to him because of it.  He was a collector of friends and he had a lot of them – from all over the city.  I’ve seen him get in a long line at the concession stand at one of the many sports games he attended and, by the time he got up to the order window, he had made a new friend of the guy in front of him or in back of him in line.  That guy would show up at the next Cardinal’s tailgate party and be automatically accepted into the crowd of Davey’s buddies.

Davey’s love and acceptance changed us.  We belonged when we were with him.  It was a special gift he had that sprang from his general love for people.

His influence on our lives is far from gone.  His “love you’ echoes in our ears, reminding us to love others every day of our lives – even people we don’t know.  I love this picture of a sign someone made –

It has been challenging me to figure out how show more love to people I don’t know –

On freeways – letting cars enter ahead of me even if I have to slow down to make that happen.

Grocery stores –  checking the people behind me to see if they have significantly less items that I do so I can let them go ahead of me.  I’ve also started letting moms with a ton of kids go ahead of me knowing that waiting in line with all those kids cannot be a fun thing to do.

Doors – I’ve become more aware of people behind me going in and out of doors so I can hold the door for them.

Smiles – having to wear masks in public has really made going out much less personal and pleasant.  This world has become a very lonely place – especially for single people.  So I try to catch people’s eyes if they are looking at me and smile.  I make sure to say ‘hi” if they keep looking at me.

Prayers – I pray for people I pass whose cars are broken down on the side of road.  I pray for the police officers and people involved when I see an accident.  I pray for the people who are in the ambulance with its lights on as it passes me.

I would like to hear some of the ways you show love to people you don’t know.  This world can be a very dark place right now and showing love can help shine some light on the people around us.

As a police officer, Davey showed love and care for people he didn’t know all day, every day.  This is what police officers do.  Davey also did this in his personal life, role-modeling for us how to love people even when we don’t know them.

Davey’s not here, but he’s not gone.

Miss you, Davey.

#8144loveyou

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