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 before this happened 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.
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, 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 saw 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 that loss.
I’ve learned to give people who are grieving a lot of grace. I know from personal experience that I was saying and doing weird things, living in a dark cloud of loss for much of that first year.
I also realized that I had to give people a lot of grace when I was lost in that 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 have learned that there are many 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. If one doesn’t work, try another.
I was reading recently about scream therapy for people who have experienced a recent tragedy. And then I remembered I had tried it. That’s another memory that had been lost in the fog. The idea is that screaming will help you get out a bunch of emotion that you can’t express with words and crying. You have to be careful to do it in a way that your neighbors won’t call the cops. So I laid face down on the floor of my house one day and screamed for about 5 minutes. I actually felt better afterwards but I never did it again.
Somehow, someway, we all need to figure out how to move forward – because we are still here and have a purpose.
For me, the main answer has been to stay as close to God as I possibly can. He has been my Rock as this 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.
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