Christmas can be difficult for police survivors but the Care of Police Survivors charity is there to help families get through tough times, the charity’s president Sue Brace has said.
The holiday season, which once brought happiness to a family, can bring pain when a close relative is lost, particularly if it is the first Christmas without a loved one.
Sue said: “It’s good to know that you are not alone.”
Sue, the sister of PC Cheryl Lloyd, says the months of November and December can be the most difficult for families.
At these points in the year, Sue says she is reminded of how the tragic death of a police officer on duty affects so many people. “I think about my loneliness without my sister. I know how much I hurt but I cannot begin to imagine what the wives, partners, children and parents feel and have to deal with,” she says.
But families have benefited from the relationships they have formed through COPS, says Sue. “That unique opportunity to spend time with someone who feels exactly like you is such a valuable resource to help you heal.”
Denis Gunn, who will take over from Sue as president next year, agrees. He says: “Christmas is a time for families to spend together but for survivor families there is always ‘an empty chair’ at the table.
“Whether the fallen officer was the survivor’s child or parent, spouse or sibling he or she will probably be missed more at Christmas than at any other time, though we all know there are many, many difficult days throughout the year.”
Denis, the father of PC Richard Gunn, says that COPS is a great help for survivors, ensuring support is only a phone call away.
“In many cases survivors have established new friendships within COPS and further developed those friendships outside COPS,” he says. “I know many survivors who would willingly help lift me if I needed support and I hope they all know that I’ll always be happy to help them should they need it.”
Cath Keylock, the sister-in-law of DC Robert Keylock, who died in November 2003, understands too that the festive period can be difficult for families.
“When you have children who want to celebrate Christmas and have a tree, it can seem like the last thing you feel like doing. Often the first Christmas is the worst, but each one after that tends to get easier,” says Cath.
“You can pick up the phone at 2am and ring the friends you have made through COPS or it might just be a text on Christmas Day that lets you know someone is thinking of you.
“Like wedding anniversaries and birthdays, Christmas is a day when you want other people to remember you and your loved ones. That’s what COPS is all about. Whether it is a special day or a bad day, that’s what these people are there for – they are friends for life.”
You can find out more information about COPS at www.ukcops.org
Date posted: December 19, 2013