When you lose someone, everything about your life suddenly feels different. The emotional pain can be disorienting and overwhelming, leaving you wondering how you will ever begin to process your feelings and look toward the future.

At C.O.P.S. Arizona, we help families of fallen police officers work through their grief and rebuild some happiness and normalcy in their lives over time. Here are our suggestions for how to cope with the loss of a loved one.

1. Be kind to yourself.

Grief can be consuming and overwhelming. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have the energy to do as many things as you used to. First and foremost, prioritize the things that make you feel the most comfortable as you process a this unwanted change. Everything else can wait.

Instead of pushing yourself to complete chores on a rigid schedule, do what you can and then take some time to relax.

2. Set the boundaries you need.

When you experience the loss of someone close to you, your entire world changes overnight. And while many people may grieve with you initially, people who aren’t in your family or tightest circle of friends may not fully understand what you’re going through or may expect you to be able to “move on.”

Don’t try to force your grieving process to take place on someone else’s timetable. Take the time you need to process what you feel, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries based on what you feel like you can handle. The people who really matter will understand and respect that need.

3. Reach out to others.

On the other hand, if you are drowning in tasks you can’t ever seem to get done or even if you’re just feeling lonely, don’t hesitate to rely on your support system. Make plans with close friends or relatives who bring you genuine joy and comfort. You are not a burden or an inconvenience to them: they love you and want to be there for you.

4. Find a way to make a difference.

One of the most fulfilling ways to spend your life is by helping others. Sometimes participating un activities that improve people’s lives or build up your community can help you discover a new source of joy.

5. Find a way to honor your memories.

Grief looks different for every single person. But one of the most universally helpful strategies to process grief is to find special ways to honor the person you are missing deeply.

If your loved one was a police officer, one way you can honor them throughout the holiday season is to participate in Project Blue Light. Simply place a blue LED light in one window to represent your fallen officer.

You could also create a scrapbook full of your most treasured memories, participate in a memorial run, or raise money for a cause in honor of your loved one.

Support for Coping with the Loss of Fallen Police Officers

Our C.O.P.S Arizona family is tied together by one common thread: love for the officers we’ve lost. Our 300 members consist of family and coworkers of fallen police officers who were killed tragically in the line of duty. We understand and empathize with the pain of every spouse, child, sibling, or coworker who loses someone they love.

If you and your family are mourning the loss of a fallen law enforcement professional, reach out to C.O.P.S. for resources and support to help you start moving forward and rebuilding your life.

C.O.P.S. Arizona is dedicated to rebuilding shattered lives of survivors and co-workers affected by line of duty deaths. We offer programs and scholarships for survivors in our local Arizona chapter. For more information, visit https://www.copsarizona.org/

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