Detective Carrie McNally from the Seattle Police Department shares about women in law enforcement and the changes she has seen over the course of her career. Carrie’s passion for law enforcement and for encouraging both men and women police officers, is an important and timely message.
Carrie’s Recommendations: Click the links for more information!
The impact of suicide on law enforcement is an important conversation for law enforcement officers and their families.
Officers are exposed to extreme stress on the job and the impact of that stress is accumulative and it can take a toll.
Suicide is not an easy topic to talk about but it is important to have these uncomfortable conversations so we can help dispel the stigma and assure that the message of hope can break through the trauma and isolation of police work.
The Law Enforcement Family Network Flashlight series is committed to putting helpful resources in your hands and this episode on Law Enforcement Suicide is full of vital…maybe even life saving… information.
Chief Jeff Myers starts the conversation about an experience that impacted the Hoquiam Police Department and then Dr. Robert Douglas from the National Police Suicide Foundation offers some special insight into the impact of Suicide on Law Enforcement officers and their families.
Sheriff Brian Burnett from Chelan County talks about the importance of his faith on this Flashlight episode. He talks about how faith practices have been a foundational for him during his law enforcement career and shares his own strategies for starting his day in the book of Proverbs. Sheriff Burnett also speaks about the importance of finding connections through mentoring that can provide strength during times of unpredictability.
He mentions a leadership book by Henry Blackaby that he has found very helpful.
Chris and Lacy Wolff are back for another episode of the Behind the Badge Foundation LEFN Flashlight series. Chris and Lacy are wellness trainers for first responders and in the last episode they spoke about having a sense of what is external and internal as a form of stress reduction.
In this episode they provide some insightful information into 4 7 8 breathing and why it is so helpful to officer and their families. Lacy and Chris explain and demonstrate this helpful breathing method in a way that is useful for stress that arises during a shift or the stress families feel in the ever-changing circumstances of 2020. This practical technique is time tested for first responders and simple enough to teach your children.
HERE is an article about 4 7 8 breathing that also says it can be very helpful for falling asleep.
If you’d like more information about Chris and Lacy visit their WEBSITE
Click HERE to Subscribe to the Behind the Badge Foundation YouTube Channel
Chris and Lacy have worked with the military for years teaching about the importance of physical and emotional resilience. In the next couple of Flashlight episodes, Chris and Lacy are going to talk about wellness from a mental, physical, social, tactical and spiritual perspective.
In this first episode they talk about stoicism and some of the ways that philosophy can be grounding. Here is a good definition of stoicism from an article written by Ryan Holiday and published in Thrive Global.
“Stoicism has just a few central teachings. It sets out to remind us of how unpredictable the world can be. How brief our moment of life is. How to be steadfast, and strong, and in control of yourself. And finally, that the source of our dissatisfaction lies in our impulsive dependency on our reflexive senses rather than logic.”
Gayle Frink-Schulz, Program Director for Behind the Badge Foundation and a police widow shares about the importance of finding space for healing and for growth. She shares insights she learned while responding to Office Rick Silva’s death. The lotus flower is both beautiful and meaningful and it provided a tangible touch point for the Silva family…and now for Gayle.
Here is an article that more fully explains the significance of the lotus flower. Click Here
Join us for new episodes next week with Chris and Lacy Wolff who will talk about Energy Management and tactical 4-7-8 breathing. Be sure to subscribe to the Behind the Badge Foundation YouTube Channel so you don’t miss a single episode.
Brian Johnston, Executive Director of Behind the Badge Foundation, provides details about the upcoming Law Enforcement Network Flashlight Series. Upcoming topics include: energy management, stress reduction, sleep issues associated with shift work, couples communication and resilience. New episodes will be up on YouTube and social media twice a week.
Whether you’ve already experienced it or not, all of us will walk through some form of grief in our lifetimes. That grief can take many different forms, whether through the death of a loved one, the loss of a dream, or recognizing unmet needs from the past. You may have shown signs with the five stages of grief outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (shock, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance), or you may have taken your own personal path through grief.
Perhaps you’ve been surrounded with loved ones or friends during your grieving period because it has been public. This often happens in cases such as the death of a loved one, a natural disaster, or a divorce or separation.
But for others, grief comes when invisible losses happen. The private nature of these experiences makes their importance harder to acknowledge. This might include discovering a spouse or family member’s addiction, wrestling through infertility, or experiencing rejection or abandonment in relationships.
Some areas of loss may seem small in comparison to greater tragedies and pain that are occurring in the world. Know that if this pain is having an impact on you, it matters. You might be uncovering stories of unmet needs from childhood in therapy, dealing with a chronic or major illness, experiencing generalized anxiety, or seeing the effects of aging.
The Process of Grief
Whether you’re dealing with visible or invisible grief, the process of grieving takes time, attention, and care.
We tend to minimize our own experience of grief in order to carry on with daily life. As others who are uncomfortable with grief urge us to move forward, we might rush past the experience of sadness in an attempt to “get over it.” We can be fearful of uncovering grief because we worry that once we feel it, we won’t ever be able to stop. Facing grief over the loss of a loved one can lead to potential existential fears, such as anxiety about our own death.
Alternatively, we can stay stuck in our grief despite years passing and wish we could move forward through it. This often happens with we feel stalled out or stuck in the same place years after the loss. Usually this indicates that there is a certain layer of grief that hasn’t yet been accessed because of the additional pain it brings up.
How to Grieve Well
ADDRESS THE ASSUMPTIONS YOU HAVE ABOUT GRIEF.
Do you assume once you start crying, you won’t be able to stop? Are you fearful of the judgment of others who don’t understand?
Write a list of all the thoughts that immediately come to mind when you think about grief, good or bad. Review your list and look for cognitive distortions or faulty assumptions. Notice how they are leading you to feel anxiety. Anxiety leads us to see only the worst-case scenario, rather than realistic possibilities. Consider also what the best-case scenario might be of allowing yourself to grieve.
If you have questions you can’t answer, educate yourself on the grieving process. Learn about the stages of grief. Recognize that they are not linear: you can jump forward and backward through the stages. Remind yourself that periods of intense grief will not last forever – they will get better over time. Research online or read books about grief. Here are some resources to get you started:
NOTICE ANY TENDENCIES TO SHY AWAY FROM THE GRIEVING PROCESS.
These tendencies can be overt, like avoidance of thinking about the loss or refusing to grieve. Or they can be more hidden, like resistance to sitting down and reading a book about grief or leaving information out when talking with a friend.
Instead of getting down on yourself for experiencing these, instead ask yourself why they happen. They likely came about as a coping strategy to survive the pain of the loss. Honor what you did to survive. Then ask yourself what they’re protecting you from: what are you avoiding? What fears do you have about addressing grief? What emotions come up when you think about it?
BEFRIEND THE EMOTIONS THAT COME WITH GRIEF.
Seek to learn how to sit with uncomfortable emotions. This might involve getting out a journal and writing or getting together with a friend who can help you verbally process what you’re going through. Prayer can be a helpful way to sit in challenging emotions, particularly if you couple it with the experience of reading Psalms of lament or writing your own. These psalms are used to grieve the pain or suffering that exists in the world and can be used as a guide to help you express your own sorrow.
Set yourself a specific time on a regular basis to sit down and check in with your emotions. It could be a daily, weekly, or monthly practice, depending on how intense your grief feels. Try a tool like an emotions journal. Use mindfulness strategies to help you connect to the experience of the present moment both before and after you enter into this space of active grieving.
TALK ABOUT YOUR GRIEF WITH SOMEONE ELSE.
Sometimes, simply naming an emotion or talking about an experience of grief can provide respite from the pain. Reach out to safe friends or family members who are willing to sit with you in your grief.
If you don’t feel able to share in your current relationships, look for a grief support group at your local church, hospital, community center, or therapist’s office. If you’re dealing with grief in the context of addiction, seek out a 12 Step group specific for your concern.
CONSIDER WHAT YOU MIGHT BE LEARNING.
Be curious about what your grief is teaching you over time. If you’ve journaled, go back over old notes. If you spoke with a trusted friend or therapist, ask if they’ve seen any themes in what you’ve been sharing.
These learnings can help you approach your life with a different mindset. You may consider changes you’d like to make in life or people you’d like to spend more time with as a result of this process. Let this new knowledge and understanding affect your behaviors and choices to better reflect your values.
FIND MEANING IN THE GRIEF.
Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, addresses the importance of finding meaning in suffering and pain. Similarly, consider how this pain and loss has shaped you or changed your perspective. Psychologists call this concept post-traumatic growth, pointing out the benefits that come from opportunities for growth and change after surviving trauma or loss. Consider a vision for your future that includes these insights gained from the experience of grief.
“I think of mother often,” Maya Angelou told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer. “I think of myself as mother. I think of men as mother—some men. My son has mothered his son, fathered his son. I don’t think you have to be a woman to mother.”
With these sentiments in mind, Angelou, arguably America’s most famous poet, wrote a book in honor of mothers, Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me.
“Yes. It is true. I was created in you,” she read from the book. “It is also true that you were created for me. I own your voice. It was shaped and tuned to sooth me. Your arms were molded into a cradle to hold me, to rock me. The scent of your body was the air perfumed for me to breathe.”
Angelou said a mother did not indulge but loved unconditionally in the deepest possible of ways.
“Love may be the matter that keeps the stars in the firmament. It may be. Love allows you to be tough and tender,” she said. “Love. It does not say you can get away with this and I’ll turn my—because you’re so cute—I’ll turn my back, to something that may harm you later on. No. Love affords you the ability to be courageous.”
In the book that made her famous, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou wrote, “My mother’s beauty literally assailed me. Her smile widened her mouth beyond her cheeks, beyond her years, and seemingly through the walls to the street outside.”
Her mother, she said, was her everything.
Yet her glamorous mother could not handle her small children, and Angelou’s grandmother raised her until she was in her teens. Rather than focus on her wounds, Angelou said she used “the scar to sharpen my pen to write a poem.”
When Angelou was 21 and a young mother, she was holding down two jobs and living on her own. One day, she went to her mother’s house and received some unexpected praise.
“She looked at me and she said, ‘Baby, you know at this minute I want to tell you something.’ She has fox furs on, silver fox furs, and diamond earrings,” Angelou said. “She said, ‘I think you’re the greatest woman I’ve ever met.’ She said, ‘There is of course Eleanor Roosevelt, Mary McLeod Bethune, and my mother. But you’re in that category.’”
“And I thought, ‘Suppose she’s right? Suppose I really am somebody?’ She used to say she was too mean to lie. And she was very intelligent. But maybe it’s about time for me to stop smoking and stop cursing, ’cause I may be somebody.”
Angelou was working on a cable car at the time, and was far from the famous woman she would become, but her mother’s words gave her a sense of her future.
“I have learned enough now, to know I have learned nearly nothing,” she read in another excerpt from her new book. “Only stay when mothers are being honored. Let me thank you, that my selfishness, ignorance and mockery did not bring you to describe me like a broken doll, which had lost its favor. I thank you that you still find something in me to cherish, to admire and to love.”
“I thank you, mother. I love you.”
Reprinted from the ABC article, “Maya Angelou on Mothers”
Behind the Badge Foundation received this brief powerful video on grieving the loss of a loved one during these unprecedented times. Thank you to Code4 NW and the Seattle Police Department for sharing this important message.