Overcoming Grief as a Police Officer: Supporting Yourself and Your Colleagues

Managing grief in any context is difficult to do, but when it is a job requirement, it takes a unique skillset. Internally, you must process the physical and emotional harm that plays out in the line of duty every day, but externally, you are required to make logical, fair choices based on continually shifting information and stimuli.

It is a tough balance, and if you are in recovery, it can become even harder. Each day has the potential to hold a trigger for relapse due to grievous situations experienced on the job.

Here’s what you need to know to take care of yourself and support your coworkers in managing grief effectively:

  • You are not alone. Though there may be a stigma against acknowledging how hard it can be to deal with seeing people you have helped ultimately die due to abuse, neglect, overdose, or homicide, the fact is that your coworkers are not robots. They, too, feel it when these things happen. Broaching the conversation with your coworkers, especially in the days following a big call, gives yourself permission to acknowledge and process what happened, and it lets your coworkers know that they have permission to do so as well.
  • Help is available. National Grief Awareness Day is August 30th, and on this day, people across the country take a moment to support one another in their loss, no matter what its nature. Whether you lost a family member or friend, or are grieving your experiences on the job, it is a day where local community organizations go out of their way to let people know that there are services to provide support and treatment when grief gets unwieldy.
  • It is possible for grief to take a hard turn suddenly. You may have seen 100 people who have been the victims of serious crimes, and one day, it can be something comparatively minor that can set off an avalanche of feelings that may seem completely unexpected. That is, the “triggering event” for your grief is not necessarily the only thing you are grieving when you experience deep and lasting grief symptoms. Due to the ongoing exposure to trauma that is common among law enforcement, any event or culmination of events can cause complicated grief disorder.
  • It should not harm your job prospects to connect with grief treatment. If anything, connecting with a therapist, support groups, and other forms of support will improve your ability to do your job, and people in command know that someone who is struggling will fare better when they have the help they need to heal.

If you are struggling with grief or someone you work with is having a harder time than they would like to admit, take the time to learn more about the resources available here at American Addiction Centers. We offer a First Responder Lifeline program designed specifically to meet the needs of law enforcement. Our unique program offers police officers access to:

  • PTSD assessment and care
  • Dual diagnosis treatment (e.g., treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders like complicated grief)
  • EAP/MAP interaction
  • Reintegration assistance
  • Treatment plans tailored to the needs of first responders

What do you need to start the healing process? Contact us 855–997–6542 today to get started.

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