A civilian friend of mine once asked what do LEO's feel and what goes on at a LE funeral , especially one that is a LODD. I explained the situation to him like this:
First off all funerals are are a sad occasion where people gather to remember and celebrate the individuals life. It is a time that is especially hard for the person's loved ones, but at a Police Funeral emotions run high and as a Brotherhood we all feel the loss and pain, not only for the Officer, but for the Brotherhood of the Badge as well. We deal with death daily in our chosen occupation , but a LE funeral is so much more than the funerals of civilians. We as police officers have a bond that is hard to explain to folks who do not wear the Badge.
At a LEO funeral we gather not only to support the family of the fallen Officer, we also gather to support each other in this terrible time. People often over look the deceased Officers co-workers, and especially the Officers partner, who at a time like this is hurting just as much and sometimes more than the Officers family because as partners a special bond forms, a bonding of trust. As partners we watch out for each other at all times and in all situations. We become each others closest friend and confidant during our shifts together, we share birthdays, anniversaries, births of children, graduations , good times and bad. This feeling of brotherhood doesn't end at shift change, as we always know that we are there for each other. It is especially hard on the Officer left behind because the "what - ifs" start. What if I had been faster to respond, what if I had missed the opportunity to make the first strike to save my partner, what if I had known a different way to handle the situation and did not have time to share the knowledge with him/her, the what-if's can be an endless list of things.
When you lose somebody that you work closely with everyday and depend on him/her to back you up in a situation where your life is in peril and the partner is the one to have passed, the grief and feeling of loss can be unbearable. At the funeral or memorial it is not uncommon to see Officers openly crying and supporting one another, nor is it uncommon to go up to an Officer that you have never met and just hug the person and say " I'm there for you Brother". The loss of the Officers life impacts each and every police officer...because we are ' family'. Every time another police officer/fire fighter dies in the line of duty a piece of me dies along with that person!
I still mourn daily for the four Brothers from Mayerthorpe Alberta, I mourn for the Officer in the North West Territories, I mourn for Dennis Strongquill as much as I mourn for Brock Myrol. I mourn for each and every law enforcement officer equally. A piece of me died those days that can never be replaced. I'm not ashamed to openly weep at the National Peace Officers Memorial in Ottawa, nor the National Law Officers Memorial in Washington DC, as each and every name on those monuments were part of my family, they were MY BROTHERS!!!!
It is important for us as survivors to reach out to the fallen Brothers department members as well as their families... a gesture as simple as a card to the Chief of Police of the department which he can share with the officers in that Brothers Department, or show to a fellow Officer who may come to him for support and guidance , just to let them know that they are not alone at this terrible time. I often (always) include a second card to the fallen Officers family to let them know that hey...YOU are not alone and that others care and also feel your loss, I usually will include my e mail address in case they want to talk or ask a question on the process of surviving the incident that a lot of Dept's and chaplains don't offer, such as where to apply for additional benefits, scholarships, etc.. that they may feel uncomfortable asking their loved ones co-workers.
You can ALWAYS find the contact information for the fallen officers department at www.odmp.org , it is one of many LE related orginizations that I actively contribute funds to so that they can continue to operate.... I also donate to CANPOMA the Canadian equivilant, NLEOMF, and to various orginizations that provide immediate financial help to families...
I hope and pray everyday that the day will come when I never have to cover my badge with a black mourning band ever again. My family is getting smaller......