|It’s Never Too Late|
By: Brooke McKay, C.O.P.S. Marketing Coordinator
It took John Manning sixteen years to reach out for help after his brother, Corporal Donald Manning with the Fort Worth (TX) Police Department, was shot and killed in the line of duty on June 27, 1993. For years, John struggled with the devastating loss of his brother, while he cared and worried about his four siblings and parents, but never took care of himself or asked for help.
"After a while, I thought I had dealt with my brother's death. It was behind me... it was a long time ago. I started having some issues at home with my temperament and it was overflowing into my work," stated John.
In 2009, John reached the boiling point with internalized anger. He started functioning negatively because he never acknowledged the anger stirring inside him for sixteen years! When John hit his breaking point, his boss pulled him aside to say something had to change. John went home from work that day determined to put a plan in place to turn his life around.
"I went home and started looking online for something... anything for my ‘get well plan'. It was the strangest thing, I went to look at the mail that day and there was Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) Siblings Retreat registration. And I decided I needed to attend," said John.
C.O.P.S. Siblings Retreat is held annually for the surviving siblings of America's fallen law enforcement heroes killed in the line of duty. With activities that encouraged teambuilding combined with professional counseling, siblings realize that they are not alone in the debilitating grief that often affects surviving brothers and sisters of fallen officers. The true effects of the death of a sibling are often postponed for almost two years since the surviving siblings are so engrossed in taking care of others. After those two years, losing a sibling in the line of duty impairs their daily lives. Unfortunately, it took John much longer than the average two years to begin taking care of himself.
John spent the weekend bonding with other law enforcement surviving siblings from across the nation. They truly understood what he was feeling, many having gone through the same situation. He spent the weekend getting to know people, hearing their stories, and realized in one short weekend he wasn't alone. There was help out there for him!
When John returned to the Siblings Retreat the following year he was asked to share his story, "I guess my story is that you have to seek help, so you can address the emotional aftermath of a tragic line-of-duty death. If you don't address the issues, they cause long-term problems. I am so thankful that I discovered Concerns of Police Survivors before it was too late for me."
Concerns of Police Survivors' mission is to "rebuild shattered lives" of the surviving family members and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. In addition to the Siblings Retreat, C.O.P.S. hosts a kids camp, wilderness experience for surviving teenagers, and weekend retreats for adult children, parents, spouses, in-laws, and affected co-workers of fallen officers.
Visit www.nationalcops.org for more information on the organization and the programs offered to America's surviving law enforcement families.