Currently, my beloved Central Kentucky is a community full of loss and grief. Last week a police officer from my hometown was shot in the head as he was investigating a robbery. He died two day later and today his family, the city and the law enforcement community will hold his funeral. Later within the same week, an EMT was hit by a car and his family made the decision to remove him from life support.
The media has widely covered both events. Communities are pulling together and displaying their support via blue ribbons, fundraisers and other displays of public mourning and support.
Grief is a heavy emotion and I have felt it each time I turn on the news or view my social media feed. After years of working as a grief counselor, I am well aware of the initial emotions of this time. I have felt these same emotions but I also have to state I have never had to experience grief on such a public level.
Today’s funeral for Office Daniel Ellis will certainly be beautiful and meaningful. The ritual of a memorial service or funeral is significant in the grief process.Specifically, the ritual of military and law enforcement services can be extremely touching. It is a ritual for everyone touched and involved touching. The service is a public statement that this death has happened.
What I wanted to say in this post was to share that there is a difference between grief and mourning. Grief involves the multitude of emotions that are felt after a death. Mourning involves the outward display of these emotions. Funeral services are a sign of mourning, the black bands the police officers wear on their badges are a public display of mourning. It is wonderful that our society welcomes these displays.
However, what I want to note is the grief and mourning process will go much further than today’s service for the family. Although I know without a doubt the city and community will support the family, as with all deaths – life will go on for those who did not see the office every day. For his wife and son, there world is forever changed.
In time, I will expand upon this post but for now I encourage you to realize that grief continues on after the public rituals.
I’m thinking of the families today and praying for them as they begin their grief journeys.