‘Recently, my colleagues and I were awarded the ‘Team of the Year’ at work.
We were awarded it because of the role we have all done this year as Family Liaison Officers (FLOs).
For those who don’t know, a FLO is a specially trained officer who supports grieving family members of those who have died as a result of road traffic collisions, suicides and homicides.
I myself am a Traffic FLO. The role has many responsibilities and can include passing the most unwanted and heart-breaking news that will severely damage a family and leave them picking up the pieces for the rest of their lives; arranging and supporting family with scene visits, roadside memorials, press releases, seeing their loved one in hospital or at the chapel of rest, relaying any police investigation and answering any questions at all times whether on or off duty, and attending inquests and sometimes court.
Just under three years ago, my best friend (and I know many people will also be able to say this) Robert Broadhurst, was tragically lost to his family, his friends, his work colleagues, and indeed the world when he went to work one morning.
He never arrived and was never seen alive again.
He died in a road traffic collision.
The pain and raw emotion I felt at the loss of someone who I genuinely loved has never truly healed, and when I try and compare my hurt to his family, in particular, it really doesn’t.
Personally, I think it’s like having a terrible scar that changes you forever, except internally.
There are so many things that have happened in my life since then that I wanted to tell him about to get his support and views on – some exciting, and some tragic.
Things have gone wrong that I can’t fix but would give anything to do so.
I like to fix things, and the loss of Rob is one of those things that no amount of regret, crying, begging, wishing, nor philosophical changes in personal world views will fix.
It is unchangeable, unlike so many things.
Despite that, however, when I joined as an officer, I was absolutely determined that I was going to become a FLO.
I did this almost entirely because of Rob.
I understood immediately the need for FLOs when he died, even though I personally wasn’t afforded one.
And I can understand that, not being a family member. If friends were afforded FLOs, every single one in the county would have to have been deployed for Rob.
I remember in my last face to face conversation with Rob he tried to convince me to go on holiday to Iceland with him as he knew I loved it there.
I think I laughed and shrugged it off, to which he said he knew I would, but that didn’t stop him trying to change my thoughts on the matter.
We never managed to speak again.
He tried many times to get me to do more. To get me to socialise more. To get me to live a little more than I already was.
Despite the fact that Rob is no longer here in person, his infectious desire to get me to do more inspired me to act.
He motivated me to go above and beyond in so many ways and increased my own desire to help others.
He is the reason I have been included in receiving an award which I value so highly and am so very proud of.
Despite my role as a FLO and what I have experienced, I will never fully comprehend the pain that families feel when they lose a loved one in such a way as what happened to Rob.
But what I can comprehend is the sense of sudden and extreme loss of losing a friend in these circumstances.
What I can also comprehend is the attitude and the true and genuine empathy that is needed for those who are left behind.
Rob is no longer with us, but his legacy will affect the way I and others act for ourselves and others for the rest of our lives.
On a heart-lifting note I would like to mention and expand on something that was said to me recently.
The Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago. Within that time, humans as we know them have only been around for about 200,000 years.
Within those 200,000 years, about 113 billion people have lived on Earth.
It is estimated that we interact with around 80,000 people in our lifetime, but 99.9% of these are not family or close friends.
What then are the chances of encountering those who we consider to be the best of friends, especially those who we share our experiences with for a shorter amount of time than what we were expecting?
I don’t know the chances, but I can say that they are infinitely small.
What a privilege it is then to be privy to such an experience. You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Thank you to Ruth Broadhurst for supporting me writing this post’.