‘I Knew I Wouldn’t Be Alone’
A TEENAGER has told how COPS helped him rebuild his own shattered life after his police officer father died.
Nathan Dent’s father, the Met’s PC Chris Dent, died on duty on 22 April 2009, aged just 36. PC Dent left behind his wife and three children. Nathan was just 10 at the time.
“When my dad died, I didn’t want to go to school, I didn’t want to leave the house, I didn’t want to leave my room,” he said.
“I didn’t even want to talk to my mum. If I hadn’t got involved with the charity and started talking about it then I would have shut everyone out.”
But the guidance and support of COPS helped Nathan learn to talk about the intense and challenging emotions he was feeling, and gave him the tools to get over the big hurdles, he says.
Nathan explained that this was by no means easy. Bereavement at such a tender age left him with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder; which he is still battling eight years on.
He says: “Not only has COPS provided general support group for me and my family when it’s been needed – and it has been needed – they have also funded counselling sessions for me which have allowed me to talk to people about what I’m going through and help me overcome everything. I would not have been able to do that myself, without COPS’ help.”
Last July, Nathan struck up the courage to stand before Survivors and guests at the Service of Remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and read a poem.
He said: “I had wanted to make a speech two years ago but I couldn’t do it. So I was really nervous this time. But when I actually got there, all of my friends from COPS were there for me and they said they would come and stand by me if I needed them. That just completely reassured me. I knew I wouldn’t be alone.”
Nathan says this is the main lesson COPS has taught him – not to be alone with your feelings. His advice for new Survivors would be to talk about what they are going through.
He adds: “There could be a time where you are just sitting at home crying your eyes out. If that happens, just ring someone that you know is going to listen to you.
“And when I say that – every single person involved in COPS will listen to you. We’ve got a COPS Facebook page; all you need to do is put a message on there saying that you’re feeling down and everyone is just going to be there for you.
“You’re not alone and no one is going to judge you. Don’t do it alone, that’s the biggest mistake you could make.”
Nathan warns that an inability to discuss emotions can lead to depression. And while his journey through grief continues, he says he is proud of how much he has achieved. Aged just 18 he is in full-time employment and he says he is working as hard as he possibly can in his role as a consultant for an IT company.
He also volunteers for the charity both at home and at the events around the country. You may have spotted Nathan selling merchandise at the COPS stall, running the tombola or selling raffle tickets at Survivors’ Weekend.
He also sells Christmas Hampers and runs bake sales in local hotels and schools to raise much-needed cash for the charity, and has helped promote the Police Unity Tour.
“I just want to try and raise as much money as we possibly can for the charity,” he said.
“And what I really, really want to do is I want to make my dad proud. That’s the ultimate goal. So I’m doing everything I possibly can just to do that.”