Passing on the Legacy

At times of lost and grief, Police and their families can receive the support they need from Victoria Police Legacy.

At times of lost and grief, Police and their families can receive the support they need from Victoria Police Legacy. 

The kettle is boiling, the house is tidy and family photos adorn the walls. It seems like the home of any family.

Inspector Bryan Sharp’s eldest daughter, 21-year-old Jessica, is away at University and his 13-year-old, Lauren, is home for the school holidays.

But, there is a much loved family member missing. His wife, Julie, who is only there in memory. 

“Julie was sick for six years before she passed away,” Insp Sharp said. “When she was 15 she had two melanomas in her leg, which caused her to lose the inside of her thigh. She thought her battle was over, but, 18 years later, the cancer came back.”

After battling the ruthless disease for six years, Insp Sharp’s wife passed away in 2002, aged just 39, leaving her husband to continue working full-time while raising their two daughters.

“Your life changes pretty dramatically when you lose your partner,” Insp Sharp said. “Some people drift away because they feel uncomfortable with your circumstances. I don’t know whether it’s because they don’t know what to say or if it’s just too hard for them to deal with as well.”

Insp Sharp said being supported by Victoria Police Legacy gave him the opportunity to meet others who had suffered the same losses at lunches, functions and retreats held by the charitable organisation.

Victoria Police Legacy provides support and services to police, current and retired, who have lost their spouse or partner. They also support the surviving children.

Likewise, if it is the police member who passes away, Legacy supports the surviving spouse or partner and their children. They offer personal visits, emotional support, counselling and social activities
including excursions, camps, lunches and reconnection days.

They also provide education, career and mature-age study grants, driving lessons and birthday gifts.

“At first I didn’t know much about Legacy, so I was a little hesitant to go to the social events,” Insp Sharp said. “But after I went to a few functions I met some great people and had a really good time.

“We don’t sit there moping around and talking about what’s happened to us. No one talks about why they’re there because everyone knows why and we don’t want to relive our loss over and over. We just chat about
day-to-day life, our kids, work, and just enjoy each other’s company.

“Being active and doing fun things while meeting new people is exactly what they want you to do, to get out and have fun rather than sitting at home and wasting away.”

Insp Sharp’s daughters also became legatees after their mother’s death and have been supported ever since.

Jessica and Lauren have made friends with other children who have lost their parents through reconnection days and yearly trips to Australian and overseas destinations.

“I was only four when my mum passed away so I don’t remember her as much as my older sister does,” Lauren said. “But it’s been really good being involved with Legacy because I have been able to meet other kids who have grown up without a parent as well.

“I’ve made some good friends and gone on some great trips and I really look forward to the events so I can catch up with everyone.”

Insp Sharp said losing your partner never gets easier, you just get used to it.

“I think time heals most things,” he said, “but it’s hard to adjust when you had plans and hopes for the future and then all of a sudden that’s taken away from you.

“Police Legacy knows they can’t fix what’s happened but they’ve helped me and many others simply by getting us up, out of the house and socialising again. We’re all incredibly grateful for that.”

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