Twelve Years Later, the Healing Continues

by Vince Sanchez

Editor’s Note: In the May issue, I featured a story about the murder of Vince’s daughter, Coco: I Was Not Able to Protect My Daughter. Today, he shares some of what he has learned on his journey through grief.

There is no stopping grief. If you try to fight it or ignore it, it can and will destroy you. Everyday people we come in contact with—co-workers, strangers whom we’ve just met, even animals—can pick up on the sadness and depression in you! Negative waves so to speak. At one time, someone mentioned to me that we have to find a reason to start living again. We also have to go through the grieving process one way or another.

I prefer baby steps. It’s been close to twelve years for me and only now can I admit to friends (mostly new friends) and family the truth. When people ask me how many children I have, I can admit that one of my daughters was murdered. I do not fall apart like I did before. I didn’t always practice that, but with Peggy’s [Sweeney] help on many issues and reading some books, I learned and found out how to channel those negative feelings of sadness, anger, hatred, etc.

Am I over it? Not by a long shot. Doubt if I ever will be. But I am starting to feel better about myself and learning how to put that pain in its place and look at my family that is still alive.

We all learn in our own way. I had an aunt whose son died because of heart failure at a young age. She could not live with it. Within a few years, she slowly physically (health wise) deteriorated into a coma and eventually died. When I asked my cousins how and why, their answer was, “she could never accept his death and wanted to be with him!”

I have seen this happen in many people; old and young alike. Well, I can go on writing forever. We are all in this alone, at times, and together (at times). There is no choice. That’s just the way it is. It is up to us how we try to deal with it.

About the Author: Vince served in the military from 1974 – 1977 with a tour of duty in Korea at the DMZ from 1974 – 76. He continued in the military reserves until 1989 while working and going to college part-time. Vince attended college for two years, at which time he entered the Northern University Police Academy and graduated in 1979. He served on the Tittabawassee Township (MI) Police Department for twelve years. Vince is currently a patrol officer with the City of Saginaw (MI) Police Department and will complete twenty years of service with them in December 2012. Vince has worked gang task force for three years and was a detective for nine years working various areas from juvenile to homicide. In 2006, Vince made the decision to return to patrol duty because he wanted to spend more time with his family. Over the years, he has been a firearms instructor for handgun, shotgun, and rifle. Vince is married and has four daughters and three grandsons. At the time of Coco’s death, Vince was a detective in the Major Crimes Division.