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Woman who lost husband in line of duty offers support to Deputy Zackari Parrish's family

Colorado COPS helps after line of duty deaths
Posted at 9:27 PM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-05 00:44:05-05

WELD COUNTY, Colo. -- When Heather Tharp heard about the shooting death of Deputy Zack Parrish her heart sank.

She doesn't know him or his family but she knows what it's like to lose a loved one in the line of duty. Her husband, Weld County Sherrif's Deputy Sam Brownlee, was killed during a shootout with a man accused of stealing a car.

"It is relatable pain, I know her pain, I’ve been there, I’ve lived it," said Tharp.

Tharp will be at Deputy Parrish's funeral tomorrow on behalf of an organization called Concerns of Police Survivors, also known as COPS. She wants to be there to show her support for the family, especially his widow Gracie.

"We want to start out showing her that we’re here to support her, make that connection as early as we can, let her know that we’re here," said Tharp.

A couple of weeks after Tharp's husband was laid to rest a widow reached out to her. She now serves on the board of the Colorado chapter of COPS as a way to give back.

It's been seven years since her husband's death, but Tharp says her grief hasn't diminished — it has changed. Last year she felt like she was finally ready to attend a retreat for anyone who lost their spouse in the line of duty.

"Your grief changes, it doesn't go away but it changes so the needs of the survivors change with it and this is an organization that is going to be there for you," said Tharp.

She says COPS will be there for the Parrish family not only at the funeral but in the days, weeks and years to come. 

"The service is over, her husband has been laid to rest and then what? And that’s where COPS comes in," said Tharp.