I recently had a chance to interview Julie Zielinski about her new book entitled: “Matt’s Last Call: Surviving Our Protectors”. Julie wrote the book after her son, a sheriff’s deputy in Washington state, took his own life. As Julie reflects on the death of her firstborn son, she informs parents and children of the dangers of suicide, the difficulty of coping, the pain of everyday life, and lastly the days that happiness returns, even if just a little bit.
Matt Zielinski was an athlete, a U.S. Marine Corp. Sergeant, and ultimately fulfilled his dream of becoming a law enforcement officer. Matt worked for the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office in Wenatchee, Washington. He loved his work and was due to be appointed to the SWAT Team because… of the skill he gained from the Marine Corps.
When Julie Zielinski’s son committed suicide due to a failed relationship, her world came crashing down. Questions flooded her mind: How could she have stopped this? What next? And mostly, why? As Julie grieved her son in Matt’s Last Call: Surviving Our Protectors, she reflects on the life he lived and the memories she will hold onto forever.
Julie said that it was hard when people wanted her to get “over it” and wondered if she had had enough time grieve. She told me that she will never get over Matt’s death and to this day has trouble sleeping at night.
Julie said “Life does not train you for this. Tragedies like this can easily separate you from your sanity. All the usual unanswerable questions begin to flood your mind. And so the blame game moves on. Maybe as parents we were at fault. On and on it goes. Almost from the beginning, however, the Lord would not permit me to go there. There seemed to be some God-ordained plan in motion that would turn this evil into something good.”
Julie says now that she plans to use the book and her speaking engagements to “save a life”. I know she will save many. I was very impressed with the strength and courage of Julie Zielinski and believe that, through Matt’s story as well as her own, she will make a difference in law enforcement and her community.
Julie spoke very highly of the men and women of the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office and how they handled the suicide of one of their own. She said that everyone treated her and her family with respect and compassion after Matt’s death.
She commended then Sheriff Harum and the current Sheriff Brian Burnett. She was also thankful for the way that then Undersheriff Greg Meinzer, then Chief Criminal Deputy Clyde Foreman and Deputy Mark Horaski notified her family and worked with them in the early morning hours after the tragedy. She also said that from the night of Matt’s death throughout the ordeal Sgt. Mike Harris was by their side and helped with whatever they needed.
I believe that the loss of any officer or deputy will test the character of an agency, but the suicide of one of your own can be particularly challenging. The one’s who handle these things well are the one’s who are prepared and who have the systems in place to support their personnel. In this case the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office handled Matt’s death with dignity and grace and provided his family a funeral with honor.
I salute the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office for their professionalism and compassion.
Julie Zielinski is a wife and mother of three adult children, Tami, Matthew (deceased), and Mark. She has three grandchildren. Julie is a retired assistant tennis coach whose coaching style builds self-discipline and strength in meeting challenges both in sports and for life. With the tragic death of her son, she felt the need to help others. She shares her story to prevent pain and grief for other families, and to comfort other suicide survivors. Julie Zielinski is a first-time author from Wenatchee, Washington.
You can learn more about Julie and order her book by CLICKING HERE
Matt’s Last Call
Surviving Our Protectors
by Julie Zielinski
202 pages – $13.99 (paperback)
If you would like to listen to our 35 minute interview please click the replay button below:
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