FAITH NEWS SERVICE – Each year approximately 175 peace officers are killed in the line of duty, from health-related issues, or other causes of death.* The year 2020 was especially deadly to the men and women in blue, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in violence due to protests and civil unrest. With every fallen officer, the aftermath is real. Grieving spouses are left to pick up the pieces, assuming the formal role of police widow or widower to honor their fallen hero.
April Katherman-Redgrave is the surviving widow of fallen San Jose Police Motors Officer Michael J. Katherman, and she knows what it means to survive the aftermath of losing her husband. In 2016 Officer Katherman was on patrol when another vehicle attempted to turn left in front of him, causing a collision. He left behind his wife, April, and their two young sons. Six months later, the 2017 winter storms in Hollister, California, flooded their dream home—not once, but five times—forcing April and her two sons to rely on the kindness of friends, community, and family to pick up the pieces.**
Katherman-Redgrave remembers feeling overwhelmed by the two major tragedies that had befallen her and her sons only six months apart. “Never mind the fact that I was a grieving widow trying to adapt to a new life raising two boys on my own, now the home we dreamed about was gone! All the time and money my friends and community had spent on renovating it after Mike was gone was wasted! I sat in the back of that firetruck soaking wet, holding my boys and my dog, not knowing what in the world I was going to do next.
I had no plans in sight on what in the world I was going to do with our once-beautiful, uninhabitable home, or where we would go once the six-month lease was up in our apartment. I just had to give my worries to the Lord and continue on. He allowed for all this to happen, and I knew He was not going to leave us stranded.”
In her personal memoir Through Hell and High Water, Katherman-Redgrave recounts in haunting detail the events surrounding her husband’s death and trial, the duties and decisions a widow of a fallen police officer must take on, the devastation of the flood, and how she helped her young sons deal with the loss of their father and their home. Katherman-Redgrave attributes her survival to the outpouring of help and support from her town, family, friends, and law enforcement community, as well as Jesus Christ. “Police families have a special bond. We are all tight knit and support each other through all stages of life and career with the unspoken realization that any of us could face the tragedy of our officer never coming home. After the hell and high water I had gone through, God especially has proven himself repeatedly to be more than faithful. Even through my darkest and most challenging times, He has performed numerous miracles and knocked my socks off with blessing after blessing.”
Today, Katherman-Redgrave is married to David Redgrave, where they live in Gilroy, California, raising five kids—two from his previous marriage, two from hers, and one from theirs. Katherman-Redgrave devotes her time to raising her family, writing and speaking to support and encourage other grieving spouses of fallen police officers, as well as those seeking love after loss and want to blend their families. She wants people to know that God sees them, God loves them, and God can turn their greatest pain into their greatest joys.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
April Katherman-Redgrave is an author, speaker, blogger, and founder of Beauty for Our Ashes Ministry. As the surviving widow of fallen San Jose Police Motors Officer Michael J. Katherman, April experienced unimaginable brokenness and despair but also witnessed how God redeemed a terrible situation into one of great beauty and joy. Once a school teacher and aspiring educational administrator, April now writes and speaks to encourage law enforcement, the grieving, the divorced, blended families, and finding love after loss.
Now remarried, April lives in Gilroy, California, with David, her husband on earth, and their five children—Joshua, Jason, Brayden, Tegan, and Savannah. They call themselves the RedKat Fam, a wonderful blend of the Redgrave and Katherman families. They enjoy exploring and camping in their RV, spending time together at their family cabin, fishing, sports, traveling, and hosting family and friends at their home. As a family, they always honor and remember Mike in everything they do.
To connect with April, you can visit her website, www.beautyforourashes.com, as well as follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
Beauty for Our Ashes website: www.beautyforourashes.com
Beauty for Our Ashes blog: www.beautyforourashes.com/blog/