A granddaughter’s wish came true when Brian Cahill decided to write about his son, her father John Cahill.
Cops, Cons, and Grace: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Suicide, (2018) is a recount of how Brian Cahill reconciled the suicide of his beloved son, John, and found dignity for his family.
Brian takes readers on a step-by-step path to a filling grace that’s rooted in service to police officers and seeing to the spiritual needs of incarcerated men.
San Quentin’s Catholic Chaplin George Williams writes:
“Brian Cahill found healing and strength in an unexpected place—with convicts at San Quentin state prison—after the suicide of his son, a 42-year-old police officer, plunged him into unimaginable grief. This gripping, personal and inspiring journey reveals the power of grace over death as the author channels his heartbreak into loving action, honoring his son’s life by teaching suicide awareness and prevention to police officers.”
There are important lessons regarding suicide prevention all readers learn from what Brian writes, “…I’ve learned the research shows that most people who commit suicide — not just cops but almost everyone who does it — believe they’re a burden, and those who love them will be better off when they’re gone.”
The anguish is clear as he goes on to say: “We all screw up. Some of our screw-ups are felonies and some are not. But they all have consequences…My wife has told me I have to forgive myself. My counselor has told me I have to forgive myself, And now I’m standing in a prison chapel and a convicted murderer is telling me that I have to forgive myself.
“I don’t know if it’s unique, but it’s pretty special that a family of a cop who dies would receive a condolence message from a bunch of San Quentin prisoners…I sit there on the wooden pew in this prison chapel, listening to a man who may never get out of here, nicely telling me to get a grip, to get some perspective.”
Cahill stands in the middle of two entities, believed to be against each other — yet Brian recalls his son once saying, “To my dad, the social worker,” and that’s where Brain finds his calling.
It might seem hard to understand why an incarcerated person would want to read about the suicide of a police officer, yet in this story, the father is someone incarcerated people rely upon in their healing journey.
The story is extremely well written, so that readers understand the sensitivity of the father, that Brain Cahill had to work through some trauma—that he had to seek and find forgiveness and remorse—which almost every incarcerated person experiences.
Brain Cahill didn’t only rely on his own experience. He continually sought professional help.