Officer’s spouse reveals depth of grief: ‘Is there a guide to being a widow?’

FREDERICTON — Until Friday morning, Jackie McLean’s Twitter feed was a mix of family moments, politics and wry jokes.

But since Friday afternoon, hours after McLean’s common-law partner Const. Robb Costello died in the line of duty, it has become a heartbreaking real-time peek into the intense pain that comes with losing a spouse so suddenly.

“That first wave hits you and it’s rough but it’s a tsunami, it retreats and seemingly takes everything with it and you’re left with a world you recognize and can navigate but that is completely vacant,” she wrote Sunday.

Costello was killed at about 7 a.m. Friday, one of four people gunned down outside an apartment complex on Fredericton’s north side.

A few hours later, McLean tweeted to media that she was “grateful for the outpouring of sympathy,” and referred requests for further interviews to the Fredericton Police Force.

Then, a few hours later, she began to describe her grief for her hundreds of followers: “This morning the most amazing man kissed me goodbye as he headed to work. This evening, I lay in our bed knowing that kiss will never happen again.”

On Saturday, she tweeted again: “It is very surreal to see your spouse’s face all over TV and news outlets and know that that’s the only way you’ll see him today.”

“Librarian friends: is there a guide to being a widow? I’m nervous and unsure I need a guide to follow.”

Late Saturday, Fredericton police were called to another dramatic incident. Heavily armed officers and about a dozen police vehicles encircled part of a neighbourhood not far from the shooting that killed Costello.

McLean retweeted a police tweet about the then-ongoing second incident and added: “What a thing to read while you work on writing your spouse’s obituary.” The second incident ended peacefully.

Also Saturday, police issued a statement on behalf of both officers’ families. In the statement from Costello’s family — in which she was referred to as Jackie Steeves, a name she also goes by — talked at length about her partner and asked for privacy.

“While I met Robb relatively late in my life, he was my soulmate, my best friend and the light of my life. We shared a love of one another that I only believed existed in the movies, except this was real life and it really happened. I cannot even begin to imagine my life without him,” she said.

“Robb was a dedicated family man. My children were so fond of Robb that they that they affectionately referred to him as their ‘Faux-Pa.’ Robb’s mom was the most important woman in his life and Robb was extraordinarily proud of his daughters.”

On Sunday morning, McLean took to Twitter again, her grief palpable.

“Robb told me every single day that I was awesome, beautiful and he loved me. Sometimes he was not as prompt as others so he’d say ‘did I tell you yet today how awesome you are?’”

A few minutes later, she added: ”My daughter said to me last night ‘without Faux-pa, who is going to tell me I am beautiful everyday?’”

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