The loss of a loved one is never easy, no matter the circumstances of the death. But when a death is sudden and more violent in nature — like a military death — grief can be more difficult to manage.
However, with the right resources and a strong support system, mourners can find healthy ways to grieve and honor their loved one. Let’s discuss some grieving methods and memorialization ideas below.
When grieving, the examples below are just a few of the many emotions you may feel. You may not experience all the emotions below, or you may experience some of them multiple times. Remember, everyone grieves differently and there is no right way to grieve.
What’s important is how you cope with these emotions. You need to be patient with your grief and take care of yourself. Grief isn’t something that needs to be rushed through, nor is it something that will completely go away. It will get a little easier with time and through practicing healthy grieving methods.
Creating mementos and memorial traditions also can help you cope and honor their memory. You can pay tribute to the ultimate sacrifice they made for our country and honor the person they were.
Below are some memento and memorial traditions ideas:
- Create a display for their military uniform or make a memory bear with their uniform.
- Put their military medals and awards in a shadowbox along with photos.
- Place a mini American flag in your garden or a flower pot. You can write their name, birth date, and death date on the flagpole.
- Dedicate a memorial bench to your loved one. Your family can make it a tradition to have a picnic by the bench on significant holidays, such as Memorial Day and their death anniversary.
- Have a necklace or bracelet engraved with their name, birth date, and death date. The beads could be red, white, and blue or the charm could be shaped like the American flag.
- Compile a photo album of the deceased’s life. You could ask their fellow military service members if they have any photos.
- Reach out to your loved one’s fellow military service members and friends to continue learning about your loved one through stories.
There are several organizations out there that specifically help those who are grieving a military death. Whether they were your child, parent, spouse, or another loved one, there is an organization to provide you with resources and a support system.
Below are few examples of these organizations:
- American Widow Project — “The American Widow Project recognizes the sacrifices made by the families of our fallen and believes no military widow should feel alone in her grief.”
- Gold Star Legacy — “The mission of Gold Star Legacy is to provide support, information, and services to Gold Star family members, to promote events, memorials, and foundations in memory of their loved ones, and to encourage the public to honor and remember our fallen heroes.”
- TAPS — “The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offers compassionate care to all those grieving the loss of a military loved one.”
These resources can help you become an active griever. Through support groups, you can share your loved one’s story and your grief journey with others. Everyone can listen, support, and connect with others who are going through a similar loss.
Remember to also seek professional guidance if needed — funeral directors can help suggest some grief counselors in your area.