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Resources for Soldiers and Families

"In honor of the 23 men of 1-17 IN BN who fought and died in Arghandab River Valley and in our honor of the women they left behind. I am a wife of a commander in the 1-17 IN BN - a commander who made it home. But there are so many - 23 sets of mothers, fathers, spouses and children from our unit who are not so lucky."

A 1-17 Wife

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How To Help Your Child

Cope with Losing A Loved One

Help Your Child

If the fallen soldier has a family, the grief is complicated exponentially.  The grieving spouse has the additional responsibility of caring for the children and helping them cope with the loss and change in their lives.

Here is some guidance from an expert on grieving, Helen Fitzgerald (CT).

Parents and caregivers, the best thing you can do for your grieving children is to offer loving support.  Hugs and touch are so healing.  Listen to the child in your care and really hear what he or she is saying.  And create times for your children to feel safe to talk about whatever might be on their minds. It is so important for you and your family to keep the memory of your loved one alive and close to your hearts.

  • As soon as possible after the death, set time aside to talk to your child.
  • Give your child the facts in a simple manner -- be careful not to go into too much detail. Your child will ask more questions as they come up in his/her mind.
  • If you can't answer your child’s questions, it's okay to say, "I don't know how to answer that, but perhaps we can find someone to help us."
  • Use the correct language - say the word "dead" etc.  Do not use phrases such as: "He's sleeping," or "God took her," or "He went away," etc.
  • Ask your child questions to better understand what he or she may be thinking or feeling.  "What are you feeling?"  "What have you heard from your friends?"  "What do you think happened?" etc.
  • Explain your feelings to your child, especially if you are crying.  Give children permission to cry.  We are their role models and it's appropriate for children to see our sadness and for us to share our feelings with them.
  • Talk about feelings, such as: sad, angry, feeling responsible, scared, tearful, depressed, worried, etc.
  • Talk about memories, good ones and ones not so good.
  • Watch for behavioral changes in your child both at home or at school.

Sesame Street – Grieving As A Family:  Finding Comfort Together

You can also download this guide for parents and caregivers with tips, videos, children's story, and guide to help your family communicate with one another, express emotions, and begin the process of moving forward.

Other helpful resources are also available on the American Hospice Foundation’s website, including Military Kids Responding to Grief and Our Loved One Died Serving Our Country [PDF], a participatory way for the entire family to honor a fallen loved one.

Special Thanks
Helen Fitzgerald created or suggested much of the material for this section of the website. Ms. Fitzgerald has served as a grief and healing consultant to the “National Memorial Day Concert” for many years.

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