Coping with the death of a loved one is a tremendous load to bear. It sparks a traumatic grief that can lead to feelings of abandonment or anger, in addition to deep sadness. During wartime, parents of fallen service members grieve the loss of the child they tried to protect. A grieving spouse or significant other may have the additional responsibility of caring for the children, helping them cope with the loss and change in their lives. Families also experience an additional sense of loss from having to move outside of their military community, which often includes a change of schools for their children. The surviving spouse or other family member may suddenly be solely responsible for the family’s financial situation or simply have to face the challenges of being alone.
Family members need time to grieve, not only for the loved one, but also for all the things that “might have been.” Chances are, such families would appreciate and benefit from outside support, but simply may not be ready to ask for it.
This section of our site offers ideas and links to resources for caring for yourself and others after the death of a loved one. All people need, and deserve, help in healing. If you are a grieving family member of one of our fallen heroes or are coping with a loved one’s serious injury, please consider sharing your feelings with others. You may want to consult a mental health professional as well, not only for yourself, but also other family members, children in particular. However devastating, sharing what you are going through with others going through the same thing is invaluable. Never underestimate the power of your wisdom to help another going through a similar experience.
If you know families or friends who have experienced a tragic loss, consider reaching out and providing support. Be specific in your offering, but also be ready to listen and respond, as the family’s needs may be different than what you expect. Remember, too, that holidays can be difficult. Be in touch at those times.
If you want to help a friend or community member who has lost a loved one, perhaps you know instinctively what to do, but maybe you do not. This helpful guide from the American Hospice Foundation offers clear and practical advice on how to be of support.
Grief is experienced not only when a loved one dies, but whenever a significant loss occurs. For military kids, important phases of life may pass without the companionship of a deployed father or mother. This American Hospice Foundation guide helps others understand children’s grief and provides ideas on how to support them. The .pdf booklet, Our Loved One Died Serving Our Country, has activities to honor those who died and process grief.
Snowball Express creates hope and new memories for children of fallen military heroes by bringing families experiencing the loss of a service-member parent together so that they can realize they are not alone. This organization operates with a nearly all-volunteer team. Learn how you can be a part of this three-day event.
TAPS provides ongoing emotional help, hope, and healing to all who are grieving the death of a loved one in military service to America, regardless of relationship to the deceased, geography, or circumstance of the death. TAPS meets its mission by providing peer-based support, crisis care, casualty casework assistance, and grief and trauma resources. You can volunteer to participate in helping others heal.
The mission of the American Widow Project is to provide vital support to military widows with peer based support programs designed to educate, empower, inspire and assist in rebuilding their lives in the face of tragedy. From throwing your own event to helping with a widow getaway, there are numerous ways to volunteer.