Whenever we lose a loved one, we grieve. But surviving members of a military family may find themselves feeling a range of differing emotions if their loved one passes away while in military service.
Serving in the armed services carries risks, and families are aware of these risks when their loved one enlists. Military casualties are typically sudden and may occur after a long absence or even multiple deployments. It is possible that the surviving family members would have not seen their loved one for a long time prior to the passing.
Because of this, if a loved one passes away while serving in the military, the survivors will feel emotions unique to their circumstances. For instance, family members may feel pride for their loved one’s service, but they will also feel despair over their loss. They may also feel anger at the military, depending on how the death occurred. Or they may feel relief because they no longer have to worry any more. This may also make them feel guilty. These emotions can be hard to deal with and as with any grief, healing will take time.
However, because there are other families who have been through similar events, military families will also find themselves with a large support network available.
The Journey of Grief
As the grief journey begins, survivors will feel many different emotions. Grief can also manifest itself in physical ways such as difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, memory loss and difficulty concentrating. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts in the grieving process. The journey is different for everyone.
It is likely that surviving family members will also feel secondary losses. This includes changes in relationships and lifestyles. Family members may start to find it hard to talk to other military families who have not experienced a loss. They may also feel resentful of other military families.
Eventually, if none of the surviving family members are in the military, the family will have to move from military housing. This can compound their grief. Surviving family members will have to form new social connections and create a new identity apart from their loved one.
Knowing where to turn for support can help. Fortunately, there are many resources and support groups available to military families. For grief resources, visit https://www.vetcenter.va.gov/bereavement_counseling.asp or contact our funeral home ... we can help you find the resources you need.