What Happens to a Family When a Soldier Dies?

grieving military family
What happens to a soldier’s family when he dies?

On Memorial Day, we traditionally remember those who have lost their lives serving in the Armed Services of the United States. These brave men and women have played a vital role in the history and safety of our nation. Since the Civil War, this holiday has been a meaningful day to reflect on the sacrifice of so many who helped maintain our freedom and protection. In considering this day, and the needs of children as we discuss in LakesideConnect, I thought about how the death of a soldier would impact his family.

Memorial Day 2013: How does a soldier’s death impact the family?

A harsh reality of our military is that a soldier could die in service. When that happens, what are the consequences to the family?

Besides the grief and loss for every family member, there is the trauma of death. It feels unjust and leaves a wake of emotional, relational and psychological consequences to parents, spouses and children of our military. A soldier’s passing can leave families bereft, in deep financial crisis, and suffering from subsequent issues common to those who have experienced such loss.

Young children cannot understand why they have lost their dad or mom. We can tell them heroic stories or attempt to help them understand their parent’s sacrifice on behalf of our nation. However, what they will usually feel is sense of abandonment and the loss of the parent they cannot replace. These kind of deficits often can lead to long-term damage to lives and relationships.

Honor is important. It is something we should not forget nor take for granted. Their sacrifice has allowed our country to be what it is today: a place of freedom.

I believe that if those soldiers who had gone before could speak to us now, they probably would ask us to support their families. And I cannot think of a better way to honor our courageous military than to provide emotional, financial and practical support to their parents, spouses and children.

I recognize that we all enjoy the break of Memorial Day but suggest that you not ignore the days that follow. It may be a time you can choose to reach out and help a child who has been traumatized by the loss of a parent. I can’t think of a better holiday experience than to help a child feel a little less abandoned and more cared for. Maybe those children and parents could enjoy some time with you or your family.

I wish all of you a very enjoyable Memorial Day and week. For those of you who have lost family members in the sacrifice of service to our country, I hope you know the comfort, peace and support of God, friends and family on this special day.

We deeply appreciate you and pray for your continued healing and recovery from loss. Thank you so much for your sacrifices for our nation and so many families.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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