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complicated grief

Memorial Day and Bereavement

In Memoriam…

In memory of, to honor the memory of those who have come before or have fallen. These words are powerful in nature and quite often, elicit a sobering effect on those who hear or see them. They tell the reader or those present that now is a time for silence and reflection. A time to give solace and respect as well as pay homage and well wishes to those who have departed and those who yet remain behind. A time for mourning and supporting those who experience grief.

Culturally, these are the very words etched into the headstones of many beloved family and friends who are laid to rest and with great care and love to watch over them. These sentiments can stir powerful emotional and physical responses in many who see or hear them who have felt or experienced a loss. It can be very hard to be reminded or relive these memories, much less see a nation not understand this pain or tragedy.

Professionally, it’s important to keep the dignity of this day in mind while also understanding that the grief of a loved one is complex. Those who experience it are often reminded of their losses throughout this day as they move through the celebrations and honoring of those who have come before or are no longer with them.

Memorial Day was established originally between 1868 to 1970 and called Decoration Day. It was first celebrated on May 30th and has since been moved to the last Monday of May. It was brought about as a national holiday for mourning the U.S personnel who had passed while serving in the United States Armed Forces during the Civil War. Since then, many people volunteer to place flowers and flags on the gravestones or markers of military personnel in national cemeteries around the country and many families and friends mourn their losses on this day. Thus, it can be a particularly hard day for many who struggle to overcome the hardships and memories of these events.

 

The Confusion of Celebration and Honoring Memorial Day.

As professionals, it is important to keep in mind that Memorial Day is in fact a holiday, and a time of mourning for many people. Some might say that the day is a celebration of the lives saved by the sacrifices of the fallen. It is not uncommon to see fireworks in the evening, or picnics in the park; however, people grieve, and deal with the reality of loss in their own fashion. Some families are taught that by doing these things, they are reminding their family members that they are to appreciate what it is to be a citizen of the United States, and what its soldiers are protecting and fighting for.

Others see a more solemn need, and volunteer to spend time with the veterans and local community, giving back on days like these. Still others quietly remain at home and learn about the wars or conflicts that brought about Memorial Day, or other tragic losses leading to the loss of their own family or friends. There ultimately is no wrong way to deal with loss. To celebrate the memory does not mean that one is reveling in the death of a loved one, only that they take the time to acknowledge the importance of the day or event. These are all methods that are valid and can be provided as a tool for those looking to find a way to embrace their grief constructively.

Memorial Day can be a time to reach out to each other and share in the communal experience of grief and loss as well as national pride. Supporting those around each other can be simple. Often it can be as simple as just holding a hand or listening while they talk. This day is particularly meaningful to the nation’s veterans who often need both support and recognition of their service and any losses they may have experienced.

To Respectfully Show Support For Memorial Day, Suggested Options Include:

Wear A Poppy

The red poppy became the official emblem of remembrance in 1920, a reflection of the tragedy of Flanders’ Fields in France, and the legend that the white poppies upon that field turned red with a cross in their centers, marking the graves of the fallen. Able to grow in the harshest of conditions, they grew in the war-torn battlefields scarred by destruction in 1915. Even while the landscape left nothing but rubble, the brilliant red poppies burst forth like a sign of spring and renewal, a sign of hope for something new for the soldiers left behind.

Join In the National Moment of Remembrance

This is a time reserved and set aside, created in the early 2000, to have a moment of silence or to listen to Taps. It is known to be observed at 3pm. This means to take a relief from many things, and honor Memorial Day, and the silent reveries.

Visit and Decorate a Loved One’s Grave

Whether it is someone known who died serving, or any family member or friend, this can be a time to think about the hundreds of thousands lost both military and not who have left families behind. Men and women who are no longer here to join in this moment and share in this day.

Visit a Military Cemetery

Even if a loved one does not rest there, this can still be a powerful moment for some. Take time to pause in the day and pay respects. This can be humbling and often this might surprise some on the type of impact it may leave upon them, as to the scope and depth it may leave.

Attend a Memorial Day Parade

This is both patriotic and shows those who hold it, that they are supported and reminds them they will be remembered as well. It is Memorial Day, and the very idea of celebrating should hold this appreciation valid and valued.

Journal Thoughts or Feelings

If at the end of everything else, it can be confusing or awkward to participate in these activities, one may find solace in the quiet comfort of a simple journal. They can document their feelings and thoughts or the ideas or inspirations that come to them. This can be very therapeutic and help to put some sense into what a very conflicting or confusing time for some can be.

In Conclusion,

While some may celebrate the lives of those who are loved and lost, and others mourn the grief and struggle to cope with the passing of their loved ones, there are many constructive ways to deal with loss and support those who are mourning. Coming together in this day of remembrance and joining each other to remind those who are still here they are not forgotten is very important. The hardships faced by those in the military is something few may never understand, and this nation has set aside this day to help show its appreciation and its shared grief. This is a day to remember and to respect as well as to help those who have lost, are losing, and will continue to suffer loss. It is known as Memorial Day, and with that, it is In Memoriam that we, as professionals, should wish to remember those honored and who have given their lives for this honor. May they rest in peace and be never forgotten.

To those still in need, here are some valuable resources for grief and getting through Memorial Day and the struggles of Military Loss:

https://grievingstudents.org/

https://www.taps.org/

https://www.va.gov/

https://www.griefincommon.com/