Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grief: Veteran's Day Isn't Always Easy

For me Veteran's Day isn't about your views on war and peace.  It is about the sacrifice that people are willing to make for their country.  There is a misconception that every person who goes to war does so because they are tricked in some way.  There is a misconception that every person who comes back from war is incapacitated in some way.  We, unfortunately live in a world where evil exists and sometimes - not always - war is necessary.  If the prime minister of England, Neville Chamberlin, hadn't been a pacifist who negotiated with Hitler, 50 million lives might have been saved.  Even if you disagree with war it is important to care for the warrior. 

It is important that veterans with physical and psychological trauma get the help they need.  A veteran who commits suicide is a casualty of war as much as if he or she had died on the battlefield. However, it is also important to realize that many veterans are also competent, loving, skilled people.  It is important because employers need to know that they can hire a veteran without fear of them being unreliable.  War veterans handle their experiences differently, just as all grieving people handle their experiences differently.

Today it is important for me not only to honor the people who risk their bodies, minds, and hearts so that we can live our comfortable lives but also to honor their families and friends.  I cannot imagine anything more difficult that having someone I love in a combat zone.  What courage it takes to live day by day with uncertainty.  Then, when someone does come home psychologically or physically wounded it is their family and friends that they need to support and care for them.  That is not always easy.  Even worse, when someone dies in a far away place there are all the emotions that I keep talking about in this blog.

Veteran's day is a day of celebration - we call it a holiday.  We have picnics and parades.  It is important that grief does not get overlooked.  What I hear most often from people - mothers on Mother's Day, fathers on Father's day, widows and widowers on Valentine's Day and I have certainly left out a lot of people - is that they don't want to be forgotten.  They want people to remember that in the middle of celebration a heart may be breaking.  All it takes is someone to recognize your pain and allow you to have it.  Then your laughter and the twinkle in your eye is not a game you play but a real feeling.

I keep explaining the same thing but some people haven't heard it yet and other's don't want to hear it.  Grieving is real and it has no time limit.  People who are grieving can have a full and happy life.  That is my goal.  However, there are moments when it all dissolves into a blur of loss.  No one should be blamed for those moments or feel that they are not normal.  They just are.  There was a quote on Facebook - grief is the price we pay for loving. 

On this Veteran's Day I want to honor the courage and love it takes to fight in a war and the courage and love it takes to come home again - for both the veterans and those who love them.  Those who come home in spirit but not in body - it is right we should remember them and speak their names. 

I speak about Artie all the time.  Do not be afraid, if you know someone who has had a loved one die, to speak the name of their dead.  Ask them to tell you a story.  So many people are afraid that if you talk about someone who is dead people will walk away. Some will.  They are the ones who lose.  I've said it before and I'll say it over and over again.  The only thing that triumphs over death is love.  One way that love shows itself is through memory.  Keep telling the stories.  Keep listening to the stories.

I will never be able to understand the dreadful sights and smells and sounds of wars.  I will never know what it is like to see my friends killed by my side.  All I can offer up is my attempt to understand and my true gratitude for the sacrifices made. 

Today is not a day for politics and judgement.  Today is a day for remembrance.  xo

No comments:

Post a Comment