Finding Your Way In The Dark Times

For many of our soldiers returning to civilian life and transitioning into veterans, coming home means starting a whole new battle – an internal one. Unfortunately, PTSD and it’s ability to never leave is becoming more deadly than the war itself. When PTSD gets the best of the soldier or veteran, veteran families need to deal with the aftermath and the void left in their hearts. Here’s some ways we hope will help.

We have a dedicated Facebook group dedicated to veteran families of solider suicide, and finding those who share your story is a great place to start. Please consider joining to show our strength in numbers, even if you feel you may not want to contribute.

So how do you move on or cope with the loss of your loved one? Truth is, there is no great answer and what works for one, may not work for another. While there probably is no “moving on”, there are a number of ways that you can try to cope and live in the present and for the future.

The first thing to try and find a silver lining in all this darkness. For us, that means remembering the shining moments in your lost loved one’s lives. There’s always more good than bad.  The families that we’ve talked to have found this as a very simple way to sort of flip the script from sad to glad. If you want to try, please visit our Silver Linings Memorial page.

Secondly, try to appreciate that their suffering is over. Laying a child to rest breaks the hearts of every one involved, but seeing them at their worst is now over. PTSD affects not just the veteran, and now it’s time to focus on you and those around you. 

Expert Advice from Around the Web

One of the ways we like to help veteran families is by doing most of the searching and sifting through most of the information out there and pulling the best of the best together for you. Here’s how you can cope:

  • Understand and talk about your grief and feelings – the shock and amount of grief after losing a loved one to suicide can be overwhelming – understand that there are some things you can handle on your own and some things you just simply can’t. Talk to anyone that you can – family member, friend, chaplain, military counselor, professional, etc.
  • Ask for help – do not be afraid or hesitate to ask the people closest to you for the things you need. This could be help with meals, lawn care, getting things in order, etc. This could also mean simply asking for space from people and well-meaning but thoughtless comments. Some days you may want someone to talk to and others you just want to be left alone… both of these are okay. People generally mean well but if they haven’t experienced it, their comments are generally not well thought out. Saying, “at least they aren’t in anymore pain” doesn’t exactly make you feel better. They may not be in pain – but you still are.
  • Take care of yourself – as hard as it may be, give your body the things it needs: sleep, hydration and food.
  • Write – many people find writing a letter to their lost loved one to be beneficial in the way that it allows you to express all the things you were not able to say.
  • Find resources and get the support you need – you do not have to experience this loss alone. If you do not have a support system close to you, reach out to support groups, faith communities, mental health professionals and the military community.

Quite possibly the hardest part will be the guilt that stems from losing your soldier. “Why didn’t I see the signs?”, “I should have done more, reached out more.” and all of those other thoughts that will creep into your mind. You are NOT responsible. Say that out loud, write it down, whatever it takes – but you are not to blame for this. The important thing is to take things day by day – knowing that some days you will be okay and other days will be harder than others.

Finally, please comment in this blog with helpful suggestions or push back on some of the expert’s advice. More dialogue helps us all.  If you can, support our December fundraiser – even if you don’t live in Jacksonville, Florida.