The Mental Health America expresses its gratitude to the brave service men and women who have lost their lives, and we offer our condolences to their families.
The death of a loved one is always difficult. When the death results from a war or a disaster, it can be even more troubling given the sudden and potentially violent nature of the event. After the death of someone you love, you experience bereavement, which literally means, “to be deprived by death.” You may experience a wide range of emotions, including:
These feelings are common reactions to loss. Many people also report physical symptoms of acute grief – stomach pain, loss of appetite, intestinal upsets, sleep disturbances or loss of energy. Of all life’s stresses, mourning can seriously test your natural defense systems. Existing illnesses can worsen or new conditions may develop. Profound emotional reactions can include anxiety attacks, chronic fatigue, depression and thoughts of suicide.
Mourning is the natural process through which a person accepts a major loss. Mourning may include military or religious traditions honoring the dead, or gathering with friends and family to share your loss. Mourning is personal and can last months or years. Grieving is the outward expression of your loss. Your grief is likely to be expressed both physically and psychologically. For example, crying is a physical expression, while depression is a psychological expression.
Be aware that the death may necessitate major life adjustments, such as parenting alone, adjusting to single life or returning to work. These challenges may intensify any anxiety and grief you are already experiencing. Allow yourself to express these feelings.
Living with Grief
When a loved one dies, the best thing you can do is to allow yourself to grieve. There are many ways to cope effectively.
Helping Others Grieve
If someone you care about has lost a loved one, you can help him or her through the grieving process.
Helping Children Grieve
Children grieve differently from adults. A parent’s death can be particularly difficult for small children, affecting their sense of security. Often, they are confused about the changes they see taking place, particularly if well-meaning adults try to protect them from the truth or from their surviving parent’s grief. Limited understanding and an inability to express feelings put very young children at a special risk. They may revert to earlier behaviors (such as bed-wetting), ask questions about the deceased that seem insensitive, invent games about dying or pretend that the death never happened.
Coping with a child’s grief puts added strain on a bereaved parent. However, angry outbursts or criticism only deepen a child’s anxiety and delays recovery. Instead, take extra time and talk honestly with children, in terms they can understand. Help them work through their feelings, and remember that they are looking to you for suitable behavior and coping skills.
Contact your local Mental Health America or the Mental Health America for information on mental health, mental illness, treatment options, and local treatment/support services. You can contact Mental Health America at 1-800-969-6642 (toll-free) or at its website, www.mentalhealthamerica.net.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. assists people who have lost family members in the Armed Forces. TAPS provides a survivor-peer support network, grief counseling referrals, and crisis information and can be reached at 1-800-959-TAPS (8277) or www.taps.org.
The Army Family Assistance Hotline is 1-800-833-6622,
and the Army Reservist Hotline is
1-800-318-5298. The Coast Guard Reserve Website is www.uscg.mil/hq/reserve/reshmpg.html. The number for Marine Corps Community Service Centers West of the Mississippi is 1-800-253-1624; and, East of the Mississippi, the number is 1-800-336-4663.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website contains information on and applications for compensation, health, burial, special programs, and other benefits. Contact www.va.gov.
The following military family service-related websites include information and networking: www.lifelines2000.org; www.militarycity.com (this includes access to www.armytimes.com, www.navytimes.com, www.airforcetimes.com, and www.marinecorpstimes.com); www.afsv.af.mil/FMP; and www.sgtmoms.com.
The Mental Health America has several resources available to help you and others cope with tragic events, loss and other topics. To obtain this information, call our toll-free line 800-969-6642.