Military loss is a unique kind of loss, but many others have been in your shoes. Bonnie Carroll shares her experience with Dr. Gloria Horsley. Carroll is the founder of TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors in the military). According to her, military loss is a very different experience. There are different words in our culture to talk about these kinds of losses. Someone “gave the ultimate sacrifice” and there’s even a national day of mourning. There are national cemeteries just for those who died in the military. You can find these throughout the country.
These are all ways we can honor those who served and died in the armed forces. There’s a full notification process in the military when someone dies—most people have heard of this. However, this in itself can be a traumatic event. The rest is filled with ritualistic aspects, from the missing man formation to the playing of “Taps.” All of these aspects give honor to the service and family, but they can also be traumatizing for life.
A Different Type of Loss
TAPS works with families to incorporate these rituals in a way that provides comfort and healing. When someone is deployed for a long time, getting a notification can make it difficult to really comprehend what happened. If you don’t see someone for months or years, it might not seem real. There’s also a lot of media attention at times, which can be invasive for some families. TAPS is available around the country, both online and in person.
“Our loved one died, but they also lived an extraordinary life,” says Carroll. That’s what families need to keep in mind, especially during the hardest days. Military loss is unique, but bear in mind that you still have comfort and empathy available.