Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Please Don't Ask Me How My Son Died

2014 National Military Survivor Seminar
Readers may remember my introduction to 


I explained the compassionate condolence policy enacted by President Barack Obama in 2011. In POTUS Does It And So Should You we explored the importance of reversing a long standing Department of Defense dictum of not sending condolence to families if their deployed soldier committed suicide. 

But the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors is dedicated to caring for the families of fallen heroes who died under any circumstance:

"They all thought their loved one would return home from a military assignment. Instead, their worst nightmare came true... We welcome into TAPS anyone who is grieving the death of someone who died in the military - so our families have experienced loss in a variety of ways - from combat, suicide, terrorism, homicide, negligence, accidents, and illness. Our survivors include mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fiances and other relatives of those who have died." TAPS.org
This remarkable poem was first published on the TAPS Blog, on August 6, 2014.  Written by Karen Mojecki, mother and survivor of a beloved son serving in the United States Army, it raises awareness like nothing the Condolence Coach could write.

Please Don't Ask Me How My Son Died

Please don't ask me how my son died
His mode of death is not germane
He died while serving and defending….
Our way of life and liberty
He was upholding Army values

Of honor…commitment…integrity…

Your question rewinds my journey
To the "knock" on my front door
Two officers wearing uniforms
Were waiting on our porch
Their message was not wanted
They spoke those dreaded words

This son I had once sheltered…
I was not able to protect...
It hurts for me to think about
His pain, his wounds, his death
The grief begins again anew,
When someone asks me how he died

I do not want to name the projectile
That was the cause of his demise
Or how the medics tried to save him
Before he breathed his last -- and died
Perhaps others can recount those facts
I find them too horrid to describe

So please don't ask me how he died….
And replay that moment once again
Understand this painful journey
With compassion in your heart
Those final minutes were just a fraction
Of a unique and greater life

If you want to know about my son
His traits, his values, his loves
Then listen as I remember
And help me to celebrate
The life of this exceptional man
And exactly how he lived!

2014 Good Grief Camp for young survivors
Karen's request that we "not ask" about death circumstances is excellent advice. Being supportive is simple: just be present to the bereaved. If you are around when a thought or story or tears flow, just be there. Truly, that is enough. 

I know a military mom who lost her son, and whenever I've been in her company, she talks with pride about all the people his life crossed paths with, and how much he was loved. She has had those "circumstance" conversations--with the military, with the medical examiner, with her surviving children. That's enough for her lifetime, don't you think?

This is strong validation for the use of good memories and pleasant stories in our condolence notes. 

Refresh your thoughts on these condolence writing topics:

Keys to Comfort Explained  (sharing a memory )

Share this post with a friend, and thanks for caring!

No comments: