There are many honors that come with the role of a military chaplain. Honoring soldiers who have fallen is a great honor that also carries a great weight. Its an honor to help people celebrate and remember the life of a military member, no matter how he or she falls. That honor carries with it a significant weight because it must be done with excellence, and because those who remain are depending on the chaplain to help them through the loss they are experiencing. Its not a burden, but something we humbly do because our military members and their loved ones deserve no less.
In my short time as a chaplain I’ve had the privilege of comforting loved ones more times than I would like to count. My first opportunity took place during my very first drill, and my most recent was just a couple of months ago. There are lots of differences in the lives these men and women have lived and in the ways their lives ended, but what they had in common is more significant than those differences. They wore the uniform and served their country, and that cost them something of themselves. That is why no matter how a military member’s life ends we will ensure they are honored.
In November a young soldier’s life came to an end too early. His potential was cut short and the world, especially those who were close to him, lost someone of great value. There are no words that can make that better quickly, but there are some things that can be done to help people work through grief and begin the process of healing.
Celebrate their life
Share their stories
Listen to whatever loved ones want to talk about
Cry, with them and for them
Recognize the emotion that everyone is feeling
Point to hope
These are just a few of the things that I have learned as I have walked through this process with soldiers and families. I hope that in some way this helps you. I hope that it reminds you that there are still men and women who are willing to risk everything for others. I hope that it reminds you how precious and fleeting life really is. And I hope that in all of this you can see that no matter the loss, true hope, healing, and restoration are found in Jesus. In Him we can heal and keep moving. In Him we can have the strength to comfort someone who feels as though they have lost everything. And in Him we can find hope in that His children, though lost to us, are safe in Him and so are we.