When Immortals Die: the stages of grief

Fiddlers’ Green in my minds eye

I don’t think any of us went into combat expecting anyone around us to die.  That was for someone else to do.  Then, someone did, and the ability to process and handle that fact had to be experienced and learned.  It was not covered in regs.  As these wars progressed, we developed a drill and a procedure.  Still, some losses for units and communities hurt more.  They cut deeper and bleed harder.

The Immortals

There were always some Leaders who stood out.  All Soldiers are special to me, but some just made you feel at ease.  They were Leaders who carried themselves through the conflicts leaving a trail of disciples who could do nothing but try to be more like their champion.  They had an instinct to time a smile or quip perfectly.  They inspired us to carry on through all the shit, (and there was a lot of shit.)  They were so good as to be clichés defining greatness yet did not use clichés themselves.  They were the Immortals.  They were untouchable in all of our minds.

When they fall they leave a crater.  I have lost a few throughout my Army career and some after I exited.

This week, we lost another two.  The Leaders killed this week are different in many ways from others lost in this conflict.  But, this groups stings more because they were targeted specifically because of their rank, position and influence.  They are the definition of an Immortal.

The Stages of Grief

The flurry of facebook posts and impromptu memorials is critical at this time.  Unfortunately, with two wars over a decade the small military community is familiar with the stages of grief.

Personally, if you stack up my grief there are smatterings of memorials in my own mind hovering in different places.  Some people get tucked away at this stage or that, some will start to move again with these new additions to the pack.  They all hold a special place in my heart.  I mourn them as deeply as I can feel about anything.

I think the thing I want to highlight at this time is that this is a process that will move at its own pace.  For some of us a few degrees away, it may move quicker.  For those close, it will probably take more time.  For the Soldiers and Leaders in the real world, (read Afghanistan) I hope you can find the time to mourn appropriately and carry on.  The rest of us here will muddle through.

I expect everyone to do their part, large or small, to help the families of the fallen.  When Immortals die, we all must do what we can to honor them and carry their memory forward.

How you can help

This page is set up specifically for one of the fallen.


Please contribute and share what you can.