Losing a friend or loved one is always difficult and sometimes traumatic. Whether your best friend or spouse passes away after a long illness or you lose a battle buddy in combat, grieving is painful. There is no “right” way to cope with losing a friend or relative — it's an extremely personal response that is unique to you and the nature of your loss. But in today's busy world, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time and necessary support to fully process grief.
For Marty, a Vietnam War Veteran, his Army buddies were like brothers, and losing them felt like losing family. He had a difficult time after returning home from service, when memories of the friends who died in combat led to nightmares and feelings of guilt. Marty began spending a lot of time and money at bars, where he frequently got into fights. He finally took steps to get back on track by visiting a Vet Center and getting support through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), where he learned how to cope with his challenges. Now he encourages other Veterans to share their experiences and support one another.
VA's Make the Connection campaign features stories of resilience and recovery like Marty's — from Veterans of every age, experience, and service era. MakeTheConnection.net connects Veterans and their families with mental health information and services to discover ways to live more fulfilling lives. Videos of Veterans and their loved ones are at the heart of the campaign, along with information about challenging life events and experiences, signs and symptoms, and conditions. The website also features resources that offer Veterans and their families treatment and support.
The website provides tips for dealing with the loss of a loved one, such as leaning on the support of friends and family. Making sure you eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, and avoid drugs and alcohol can help you take care of yourself as you work through your grief.
There's no need to set a timetable for recovering from your loss — but if your grief makes it hard to function for more than a week or two, you may want to seek support. Talking to close friends and loved ones about your feelings and concerns or joining a grief support group may help you feel less lonely and more connected with other people, while helping you take the pain of loss one day at a time.
In addition to finding support at MakeTheConnection.net, you can connect with care through mental health professionals or other staff members at your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center. Marty made the connection, and so can you.