“Children often go through a feeling of no longer belonging in the aftermath of the death of a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle or loved one. Other children at school and your community may not have ever experienced a loss of this manner, leaving a child to feel alone; as if they are the only ones who have experienced such a loss. When they can connect with other children with shared experiences, they feel comfort in knowing they are not alone and relief in sharing with others who truly know what they are going through as they have been there themselves.”
Losing a loved one to war is emotionally overwhelming to all family members and friends. The children themselves need special attention because they are often too young to understand completely what is going on and the implications in terms of their own responsibility to the surviving parent. Kids try to be strong, and tend to blame themselves for sadness demonstrated by those who are grieving for a loss of a loved one. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)http://www.taps.org/ can help families focus on helping children of surviving parents. Even when your loved one comes home to life after war they are often damaged emotionally, and do not behave the same as the person they were before the war. Children can suffer the same confusion and often be the brunt of toxic behavior resulting from the symptoms of PTSD, especially the expression of anger, and emotional numbness. As a post WWII child, we needed help in our home, but it never came. We had to experiment with a “hide and sneak” approach to distance ourselves as a coping mechanism. We tried to stay out of the way, and ended up with similar angry behaviors over time because of the lack of interest and caring demonstrated by our parents. Parents are often overwhelmed with their own needs during a tragic period, and children are ignored. Outside support groups did not exist following WWII, so we were left on our own in a very toxic circumstance of survival. Non-profits like TAPS and others can really help families readjusting to life after war, whether it is the consequence of losing a parent or addressing the challenges of readjustment to civilian life with loved ones, especially children.