Veterans’ Voices is a new column directed toward veterans and their families who have given so much to ensure our freedom in this country. This is an area where you may share your experiences, or read of other veterans’ experiences. We thank you for your service, and hope that you know how much you are loved and appreciated.
When someone you care about is grieving after a loss, or another war Veteran like us, it can be difficult to know what to say or do. They may struggle with many intense and painful emotions, including depression, anger, guilt, and profound sadness. Often, they feel isolated and alone in their grief since the intense pain and difficult emotions can make people uncomfortable about offering support.
You may be afraid of intruding, saying the wrong thing, or making them feel even worse at such a difficult time. Or maybe you think there’s little you can do to make things better. That’s understandable. But don’t let discomfort prevent you from reaching out to someone who is grieving. Now, more than ever, they need your support. You don’t need to have answers or give advice or say and do all the right things. The most important thing you can do for a grieving person is to simply be there. It’s your support and caring presence that will help them cope with the pain and gradually begin to heal.
The reason I say this is due to a funeral that I attended not long ago. Before he passed, he asked me to do his eulogy. His name was A. Michael De Cesare. I met him back in 2014. He was a WWII war veteran that recently passed away at the age of 92. I have been to his house many times and listened to some of his stories about his life. I could sit there for hours listening. Wow. I wish, now, that I was able to record his thoughts and stories as I sat in his office on the edge of my seat listening to every word like it was his last.
He was the kind of person that truly believes in giving and doesn’t expect anything back. He was the first one to offer guidance, help or just words to get you through things. I have called him late at night and early in the morning just to talk. He always answered the phone. He was too proud to ask for help so I would just go out to his ranch and look for things that needed done and just do them. And I knew as soon as he saw me working out in his yard or in his shop, he would start yelling at me. I expected that. I just wish he was still here so he can yell at me again.
It has been hard losing someone like you and it was one of the hardest things I ever had to deal with. All my accomplishments and achievements since I met you have been because of you. I constantly ask myself today what you would do whenever I am faced with a tough situation. I know if you were here, you would say I am being ridiculous for being so sad, you would laugh at me and tell me to be positive, and you would give me another “Mike talk.” I want you to know that I remember your laugh, your stories, and your sense of humor and your exact timeline.
I remember standing tall at his funeral and graveside paying “last respects” to him and his family. I didn’t know the words to say to his family, however I was there to show my respect for such a brave Warrior, comrade, and someone that I will remember as my “friend.” Mike, until we meet again. Email me at AboutVets@yahoo.com.
— Royal D. Goodman, U.S. Army / Vietnam,
1st Cav / 9th Infantry