A Pause to Honor

Honoring Veterans on Memorial Day 

by Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director – United Way of Charlotte County

Before you fire up your grill and slice the watermelon – pause.

In that pause, reflect on the many individuals and families you know who are taking time this weekend to mourn the loss of the veterans in their lives who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. Yet in the mourning – and in the pause – we honor our fallen service members.

While Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer, especially in colder states across the U.S., it also marks a time intended to be set aside to remember those who have served our nation.

United Way of Charlotte County’s mission is about mobilizing the power of our community. It is about service. It is about fighting to make the world a better place for someone other than ourselves.

Our fallen heroes mobilized in their branch of the military, served faithfully, and fought to make our nation better for generations to come.

This weekend we honor them for that sacrifice and commitment.

For the families they left behind, we stand beside you in your grief.

Valerie’s House serves Southwest Florida children and families who are working through the loss of a loved one. They offer a grief toolkit with helpful tips for walking beside someone who is grieving. This handout suggests that there is no time limit on grief. Do not suggest that someone has grieved long enough or needs to move on. And do not expect the person to jump right back into activities after a personal loss.

The toolkit says that you should acknowledge the person who died, bring them up, ask about memories, and reassure them that their emotions are normal, and that all grief is unique. Allow them to take a minute to walk away from a conversation, get some air or put their head down if they need to.

Allow them to pause.

Christine Carey, Director of Charlotte County for Valerie’s House said, “Military families often feel an extreme sense of isolation in their grieving. The families of these heroes must be supported by all of us who they fought and sacrificed for.” She added, “If you know a Gold Star family, those who lost a loved one on active duty in the military, let them know Valerie’s House is here for them.”

This weekend, let us all pause and reflect on our nation’s history. Our community’s history. And those who brought us to this place where we stand today. Let us pause and honor their service and their memories.

The Valerie’s House handout can be found at valerieshouse.org/grief-toolkit and grieving families can contact Valerie’s House directly for grief support at 239-841-0382 or christine@valerieshouse.org.

For more information about United Way of Charlotte County’s mission:  Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty, please contact Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director. She can be reached at director@unitedwayccfl.org.