Regina Collins Simon

3 Things to Put into Practice This Memorial Day Weekend

Is it Memorial Day weekend again already?

To me, it feels like it was just a few months ago. Like it was just yesterday that we went from being a family of three to a family of two. Or like it was just recently that we went from celebrating Memorial Day with BBQs and sleeping in to taking time out to not only consider our fallen loved one but all those who have served and sacrificed in this way.

And there are so many…

Surprisingly, though there are so many who still wish others a “Happy Memorial Day” or are quick to laud the celebration of an additional day off (for most folks, because lots of people still have to work), as if that is the most important thing to be considered. And until August 2005, our family was the same way.

I hope you don’t understand what it’s like because if you do, it means you have experienced the death of a spouse or child in service to our country. It’s heart-wrenching. The loss itself is devastating, but it is not really yours alone. You have to share the loss of your loved one with so many others, many who were brave and served alongside, some who were there when he or she was injured or killed, and those who are also learning to live life differently with a gaping hole in their hearts.

I’m so grateful to God for this newer (more healed) perspective that has taken quite some time and respect to come to. Memorial Day is no longer a day when I want to hide away crying, asking questions that will never be answered. It is also no longer a day when I get angry seeing people’s posts about all of the fun that they’re having. Truly. Every day that you have to be with friends and family should be treasured.

I say, have all the fun. Eat all the BBQ. Laugh with your friends. Take that extra-long nap. Squeeze in as much living as you can while practicing these three things this Memorial Day weekend.

  1. Take time out from the festivities to observe the purpose of the day. This doesn’t even have to be on Memorial Day itself, but sometime over the weekend, set aside some time to actively remember those who served in our armed forces and paid the “ultimate price” for your blessing of liberty. The Memorial Day Foundation does a great job of explaining the things you can do but also why you would do them. Since our move from Wisconsin where my husband is buried, we have been eager to find ways in our new community here in north Texas to connect with others to actively observe Memorial Day. Thankfully, we’ve connected with people who know of our loss and last year invited us to participate in the Carry the Load event ending in Dallas. Yes, I’ll have a small pack of tissues on me as we walk and yes, there’ll be tears, but I believe it will be good because we’ll be doing it together.
  2. Refrain from wishing people a happy Memorial Day. It’s not a “happy” day. As painful as it sometimes is to be reminded of a death in the armed services, we’re grateful for be a day when people set aside moments to reflect together on their willingness to serve and sacrifice in military service. And though many of the memorial activities are somber and serious, we hope people take the time out to remember them … with us. Let us tell the stories—which may make you laugh. Let us tell you the memories—which may make you cry. Call us, text us, invite us to spend time with you doing nothing. Please don’t make us feel like pariahs or like we’re too fragile to open up and share our hearts with you. We want to. Don’t be afraid of our sadness on this day. Please don’t be fearful of our pain. It’s not a happy time, but there can still be good parts to the day.
  3. Save thanking veterans for Veterans Day. I’ll admit, I don’t even know what to say to the Marines who served with our guy when Veterans Day comes around. I’ve read and heard about how weird it is when people thank them for their service. But even more awkward is when someone thanks living veterans for their service on a day set aside for those who died while doing what they also did … but survived. Instead, consider the pearls of wisdom in this article and take some time this Memorial Day to plan how you might be able to be supportive of veterans and their needs throughout the entire year.

Whatever you decide to do, take some time to reflect on Memorial Day, the experiences of those who are still learning to live without their loved ones every day, and the people who answered “yes” to the call with all they had to give.