It will be all the more significant as this year marks 100 years since the end of World War One in which it is estimated a staggering 40 million people lost their lives. This will be front and centre of both the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance and National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph Whitehall London. The weekend also remembers and honours those who lost their lives in all conflicts around the world. The greatest sacrifice is to lay down your life for your country and whilst the fallen remain focus of remembrance it is not the whole story of the human cost of conflict and war, as many casualties suffer long term and life-changing injuries both physical and psychological.
This most fitting national tribute is both poignant and emotive, especially for those serving, ex-serving, their families and the vital support organisations closely connected with the Armed Forces community. For some, this will be a difficult time and awaken past memories which could be both unsettling and upsetting. Any emotional reaction is totally normal and understandable in these circumstances. It doesn’t mean you are becoming unwell and is almost always temporary. Some people will fear judgement “I’m weak” or “losing control” if they express emotion openly but bottling things up only stores trouble further down the line.
If you are attending remembrance services, do go with other friends, family or former comrades to support each other. Whilst people will inevitably focus on their own experiences, try and keep the bigger picture in mind and remember why you are there. If you think you will struggle emotionally have a rescue plan to action and know your actions, i.e distract yourself by focus on something that’s not upsetting nearby i.e a person, animal, colour or sound, notice your footwear connecting with the ground, rock on your heels a little, breath slowly with slightly fuller breaths, breath in out a little longer, change your self- talk (thinking in your head) to more calming and reassuring words rather than upsetting or negative ones. “I’m Ok, I’m in control people will understand and care about me, It is only temporary, I will be fine.” Try and avoid alcohol if you think you will struggle as it’s commonly thought alcohol will relax you but actually it magnifies your mood, so if you’re feeling anxious or sad these will only become stronger. Scan your body for any areas of muscular tension you would be surprised how we can slowly get ourselves tensed up. If you notice any areas try to tense and relax them. It’s generally good for you and your long-term well-being if you can stick with it and learn that you can cope, however difficult it may seem at first.
If you are struggling this weekend, seek out support services. Remember, we are here 24 hours a day online at bigwhitewall.com. There are also lots of support services available such as your GP, Veteran’s Gateway, Contact Armed Forces and many others.
This site is not intended for individuals in an emergency. If you are in a life-threatening situation in the UK, please immediately dial 999 or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency department (A&E). If you are in a life-threatening situation in New Zealand, please immediately dial 111 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department (ED). Further crisis help can be found here.
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