A Soldier’s Requiem, Never Fading Away

… Every day there are small reminders, and here was one: Julia would hang the ornament because her father, Lt. Col. Paul J. Finken, died in Iraq six years ago, killed by a roadside bomb on the final patrol of his yearlong deployment.

The moment capsulized one family’s self-guided journey through loss. Over six years, Mrs. Finken and her daughters, ages 14, 12 and 10, have struggled through different phases of mourning, sometimes together, sometimes on individual calendars. But the one constant has been their determination to remember, without letting memory become a millstone.

“I don’t want to squeeze the life out of the memories, because I want them to still be precious and mean something,” Mrs. Finken said. “I also don’t want the memories to drag us down. Because memories can do that sometimes.”

Since 2001, about 4,800 children have lost a parent and 3,650 adults have lost a spouse to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For most, finding that balance between holding on to lost loved ones — and releasing them — will be the key to recovery…


Read on in the NY Times here.


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