Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Closure for a Soldier's Family

"Vietnam Soldier's Burial Brings Closure" was the heartwarming headline in Sunday's Usually in funeral service we avoid the term 'closure'. Closure can imply that everything has been resolved and grieving is over, but we know that it never really ends.

Certainly in this case though, a very difficult chapter has closed for a grieving family, and they can begin to move forward in life again. When families are denied the opportunity to say goodbye to their dead, to accept the reality of the situation, to have a meaningful ceremony and a place to visit their loved one, we realize just how important these things are.

Unfortunately all over this country, families are choosing not to say meaningful goodbyes and are choosing not to inter their loved ones in permanent places, and they suffer because of it. Here is an excerpt from the article.

Spc. Lawrence Lee Aldrich is one of the 58,000 men listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, killed in his 20th year when a 750-pound bomb landed on his position in the middle of a firefight May 6, 1968. Until last year, he also was one of the 1,700 men whose remains weren't recovered during or after the 10-year war in Southeast Asia.

But one day last autumn, a day almost no one in the family thought would come, a day Larry's dad died waiting for, the government called Aldrich's oldest surviving sibling and told him his brother no longer was missing. "It took me several weeks to recover," said Darwin Aldrich, who was two years younger and graduated from high school just days after Larry's death. "It opens up your head to a lot of memories and your heart to a lot of emotions that haven't been experienced in a long time."

The family had a memorial service in 1968 and another one in 1996, the second one an attempt to bring closure for Aldrich's aging father. But no gravestone marker existed for Aldrich, no place to visit on his birthday, no place to put a flag on Memorial Day. On Saturday, though, Larry Aldrich was buried in a family plot at Greenwood Cemetery outside downtown Fort Worth. His siblings had his casket placed on top of his father's.

"Part of my dad's heart believed that Larry had been killed," said Janine Peck, Aldrich's younger sister, who lives in North Richland Hills. "But it's very hard to come to grips with something when you don't have anything to grip. There's always a little part of yourself that believes there's still a chance that they were wrong. Dad held on to that chance until his dying day."

for the full article, visit

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Funeral service faces a crisis of relevance, and I am passionate about keeping the best traditions of service alive while adapting to the changing needs of families. Feel free to contact me with questions, or to share your thoughts on funeral service, ritual, and memorialization.