Grief & Loss > Supporting Australia’s service personnel and their families on ANZAC Day

Supporting Australia’s service personnel and their families on ANZAC Day

The YourLoss team is dedicated to sourcing and providing Australians with free and easy access to relevant and helping information and resources to assist them in all areas of death and bereavement.

ANZAC Day is a day of remembrance, and an important occasion when we mark the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces in WWI.

For our service personnel and their families, the day is of deep significance and often a time for reflection on sacrifices made during numerous conflicts spanning many decades.

Legacy is Australia’s leading charity for the families of veterans. It works for the partners and children of those who gave their lives or their health for our country, by providing essential social, financial and developmental support these families depend on each day.

Operating nationwide, the Legacy team has a unique insight into what the families go through on ANZAC Day, and how they cope.

Tegan Kanard, 4G Family Support Manager at Legacy Club Services, says that on ANZAC Day families can participate in the wider occasion, and feel proud to be part of a defence community that keeps our country safe, even though April 25 comes with mixed emotions for many.

“It’s a time for many families to reflect on the meaning of the day, but also to remember their lost loved ones,” she says.

“It’s a day for everyone to remember those who went to all of the earlier wars – those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who came back very different people to when they left. It is also an opportunity to acknowledge current serving members and the great work they do to protect our nation.”

Supporting these families requires an ongoing effort, not just from Legacy, but other External Service Organisations and the wider public. While we all remember our own loved ones in our own ways, it’s important for people to try and understand the particular intricacies of ADF families

“I think the worst thing to do would not acknowledge the sacrifices families go through,” Tegan explains.

“Whether it’s while the person is on deployment, if they have died, or if they have physical or mental health injuries, it affects the whole family and not just the veteran.

“I think there is more of an understanding from the community on ANZAC Day, and in addition to donations and buying our badges, there are other ways to help. If people know someone who has served in their community, they could drop off a poppy or a Legacy bear, check in on them, or even acknowledge them in a different way like thank them for their service etc.”.

“Remember that older widows feel the grief of ANZAC Day just as much as the younger widows”.

“Also be aware that a lot of the time, families end up sharing their private grief publicly on ANZAC Day, and this can be overwhelming, especially for the children. Like anyone who experiences grief, events such as ANZAC Day, birthdays and anniversaries can be very emotional for people as they reflect on the family member who is no longer there, or who is forever changed due to their service.”

Legacy supports these families through different means, including arranging grief support from professional counsellors like Open Arms. Legacy also runs various events, enabling families to have contact and share stories with those in similar situations.

This allows the children and their parents or carers to be around others who know what it’s like to lose a parent at a young age or to have a parent who carries significant injuries from their service. It also allows widows of all ages to come together and socialise with others who understand what they have been through and not have to explain defence jargon or lifestyles.

“There are social groups for older widows, for beneficiaries with disabilities, and for younger families as well,” Tegan adds. “These are the three main target groups that Legacy supports.”

“These events and our ongoing relationships with the families enable us to keep an eye out for the warning signs that someone is not doing so well. They might withdraw socially, for example, or another family might give us a heads-up that someone they know is suffering. We also look out for things like excessive social media posting about the veteran, or the complete opposite, as well as the usual obvious emotional signs.”

The work of the Legacy team is a valuable reminder of the many challenges the families of ADF personnel face. ANZAC Day is an annual reminder of their grief, loss and sacrifice. Looking out for military families is a way everyone can acknowledge their contribution to Australia’s ongoing security and prosperity.

For more on Legacy’s work, visit: Legacy | Supporting our veterans’ families since 1923.

The information on this website is for general information only and are not (and nor are they intended to be) a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, nor is it used for diagnosis and treatment. You, or anyone you are concerned about, are encouraged to seek professional medical or mental health advice and treatment from suitably qualified medical and clinical practitioners and providers. 

Our full terms and conditions are available here

If you are in crisis or think you may have an emergency, immediately call Emergency 000. If you're having thoughts of self-harm or harm to others call Lifeline on 13 11 23 to talk to a skilled, trained counsellor. If you are located outside Australia, contact your local emergency line directly.

Tags

Funerals & Farewells Grief & Loss Memorials Resources Strategies

The YourLoss team is dedicated to sourcing and providing Australians with free and easy access to relevant and helping information and resources to assist them in all areas of death and bereavement.

Also by this author

Related reading