…On Grief and Loss

The following is a guest post entry into our Survival & Preparedness Writing Contest.


Here’s another little chat on another subject that we all would like to ignore. 

During the Vietnam war I lost close friends including my childhood friend that I joined the Marine Corps with. At that time in my life the rule of the day was “suck it up and move on” there was not time for grief or mourning, so you put it away for later…only later never came. I got pretty good at that. So good that when I went home and years later my parents both died within six months of each other, I was still able to “put it away and move on”. I was in PTSD denial for decades.


I just recently had my cat of 15 years wake me crying at six in the morning. He was fine the night before, sleeping in the crook of my arm. He went into seizures and died within minutes. I have lived alone for the last few years and he had been my buddy, sticking his nose into everything I did. Yeah, you can say he was just a cat, but the grief I felt from his death and having to bury him really brought a lot of emotions home for me and caused me a couple of weeks of loss and confusion in which I got very little done.


If you are going to effectively function in an apocalyptic world grief and loss are some of the many emotions that you are going to have to deal with, most likely on a regularity you have never known before. Give it some serious thought now, it will make things easier for you later.


We are all going to lose people close to us on an accelerated basis from things unthinkable in today’s world. Those with debilitating medical problems and diabetics will die much sooner than we would normally expect. Many will die from an unprecedented epidemic of violence, disease, hunger and a loss of simple hygiene. We will be living in the third world with very few third worlders who have the skills to survive in that world. I suspect the quantity of the dead alone will be a severe problem.


This will be an emotionally painful period and you may well “have to put it aside and move on” and I suggest that you do so for the sake of yourself and the others in your groups immediate safety. Although doing this has been a major cause of PTSD in combat, I can see no way around this other than to strongly suggest that as a group you address the loss at a later safer time. Have a formal funeral and talk about the person lost. Express your pain and cry as you would in the “Real world” Support those close to the person lost and listen to them, try to give them time to grieve and lighten their duties if possible.


We say “prepare for the worst, hope for the best” The loss of someone close will truly be the worst. Give it some thought now and prepare yourself to deal with that worst case scenario now as you would any other. You will probably not hurt any less, but you will come out the other side of it better to build a new world.


Regards, D.

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7 thoughts on “…On Grief and Loss”

  1. I think there is a difference between “suck it up and move on,” and acceptance of the fact of death and letting go so one can remake one’s lives without the person who has died. One is denial, one is the end result of the grieving process. Denial is very useful temporarily, especially if it isn’t safe to grieve at the time, as when there is too much to do just to survive because of circumstances. But we do need to grieve.

    I didn’t grieve when my dad died, nor when my baby died in childbirth. And when my brother died it was hellish. We did his lot of grieving “properly” and I was very aware that I was grieving for all my losses, not just my brother. Later I gave myself a week to deliberately grieve for my father and my baby where I made each of them the centre of my life for that week. I did symbolic things which brought me a much better sense of closure. There is a lot to be said for having black clothes as a symbol of grief and giving oneself time and space to remake one’s lives.

  2. thank you sir for your service I know all to well the meaning of loss in service to this country have had family members in our military since the the French and indian wars many have given there all for it I wish nothing but the best for you and yours sir

  3. USAA produces a well thought out little pamphlet discussing the stages of grief for survivors. There is an old Jewish proverb that states we are all working for our wive’s second husband. Recognizing women indeed usually live longer than men, I have tucked a copy of the USAA pamphlet away with my will. Those of you who are USAA members should request a copy.
    Panhandle Rancher

  4. D, I’m sorry for your losses and can relate to your experiences, Da Nang 68. Pets become very close and can bring on a flood of memories.

  5. D, thank you for your service. I am sorry for your losses. People all grieve in different ways. But in a war time or SHTF time, we may indeed need to put it aside and grieve later. Harriet and Panhandle Rancher, thanks for weighing in with your wisdom as well.

  6. Thanks for the comments and condolences.
    There is now a 2 month old rescue kitten, Madeline, now residing in the house. She is a little fur ball of love and energy that gives me at least a laugh a day. D.


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