Two expressions frequently used when we hear of the death of a good friend or while queuing to sympathise with a family at a wake or a graveside are "we should meet more often" and "how are you?" Both phrases carry deep value and merit reflection.
"We should meet more often" - a recognition that the death of a friend makes us realise the opportunities we miss to support each other. Our lives seem to be busier these days and we seem to be meeting only at funerals.
"How are you?" - a question which grows in its value when we ask a friend how they are managing, coping or processing their grief. By actively listening to their response and giving them time to express their worries, we make a valuable contribution to their wellbeing.
Commemorations in the month of November, allow the military community to gather, to pray for the souls of our departed colleagues and to support their families. In time-honoured tradition, a wreath of laurel leaves is placed at a monument in memory of those who served with us and whose work and service contributed to the cohesion of our units. Mass is offered by the Unit Chaplain and prayers inclcuded for all who grieve.
This is a valuable time for families who are still grieving the loss of a serving soldier. Long after the military ceremonial at the funeral and at the graveside, the supportive handshake, friendly face and generous eye-contact maintain their value.
As chaplains we remember all our personnel for whom we have prayed a final absolution; we pray for families to whom we have broken bad news; we pray for colleagues who have shared our shock and sadness at home and overseas.
We continue to be grateful to personnel who speak the words "we should meet more often" and "how are you" to us in our daily work!
We thank especially Commcen staff who are such an important point of contact, the gate-policemen who see us coming and going to bereaved families, the PSS, for their good work, DCPs, liaison officers at funerals and the many people who minister Christian goodness and support to us in our daily work. Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord!
Since Ireland became a member of the United Nations on 14th December 1955, not a single day has passed without the presence of the Irish Defence Forces personnel, deployed somewhere around the world in the service of peace. It’s a record of which we are very proud.
Below are the names, ranks and dates on which Irish personnel have died overseas.
They are listed according to the UN missions/overseas deployments with which they were serving.
Please remember their families in your thoughts and prayers.