As one reads the letters and poems, the pain of each word written comes through honest and raw.
These emotive words are written by the widows and children of fallen IDF soldiers. Wives longing for their beloved husbands to return – dreaming of a time in which they would have grown old together, and children wishing they had known their father better – that he would have been there on their first day of kindergarten or to celebrate birthdays and other milestones.
Every year for Remembrance Day, the IDF Widows and Orphans organization compiles a booklet of letters and poems written by loved ones who have lost a father or husband while serving in the IDF. Some died during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, others in Operation Protective Edge, during the Lebanon wars or in numerous other conflicts or accidents.
The organization, which was founded in 1991, works with 8,000 widowed women and orphaned children, advocating and representing them. It also help these families with financial support, and through the grieving process and social welfare.
No matter the time span, each of these women and children are connected through this sense of loss – a common thread that is visible through each of the letters or poems written, whether this loss took place in 1973 or 2014.
However, in the same breath, writing these letters and poems “shows a real inner strength,” IDF Widows and Orphans executive director Yuval Lipkin told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “It also gives these families strength.”
“For the family members, writing and sharing their feelings is a form of catharsis – it’s a form of therapy,” Lipkin said. “Every year, we send out a message to the families and give them the opportunity to write, and they chose whether or not to write and share their thoughts.”
He said that the initiative started when the organization realized how much it helped the bereaved get through their grief. “It gives them a lot of strength and independence.”
“It’s similar to an activity that we do at our camps, which we host for the children, four times a year,” he explained. “They take a balloon and they write something about their father on the balloon and everyone releases [them] together. Both initiatives allow them to release their emotion.”
Lipkin said that the booklet, which goes out to thousands of the organization’s friends, is a testimony to their inner strength.
“The week of Yom Hazikaron [Remembrance Day] is very difficult for these families,” he said, concluding that “it’s impossible to fill the void, but we hope that giving them this opportunity and helping them will provide them with a backbone of support.”