Centenary

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This week in Australia and New Zealand we are leading up to the centenary of our initial engagement in the First World War at Gallipoli in Turkey, an engagement that for Australia is often considered the birth of the nation.

Most of the documentaries, news reports and commemorations surrounding the anniversary are focused on the men who went away and what they faced on the front lines.

But there seems to be very little on those left on the home front so far from the theatres of that war.

Little on those widowed by the war.

I think about my experience - I knew what was happening. I'd reached a point where I knew Ian was going to die.  It was simply a matter of when and to be prepared for either being there, or the phone call if he died while I wasn't at the hospital.  And I'd knew I'd get word pretty quickly.

I can't imagine the uncertainty those left home would have felt.  Maybe getting delayed news reports of the slaughter that was Gallipoli and surrounding campaigns, and having no idea if their husband, fiancé or child had survived or not.

The constant underlying stress of waiting to see if the telegram or army representative came to your home to deliver the dreaded news that yes, they were on the casualty list.

Knowing their last resting place is on foreign shores.  That you'll probably never get to say goodbye, lay flowers at their grave.

Just being so far removed from the fighting that apart from the absence of one, or many, men from your life, it doesn't seem real.

Of not knowing what social supports would be in place, how you'd raise your family, run the farm, simply survive if you were a war widow.  Prior you might have had to head out and marry the first bloke that came along to simply survive - but they're all at war. 

We see the collective effect of grief when we join together at Camp Widow or our local support groups, but I can't imagine how that would feel on the sheer scale that occurred during the wars.

To grieve at a time where grief wasn't as understood as it is today.  Where quite possibly the pressures to 'get over it' was far more overt and wide-spread than we experience today.  

"Sorry your husband died, but the country can't afford for you to grieve, there's a war on".

Repeated again, and again, and again.

It's important to remember those who served and didn't come home.

But I'll also remember those at home who also sacrificed the life they thought they'd have.

Those that ARE at home, who have sacrificed the life they'd thought they'd have.

 

 

 


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