Please Don’t Thank Me – Connect with My Grief.

Hand in the shape of heart with American flag in the center. Please Don’t Thank Me – Connect with My Grief.

When anyone thanks me for their service, I’ve got to admit that I get a little uncomfortable. After all, I served during peacetime. I was in my early 20’s, stationed primarily in Hawaii, and drove a Jeep Wrangler – I was living my best life. I actually should be thanking you, tax payers, for my service. Honestly, it didn’t feel like a sacrifice. 

Thank You

“Thank you” is a common expression, though, to anyone who holds pride in our service members … and, believe me, the sentiment is appreciated.

I recognize that many people don’t distinguish between Veterans Day and Memorial Day; I know this because many people say “thank you for your service” to me on this day. I want to help you build a relationship with our Veterans … and here’s something I’d like you to know. Memorial Day is the day when we honor those fallen service members. The better expression to offer our Veterans is a connection between something you’ve experienced with them – loss and grief.

We all know what it’s like to lose someone so tragically, so suddenly, that there are very few words to describe the pain we feel. 


It’s brave to explore this connection with anyone who’s served in the military. It helps our Veterans feel seen, heard, appreciated, respected. It helps them feel, well, thanked. 

I have lost dear friends in combat situations. I also spent more than 10 years as a Marine spouse; I know what it’s like to hold a friend in my arms who just learned she lost her spouse. Thinking about those vulnerable moments sincerely brings tears to my eyes.

To help spark braver conversations with our Veterans so we can share in the meaning of Memorial Day, here are a few questions to ask in an attempt to build a meaningful connection with them:

  • What did you do in the military – did you deploy overseas?
  • What was your job in the military? Where were you stationed?
  • Can you tell me a little about the culture of your branch of the military – what makes it unique?
  • I can only imagine the great men and women you served with – can you share about the people you met in the military? Where were some of your friends from?
  • Today is Memorial Day – to the extent you’re comfortable, can you share a little about the men and women you know who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country?


My dear friend, Shannon, lost her husband in service to our nation. She was courageous to share her story on my podcast, Bet on You. Please listen in to Johnny “Mike” Spann’s – the first American casualty after 9.11 – and hold Shannon, Mike, and all members of our military family who’ve lost their loved ones in your heart today.

I’m with you,