Afghanistan veteran with medals and child

Exhibition pays moving tribute to lost loved ones

7 November 2014

Exhibition pays moving tribute to lost loved ones

Young members of SSAFA’s Bereaved Siblings Support Group have staged an exhibition of their own work remembering those who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The group supports young adults who have lost a brother or sister who served in the military and the special exhibition included poems, paintings, body-painting, spoken word and film tributes to lost loved ones.
It was held in London on Friday 7 November to coincide with Remembrance weekend and was attended by family, friends and invited guests.

Founded by the siblings themselves, the support group (pictured left) is run by SSAFA and is one of several groups, including a Bereaved Families Support Group. It provides mutual support and a place where young people can meet and talk to others in a similar situation.

Kelly Mason’s brother Corporal Thomas ‘Tam’ Mason, 27, was seriously injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in September 2009. Tam, who served with 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Black Watch, was flown back to the UK but died from his injuries on October 25th, 2009.

Kelly, who is interim chair of the Bereaved Siblings Support Group, exhibited poems that she has written about her brother. She said: “The SSAFA support group for me is a place where I can be myself. When I'm with other siblings I feel safe to cry, be angry or laugh and I know I won't be judged for breaking down as each and every one of my SSAFA sibs know exactly what I'm going through.

“I have always written poetry and tried to draw and paint as I feel it is a great way to express my emotions without having to say anything. Art has allowed me to carry on as normal a life as I can without Tom. Every time I feel low I pick up a pen and start to write or draw as I find it very therapeutic and I always feel a little more relaxed afterwards.”

Robert Templeton, SSAFA Director Health & Social Care Operations UK, said: “Everybody deals with tragedy and trauma in different ways and we don’t claim to have all the answers, but this group provides young people with a safe, confidential and independent environment where they can share information, advice and mutual support.

“Many people find the creative process helps them to express how they feel about their loss and this exhibition allows the siblings to pay their own personal tributes to their brothers and sisters at a particularly difficult time of year.”

SSAFA Support Groups

Our Support Groups are a community of Forces families and individuals all facing similar challenges who help each other and offer mutual support. Members can talk in our online groups, meet other members at our regular national events and find information to help you.