Three members of the Ukrainian army – Senior Private Andrii Stefanyshyn, 39, Senior Lt. Taras Didukh, 25, and Staff Sgt. Dmytro Kabakov, 58 – was buried during a service at the church of the Saints Peter and Paul garrison in the city of Lviv.
Even in this sacred space, the sounds of war intrude: an air raid siren audible to the sound of prayer and crying. Yet no one moved. Residents are now accustomed to near-daily warnings of an air attack. Everyone is asked to stay indoors for safety reasons. Mourners captive to their grief.
Didukh’s mother collapsed on her coffin crying. A soldier approached to lift her gently while three others removed the lid of the coffin revealing her son inside, a purple bruise visible on his temple.
As the coffins were opened, the crowd of mourners rushed in for a final goodbye, caressing the cheeks of the deceased.
In this war, the Ukrainian army proved to be resilient, outmaneuvering the power of the Russian war machine. But the cost was high.
The Ukrainian military will not release the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed – although officials insist that civilian casualties far exceed those of the military.
“As of March 10, the number of Ukrainian civilians killed by Russian interventionists is greater than the number of our soldiers from all our defense corps killed in action,” said Oleksii Reznikov, Ukrainian Defense Minister. “I want this to be heard not only in Ukraine, but all over the world.
Details of how and where these soldiers died are being kept secret. All their families know is that they were killed in the early days of the war.
Although Lviv is far from the fighting in eastern and central Ukraine, military units based here have been on the front line. Now those who were killed are going home. This Lviv church holds nearly three funerals a dayAs the funeral procession made its way to the military cemetery, Myroslava Stefanyshyn held a framed photo of her son Andrii.
“Two days after the start of the war. And my child was gone,” she said, bursting into tears. “Unspeakable regret. Desire. Grief. I can not support it. I feel so bad that I can’t find the words to explain it to you.
Dabbing her tears with a handkerchief, Maria Solohun watched the funeral procession pass. She is a stranger to these grieving families, but she still mourns them.
“They are all ours. These are all our children. They are our rescuers, forging our victory,” Solohun said, “Even if it is unbearable, impossible to bear this blood flowing like a river.”