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In the vast windswept cemetery on the outskirts of Dnipro low clouds drift and mist drizzles over the graves of the fallen in this war.

There is no noise apart from the flapping of hundreds of Ukraine flags – blue for the sky, yellow for the wheatfields of this farming country.

Mounds of freshly dug earth indicate new graves in preparation for more bodies brought from the frontlines.

Their arrival is inevitable now, and most are coming from the eastern city of Bakhmut.

In the bleak light we watch from a distance as a family huddles together, laying flowers, paying their respects, and quietly grieving.

They are the family of Alik Lychko, a soldier recently killed in the battle for Bakhmut; he was buried here just two days earlier.

We approached, they wanted to talk. Perhaps they felt that talking about their brother and son would help preserve his memory.

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“We don’t know how to cope with our grief,” his mother Anna tells me between quiet sobs.

“He was only 24 years old; we can’t just pull ourselves together.”

The Lychko family is from Soledar in the east, but they fled as Russian forces moved in.

The Russians have taken their land, so their brother and son is buried here – miles away from home.

“All of us are from occupied territories, all of us are refugees from the Donetsk region, but we have to bury him here,” says his sister Khrystyna.

Their mother, Anna, interrupts: “We have nothing; no home, no property, everything is gone, everything, and it’s really terrible that we are losing our children at this age, so young.

“He had a daughter, four years old, she now doesn’t have a father, it’s very hard.”

In that moment I wondered if there would come a time this all gets too much for families like this one, whether their grief is just too overwhelming to carry on.

‘We will not break’

It’s clear they hate this war, but there is a steely resolve.

“We will carry on fighting, what else can we do?” one brother, Ruslan, tells me.

“We are in our home, we never invaded anyone, they invaded us.

“The worst of them came to us, and we are losing our best, the best of us.

“But it doesn’t mean that we will surrender or that we will break at some point – we will not break. As we have seen in the past year, they will fail in their attempt to break us.”

The Ukrainian government does not release figures for the number of soldiers killed in action, but we know it’s in the thousands and is mostly men.

It’s easy to forget many of those who joined up following Russia’s invasion last year are young professionals such as graphic designers, artists, teachers, athletes.

It’s easy to lose count of the sheer number of funerals taking place every day across Ukraine.

In the capital Kyiv, St Michael’s monastery is in many ways a symbol of the country’s defiance. It was built in the 12th century and torn down by the Soviets in the 1930s and now rebuilt.

This holy place gives succour to the families and comrades of those killed in this war that grinds on.

And it is here, and on Maidan Square, that we witness funeral after funeral after funeral. Yet another soldier killed hundreds of miles away in eastern Ukraine in the fierce defence of Bakhmut.

These days, Ukraine’s desire to expunge Russian and Soviet traditions stretches to its funeral protocols.

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The trembita horns are a regular occurrence at services – the instrument comes from the western mountains of Ukraine.

Kneeling as the fallen pass by is a tradition also from the west, a tradition now practised across the country.

At the funeral procession for Dmytro Kotsiubailo, a national hero lauded by President Zelenskyy, thousands took to the street to remember him and all who have died.

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As they wound their way towards Maidan Square, where pretty much all this started in 2014, the shouts of glory to Ukraine rang loud.

Among those gathered was Tetyana Marinchenko, who was carrying a framed photo of her husband who died in this war.

“We’re losing the best of us,” she tells me, a phrase I’ve heard repeated here many times.

Another mourner, Maria, told me the nation has not yet gone through the emotions of losing so many of its young men.

“After victory we will need a long time for crying and grieving for everyone, everyone we lost in this war.”

For now, Ukraine is holding strong, but there is no doubting this nation’s loss is huge and growing by the day.

Its fortitude, and that of the families who have lost loved ones, will be severely tested as the war drags on.

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