This week, survivors wrote to tell how they would support another survivor. We had some wonderful responses and I hope you enjoy them. Thanks to all those who contribute each week.
The writing prompt for this coming week came from this quote: “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” - From a headstone in Ireland
Introduce us to your loved one by telling a story from your cherished one’s life.
These memories can bring tears or laughter and it may be hard to narrow down just one story. In the event we have many responses, please keep your story to one paragraph. We may find that we have to run this question for more than one week and that would be wonderful to be able to share so many stories!
We all look forward to the responses and to meeting your loved one.
Last week’s question: Knowing what you know now, what will you offer to another person who has lost a loved one?
From Lolieta, surviving mother of Evan: We have already reached out to another family when they lost their daughter in a traffic accident. We lost Evan in December 2011. Our friends lost their daughter four months ago. We were all in Boy Scouts together, with Evan and their son both becoming Eagle Scouts. Our kids were all the same age and they live just down the street from us, so we were always together in school and scouting activities. I went to them immediately when I heard of their loss. We held each other so tightly. I knew too well the journey they were beginning. I have helped them through all the emotions they have, and will continue to go through. Every emotion, everything they feel, is normal. They came by just yesterday and asked me about recovery counseling-not that any of us can ever recover. It has helped my husband and me so I recommended it to them. I have sent cards of support on those special days that have come. I will continue to do that. They know I am here to help and support them.
From Theresa, surviving mother of Gene: My son Gene was KIA on 06/22/2012 in Afghanistan. As I go through this journey of grieving, I have found that grief teaches us what's truly important in our lives. Material things don't really matter. Laughing, remembering our loved ones and even giving into the tears and heartache makes us human. That's what matters. God bless you all.
From Frank, surviving father of Joe: I would tell them, "good luck." Why? The loss of your child is beyond belief or comprehension. I would just be there as needed. What a very horrible ride they are in. Good luck is just what it means. I mean it with pure sincerity.
From Barb, surviving mother of Gavin: I would offer them compassion and understanding. I would be there for them no matter the day or time. I would listen to them talk until they could speak no more. I would be the shoulder to cry on. I would just "be there," if that is what they needed.
From Craig, surviving father of Frank: My son was KIA - 16 July 2011. It has been a difficult one and a half years to say the least. My heart is still broken and heavy every day that I go to work. Having said that, my wife and I reach out to parents here in Florida through Gold Star Mothers and family events. Whenever I speak with a mom or dad who has lost a son or daughter I always say this: "Words mean little at this time. I lost my son in the war in 2011. All I can say is if you need me, I am here to listen." It seems like, especially for us men, we simply need someone to be around......someone who is willing to listen. So that is what I do. I listen. I have actually become a better "listener" since losing my son and I have become more empathetic. I have little to offer as far as words are concerned. But I have two good ears to listen with.
From Mary-Ann, surviving mother of David: In answer to this week’s question, I think allowing the person to talk while I just listen is important to them. It was to me. I also think allowing them to cry as they need without telling them not to cry is equally important. Asking how I can help instead of the famous question of "How are you doing" is a good thing too. Sometimes the littlest of things mean the most!
From Andre, surviving father of Andrea: I do a lot of walking and praying in a special park and sit on a bench that is dedicated to my daughter. I need 30 to 40 minutes each day of quiet solitude. I also write in a journal and have started writing a book. I do not even care if it would get published, even though I know it would help people cope with the loss of a loved one. The writing down on paper helps me to release the sadness I feel every day.
From Bob, father of Louis: Vivian and another Gold Star Mother have attended wakes for the local Fallen. They briefly introduce themselves to the parents, give them their phone numbers and tell them that they are available to talk or just be together anytime they need. We have been attending a bereaved parent group for six years now. Although we have learned to cope with our grief, we still attend meetings for the new parents. As soon as I receive training I will be chairing a bereavement group for our church. This group will not require anyone to be a Christian or a believer - just a griever. It's our way of giving back to the thoughtfulness we were shown when Lou was killed.
From Leslie, surviving mother of Eugene: What would I advise knowing what I know after 2 years of being without my son? I would tell them to remind themselves that they are not the only one who suffered this loss. I would tell them everyone grieves differently. I would tell them to talk about their loved one and not to think they can't mention their name.
From Pam surviving mother of Joseph: Hi all. I think the thing that I can offer to one who is in grief is compassion and understanding. Having walked the walk, I can let them know that they aren't alone and they can talk to me anytime about their grief journey. I can give them insight on what to expect along the way like memory loss, suddenly crying, lack of motivation. All of the things that we all have experienced. I have begun sending grief booklets from the Stephen Ministry to friends that have recently lost a loved one. I am only three years out, so I am still struggling myself, but am looking forward to a time when I can do more. God's peace to you all.
From Cassandra, surviving mother of Dan: There is no time clock on grief. Since his passing I have had several friends lose parents and loved ones to unforeseen circumstances. What I have offered is my presence, my patience to listen when they need to talk, and a consistent reminder for them that I am there. And, when the day comes that they are ready to reflect on the whole "time" notion, I will be there. Time does not remove the emotion. But after enough time, we can start to feel our strength again: the strength that our loved one gave us when they were alive. We find ourselves returning to normal things, but every morning thinking of them. Insight does not mitigate grief. Being there, a constant force for someone who is grieving is what I would do. TAPS did that for me in October of 2011 (in addition to my sister) when I did not know where to turn. I hope to take the empathy, sympathy and compassion I feel from this experience and give to anyone who may need it.
The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer based connection, survivors helping survivors, for support and encouragement along the grief journey. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey.
If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 1-800-959-8277.