The last two weeks we have shared some of the places or events that have given us comfort. It is not easy to communicate to others our special songs or original poems and paragraphs. Through the Saturday message it is hoped that we offer a safe and comfortable site to share and reach out across the miles to other survivors offering care and comfort as well as healing for ourselves.
It has been said that grief is like a roller coaster ride. The emotions go up and down. It might be helpful for us to share some ideas with each other about how we cope when those emotions are difficult. So next week’s question is: What do you do to help yourself when you are having a bad day?
I look forward to reading your replies.
This week’s question: Describe a place that gives you comfort. It could be a specific place or something that helps ease the pain like a walk with a friend.
Karen, surviving mother of Melissa: sent in this quote by Helen Keller which is another way to let others know what has helped us: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
From Shanette, surviving spouse of Andre: After Dre's passing, I moved back to the place where we met (where he's also buried). I thought that the only place I could find comfort would be his final resting place. It was always so relaxing to just go there and sit with him, watch the butterflies, and listen to birds and other various outside sounds. Dre and I didn't have a place we shared together....most of our comfort and togetherness was normally spent on the couch relaxing or traveling out of town.
One day I found myself going to a fishing pier on the nearby base where Dre was stationed when he was in the Marine Corps. In order to get to this pier, I had to drive past his headquarters building. I just knew that was going to be the hardest thing for me to do. In the back of my mind I could feel the tears and the breakdown coming once I got close to the building which was the last place he worked as a Marine, the last place where we shared so many of his crowning achievements.
However, to my surprise, I was calm, cool, and collected as I drove past it. It wasn't actually until I got to the pier and saw how beautiful it was that I broke down. I found a spot on the pier, sat down, and just let it all out. It was a great feeling and I could feel Dre there holding me, telling me it was ok.
As I sat there just thinking about him and missing him I heard a splash. I assumed it was a fish or some hungry shrimp, but then I heard the sound again, and this time it wasn't a splash. It was more like a blowhole sound....I cleared the tears off my face and looked for the sound again. To my surprise I found where it was coming from....a dolphin was swimming by. At that moment I knew for a fact that Dre was definitely there; no questions about it. I knew that if ever I needed to feel comforted, wanted to relax, or find some peace of mind, I could go back to that spot and everything would be all right. I find myself going weekly just to find that peace and alone time with him, and I go monthly sometimes twice a month to have a moment with him at the cemetery (it's like our version of a picnic in the park).
From Leslie, surviving mother of Eugene: Leslie sent the following songs that give her comfort. They are: “When I Look to the Sky” by Train and “Hallelujah” by the Canadian Tenor
From Anne, surviving mother of Michael: I find lots of comfort taking a ride down to the Hudson River to watch the birds flying all around. I think of my son, Michael, flying so very high above the clouds and even though I cannot see him I can feel his spirit all around me.
From Ruth, surviving mother of Jim: Comfort..... at first I wondered what it was or if I could ever find it again. It was something that seemed to have slipped through my fingers. As I started my journey of grief, I did it alone. I took out my machete and tried to cut a new path to the meaning of life. My trails were often lost and left me feeling hopeless and without meaning. I was going nowhere. My roads were rough, dirty, filled with self-pity and loneliness. A warm cup of tea would not ease the pain. Instead I found tears cooling the warm brew that I held in my hands. Friends were a fleeting comfort, but I would soon want their words and hugs to cease, so I could get on with my journey of grief.
It was during one of my down moments that I opened one of the magazines from TAPS. I started reading the first magazine, and was anxious to reach for the next issue....... It seemed as though I could not read fast enough. I found new meaning from others who were traveling this journey of grief. I realized I did not need a machete to blaze a new path. This group that called themselves TAPS had already created a path to follow.
At first I took baby steps and along the way, I would find a bench to sit and rest. Then I noticed that flowers had been planted along the way and God's beauty was showing through. I would stop and admire the beauty of my new path that I had found. As I followed the path I would find others, some resting and willing to give a hug and help, others waiting for a hug and help. Others slowed their pace so they could walk with me...... When I was able, I realized that the greatest gift I had was Jim himself. Through God I was able to put the things that Jim and I did in perspective.
Part of my lack of comfort was thinking of the things that could have been better when Jim was here. I lived with the "if only" thoughts. If only I had talked a little more.... if only I had read a few more stories to him when he was little. We cannot change the past. We can only select the memories we created. Now instead of "if only", I changed my thoughts to "I remember" and it is so much better. I remember the hours that we spent watching Jim play football, raising ducks as pets, his educational goals and so much more. The wonderful warm memories still bring tears, but without blame. Comfort.... knowing Jim loved me and I loved him. We did not always agree but we understood each other.
Now I travel the path with TAPS, my son at my side. The journey is not always easy, but it is eased by my newfound friends. Comfort is now a warm cup of tea, good friends to hug me and quiet times. Thank you for being there for our family.
From Andre, surviving father of Andrea:
“Please just love me for today
and this will help me find another way.
Another way to live thru sadness and loneliness each day
with a glimpse joy and happiness along the way."
From Paula, surviving mother of Cory: I have several places. I have worked out a lot of situations: sitting in the bathtub, my car, and now my back porch watching God's beauty. After Cory passed away, I was invited to be a part of his Texas Army National Guard unit with the Family Readiness Group. I have found so much comfort in working with the other soldiers and especially the ones that worked side by side with Cory. I am on a mission for Suicide Prevention and where better to start than in a Military Unit? I seemed to busy myself so much after Cory passed. His new baby arrived two months after he passed. It has now been 17 months and the grief all caught up with me. The paper work and details are done and I miss him so very much: his contagious smile, the way he laughed (with every bone and muscle in his body), and his sweet hugs and kisses for his Mom! God's comfort comes in so many forms. I am grateful for any and all that he chooses for me.
From Mary-Ann, surviving mother of David: I find the place that gives me comfort the most is our church. I sometimes feel his presence as if he is there to help me along the journey of grief. I've gone to the same church for some 40 years now. Blake was brought up in that church. He served as an altar boy and helped with church projects. When he'd come home, he would take the time to visit his elderly friends some of whom are now shut ins. As he got into his teens he would help his dad with the task of keeping the church grounds up. I know it may sound crazy to some, but I truly feel his presence there. In fact last year on Mother's Day every one of the plants that we gave to the church from his funeral had blossoms on them. It was as if he sent me a gift for Mother's Day!
From Sara, surviving mother of Jessica: When I returned to work after losing Jess, I'd leave the office to sit in a small garden/patio area near the building. I would sit on a small stone wall under a Magnolia tree and write notes to Jess in my journal. It was a way for me to tell her things. Tears ran often and I sometimes spoke out loud to the sky and the heavens. This was a great release and enabled me to get through the days. It will soon be 4 years and I still will sometimes visit the patio and look around and share things with Jess.
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.