Letters from TAPS: TAPS Seminars

Author: Emily Munoz

 Dear TAPS Family,

When this issue reaches your hands, the holiday season will be upon us. While the rest of the world opens up with holiday spirit, those of us who are not at home in a world of celebration may be tempted to close ourselves off, shield ourselves somehow. Worn down by the powerful, insistent tug of how much is missing, we can feel out of place. We wonder if continuity of tradition will bring us comfort or if our traditions will no longer fit.

Emily Munoz

Every year, as the holidays approach, I am struck by this uneasy harmony between tradition and new beginnings, and am thus drawn to the story of the Magi. They left their homes and followed a star to a strange land, in search of truth and life. In the process, they were irrevocably changed by what they discovered, no longer comfortable with their old ways, and unable to return to their former lives. Their traditions no longer fit.

Regardless of our religious affiliation or lack thereof, this sounds familiar, right? Our lives have changed dramatically-the old world is no longer safe. Our very definition of "home" has changed, too. There has been too much change to simply go through motions that no longer seem to apply. We can't go back to the way things were-the holiday celebrations when our families were whole-and we can't fully embrace the beginning of a new year.

However, we may be able to take comfort in the idea that the season also can be a time of epiphany. According to the dictionary, an epiphany is a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; an event that triggers an intuitive grasp of reality; an illuminating discovery or realization. An epiphany can be an opportunity for us to connect with our TAPS family, to know we don't have to pretend we're okay, to invest in the light that's on the way.

This season, instead of trying to work around it or retrace the way you came to this moment, let your grief lead to an epiphany, by reminding you how this pain connects you to love, how there is a light for every darkness, and how you are still a gift to the world. Keep the traditions that bring you comfort, and adjust the others. It isn't dishonoring your loved one or your family; it's making a change that ensures life.

Our hope is that you will find a true understanding of how much your TAPS family cares about you and is here for you. During the days when you feel least at home in your world, take some time to reach out to TAPS, check our website, and see what we have planned for next year. Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and call us if you need to hear another voice. Plan to dig in and get to know your TAPS family better.

Like the Magi of old, we can't go back to the way we were. But together we can make this new place feel like a safe, if unexpected, home. You are not alone in a strange land. Your TAPS family is sharing this journey.

With warmth and care,
Emily Clark Muñoz
Senior Manager, TAPS Seminars

For more information on TAPS Seminars, see TAPS Survivor event calendar.