TAPS Issues Tips for the Public Seeking to Express Sympathy or Support for the Families of Those Who Died in the Navy Yard

Author: TAPS

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), issues the following statement:
We are saddened by the loss of life and injuries in a shooting incident at the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington D.C. yesterday. TAPS stands ready to assist families and friends who have lost a loved one. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the families whose loved ones died or were injured.

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Because of the support of the news media in distributing the TAPS 1-800-959-TAPS (8277) resource and information helpline to the public during this terrible tragedy, surviving families of those who died yesterday are already engaging with TAPS for bereavement care and support.

TAPS has a memorandum of agreement in place with the U.S. Navy to provide bereavement support to the families of those who die in service to America. Just as we did after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, TAPS will provide support and care for the families of Department of Defense civilian workers or defense contractors who died in this terrible tragedy. All of them were on duty for America yesterday.

vTAPS asks the public and the media to be sensitive when approaching survivors of the fallen or injured for comment. Grief, sorrow, pride, and shock are often co-mingled. TAPS offers the following tips for those seeking to express sympathy and support to the families of those who died:

Be understanding. Surviving families are in tremendous shock in the immediate days and weeks following the deaths of loved ones. Understand that families may need to focus on important decisions about funerals, memorial services and a host of details. The family may not be able to respond to you right away or express their appreciation for your thoughtfulness.

Respect privacy. Grieving families who have experienced the traumatic death of a loved one especially need their family and friends around them. Allow them the privacy and space they need to get through what are going to be difficult days.

Think beyond flowers and food. Often bereaved families will be overwhelmed by gifts of food and flowers.  Sometimes families will specify a charity or organization that their loved one supported and find this type of donation particularly touching.

Send a message. A card or short letter can express your sympathy and stand as a reminder to a grieving family of your caring concern. Simply express your condolences. If you talk with a family member, say you are sorry for their loss, or say you want to offer your condolences. That’s enough. Avoid saying things such as “I understand exactly how you feel,” or “It was his (or her) time,” or “He (or she) wouldn’t want for you to be sad.”