Saturday Morning Message: Self Care Part Two

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning, 

Helping yourself when you are grieving may not seem like a priority, but this week survivors continued to share strategies that have helped them take care of themselves during these difficult times. There were so many responses to this question that the replies were carried over for two weeks. Read what others have done to help themselves while honoring their loved ones and chose the ideas that are the most helpful to you. Thank you to all who wrote this week. 

Women looking up

Next week, I hope survivors will write to share locations that hold special memories for themselves and their loved one. Think about an unforgettable place that holds special meaning to you and your loved one. The question for the week is: What is that special spot? Tell us about it. Send your reply to online@taps.org 

Hugs, 
Carol

Self-Care While Grieving 
From Cheryl, surviving mother of Leston: In the beginning, I did not take care of myself. It was too hard. But now I get up each morning and go to work. I am an aide on a special needs bus. These small children need me as much as I need them. This job has meaning and I get the benefits: seeing them smile,  making them giggle, or even just getting a hug. It seems to have given me purpose and a reason to move forward. Now I do take care of me. Some days it is difficult, but I plunge forward. I have a great support system and friends that help. Thank You, TAPS. 

From Robin, surviving mother of Shawn: I promise myself daily to always find the blessing in today that I would not have before me if Shawn was not taken “home." Every day I grieve, but I also praise GOD for the memories I still have and the many blessing that are before me out of that grief. I am blessed to know the stories of so many of our heroes and that is one of the blessings that I count daily. This country has amazing young men and women, and my heart is with all of the Gold Star members. Our heroes lived amazing lives, given from the heart, and we are blessed to remember their laughter, smiles and hugs. Even though we cannot see them, they never leave our sides. 

From Emma, surviving mother of Bradley: I was fortunate to have a group of sympathetic, loving people to gather around my family and me when we were helpless with grief. I let myself be ministered to by them and accepted help where it was offered. One thing that really helps is to allow myself to grieve. In the first days I took all the time off that was available to me from work, cried when it came, stayed up when I couldn't sleep, and slept when I could, trying to think of Brad and all his wonderful ways and the memories we have of him. Focusing on the happy times are good for me instead of thinking about everything we will never have. I talk about him, write about him, visit his grave site, and never try to block it - just let it come. I embrace the moments of acute sorrow as sacred, let them wash over me and then ebb away like waves. Sharing the grief with others who knew and love him or with people who've also lost their loved one is important as well. We are ministering to each other. 

From Leslie, surviving mother of Eugene: The easy thing to do after Eugene died was to crawl in bed and stay there. I could have watched myself turn into a brainless wonder; watched the grey grow out; forgotten about my family, friends, and students. I could have given an excuse to do and be nothing. I chose to live. My heart was heavy, but through the tears I went back to the pool to swim; went to the doctors for my checkups; went to the hair salon to make sure I didn't age badly. I went to my younger son for visits more often. I needed to show him it was OK to smile. 

From Craig, surviving father of Frank: I have started to paint again. I have only painted one other painting since Frankie was KIA and I know he would want me to paint more....and NEVER EVER give up. I also decided to go into business for myself after working in the corporate world for the past 30+ years! We MUST go on! 

From Gloria, surviving mother of Kenneth: I lost my 23 year old son, Kenneth on January 1, 2012. I took six full weeks off from work to try to get myself ready to face what had become for the past 29 1/2 years a fairly regular routine of providing music therapy services to children aged 3-22 with special needs in the school setting. Earlier this month, I co-presented at a music therapy conference on self-care, coming at it from the personal experience of living the trauma of losing a son to suicide. My co-presenter and I have submitted a proposal to present at our national music therapy conference in November. I've started taking digital pictures of all the places around the community where I have special memories of Kenneth -- as well as places I know he enjoyed hanging out with friends -- and those will eventually be in a scrapbook. I have learned to ask for help instead of trying to do so much on my own -- and I'm learning to say "no" more often to requests to do more at work. I have learned how to do absolutely nothing for a period of time (Sometimes for an entire day!) in order to rejuvenate and refresh my physical as well as my mental and emotional self. I'm learning to survive...it is a long, ongoing process. 


Other Items and Events of Interest
 

Caregiver to Survivor Program banner

TAPS recognizes the urgent need to support families who have lost a military loved one after having been a caregiver. The leading cause of death of our military loved ones is reported by survivors to be illness, but we know there are many survivors that experienced a loss after having cared for a loved one who was traumatically injured or diseased as well. 

At TAPS we understand, and we’re here to support our survivors as they navigate a grief journey that may have begun even before the death of your loved one. And, we are mindful of the differences present when someone has been a caregiver before they have transitioned to a survivor. The Caregiver to Survivor Program was developed with this in mind. 

We invite you to explore our resources and encourage you to reach out for support and take advantage of this exciting new program. 

▶▶  Connect With Other Survivors of Illness Loss

Join with other caregivers who supported their loved one through a devastating illness. Honor and share your loved one, the emotions, issues and challenges facing bereaved caregivers. Regardless of the circumstance or geography of the death, you are welcome in the TAPS Caregiver Support Chat. 

Caregiver to Survivor Chat
Wednesday, May 19
8:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Eastern
We hope to see you there!

▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS Family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.


Did you lose your loved one due to an illness?

Illness Loss Survey

If your military loved one suffered with a wound, illness, or injury, please consider taking our new Illness Loss Survivor Survey, so TAPS can honor your loved one through our advocacy efforts. 

If you took the survey last year, we ask that you retake it as we've made important updates. Your response could help shape policy and legislation, and direct future TAPS programs and services. To learn more, email illnessloss@taps.org.


About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).