Saturday Morning Message: A Different Path
Author: Carol Lane
There were many interesting responses to Sarah's question this week. The idea of the question was to share what you are doing since the death of your loved one that you didn't expect. All of the responses talked about honoring loved ones by helping others or dedicating work to the communities that supported their families in the time of need. This week there was also a great blog on the TAPS webpage which answers this question. If you haven't read it, here is the link: "Two Brothers' Mission: Pay It Forward" It is written about a fundraiser for TAPS that two brothers initiated. Many of us have found a twist in our life's journey, but I think you will be inspired by the variety of ideas that celebrate the lives of our loved ones.\he question for next week came from Sasha, who is new survivor. She wanted to ask: "What is the best piece of advice to work toward healing that you received after the death of your loved one?" You can also look at this question from a perspective after time has passed and write what have you done that has helped you most. We look forward to the answers to Sasha's question.
If you would like to send a response to the question of the week or have a subject you might want to hear responses from other survivors, email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you anytime about anything. It doesn't have to be a reply to the Saturday message. Sometimes just writing to someone is helpful.
FROM TAPS SURVIVORS:
From Robert and Vivian Allen, parents of Lou: When Lou was killed and after the initial one year shock wore off, Vivian and I planned to fund a scholarship in his name at the Chester H.S. Our daughters said that it was a good idea, but remembering how our community responded to us, we expanded the 1LT Louis Allen Scholarship and Community Foundation in order that we might pay our community back for all their love and support. We have one fundraiser per year and use the proceeds to fund a $1000 scholarship and then support food pantries, veterans' causes (including the Honor Flight), Big Brothers/Sisters, Project Safe Homes (spousal abuse protection, emergency housing and any other important issue that may arise. We also partner with our church and facilitate a bereavement group for those who lost a loved one. Helping others has actually helped us. Lou's name is out there and his sacrifice won't be forgotten in our lifetime.
From John, father of Jonas: We started The Jonas Project in his honor. We help veterans start and grow their own business over the first two years of its existence with wonderful mentors and some financial help (0% loans they pay back when they become profitable - not on a set time table). We also are very big in collaborating with anyone we can find to help our Warrior Entrepreneurs. We are all volunteers - no paid staff. The Jonas Project is not about charity, we are about accelerating the empowerment of our nation's most powerful natural resource. Our Warrior Entrepreneurs will drive the economy for the future, standing with them is simply good business for America.
From Barb, mother of David: I have become more generous and giving to my favourite charities. My son was very generous. I have also changed my feelings about my job. I want to do something more meaningful, but haven't figured that all out.
From Mary-Ann, mother of Blake: I had to ponder on the question for the week. I know that life as it was is certainly not what it is any more. I know I'm not the same person that I used to be in many ways. I see things differently and many things that used to be important to me aren't so important any more. One thing that I'd never thought I'd be doing is honoring Blake's memory and that of all our vets by organizing and sponsoring the Stars and Stripes Patriot Walk/Run each September to raise money for scholarships for our local children. It's a lot of work and something I'd never worked on or thought I'd be working on in years past. I feel Blake would be pleased that I have made something good come out of our unthinkable loss. I owe it to him to do something to help others and that is what he'd want me to do.
From Anne, mother of Michael: Since I lost Michael I have become very involved in helping the military. I have gotten so much stronger in my life and this is the best path to make my life a better one! I am always challenging myself to make this world a better place to live in until the good Lord decides to take me where I will join my son!
Bob and Katherine, parents of John: First and foremost, we never imagined losing a child before our own deaths. It is not in the "natural order" of things. But that said, since we are now a Gold Star Family; we are truly thankful for TAPS. We are involved with the TAPS National Seminar in Washington, D.C., TAPS regional workshops, and most importantly, peer mentoring other Gold Star mothers and grandmothers. We assist, when asked, with the Army Support Outreach Services (SOS) in Southern California. We are involved as leaders in Grief Share to families who have lost a child in our local community on Wednesday evenings at our home church. We are also active in the local Blue/Gold Star Mothers, and Prayer Angels For the Military. Bob is involved with Gold Star Dads in SoCal.
From Lisa, mother of Michael: It was our son Michael's wish to give to his country by becoming an officer and then return home and give back to his community. Losing him to war took that chance away, but once we were able to pick ourselves up and step outside of the fog, we decided his wish would live on. Our family established the Spc Michael R Demarsico Scholarship Foundation. Each year we will give two $1,000 scholarships to students pursuing a career in Military/criminal law. This past year, we also chose four families to sponsor for Christmas which was Michael's favorite holiday. We will be giving back to the community with other financial gifts as they present themselves. Michael's name will live on and his dream will stay alive. That is our gift to him and to ourselves, because helping others helps us. There is a 5k road race on Veterans' Day as well as a golf tournament in the summer run by dear friends and family that will help us to keep the dream alive for years to come.
Edward and Carol, parents of Bryon: In addition to my work at TAPS, we maintain a garden that our community created for the three service members who have died from our town. There is a monument in the garden as well as stone benches looking over the river in which they all swam. It is a beautiful place to sit and contemplate. Since it is on the Appalachian trail, we find many people sitting there during the summer. We are fortunate to work on this project with the significant other of one of the servicemembers who is a master gardener. In that way, we learn as well as work and create something of beauty for our town.
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. Content submitted for inclusion in the SMM is edited for spacing considerations and grammatical corrections.
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.