Saturday Morning Message: Making Friends at a TAPS Event

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

Coming to a TAPS event alone can make us wonder how "we will fit in, how we will be treated, and what the event will be like". That was the question last week and many have written to say they will be waiting for this week's answers. Some who answered this question talked about attending a TAPS event and others addressed going out socially after the loss. In the Spring 2014 edition of the TAPS Magazine, there is an article, "Attending TAPS Events: Encouragement for the Newcomer", dealing with exactly this question. The article has answers from other survivors adding more ideas to the ones in this week's message. Thanks to all who responded to this week's question and those who read the Saturday Morning Message.

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The discussion topic for next week came from some newer survivors: What are some ways other survivors honor their loved ones? Since those who most often ask the question are new to the journey, what are some things you have done that don't take a lot of emotional energy?

I invite you to respond to this week's question or share a topic you would like to ask the group by sending a message to carol.lane@taps.org.  I would love to hear from you anytime about anything. Sometimes writing to someone can be helpful.

Hugs,
Carol

⇛The newest way to keep in touch with the TAPS Online community is through Twitter. We will be posting times for chats and other Online community events that might interest you.  You can find us by clicking on this link - TAPS_Chat. If you don't have a Twitter account, you can make one through this link.

FROM TAPS SURVIVORS:

♫ Mary-Ann, mother of Blake sent the song for this week. Kate Smith was a radio and TV personality in the United States particularly known for her rendition of God Bless America composed by Irving Berlin. In a walk back in history, Mary-Ann sent this link which includes an introduction of the song by an announcer as well as the song's introduction sung by Kate Smith which is not usually included when singing the song in modern times.

From Rebecca, mother of Griff: You will not be alone. When I went to my first TAPS seminar, I was greeted with warmth and many hugs. You can sit anywhere you want and soon realize that we all have one thing in common. Our hearts hurt, because our much loved servicemembers are not on earth anymore...but in Heaven's Military. When you register online, please write your concerns about sitting by yourself and eating alone. There is only understanding at the seminars. We are never alone, because we are free to express all of our feelings.

From Christine, mother of Adam: Everyone was so nice. I went to eat and ordered it to go. Even the waiter asked me if I was sure I didn't want to stay. The picture I had of Adam was so  crumbled, but they really worked on it and had a  button for me the next day. Everyone tried to get me to at least stay for lunch, but I was panicking. I was the last one to enter this whole room. I sat beside a mentor, and she was so nice. Very loving room full of people.

From Ruth, mother of James: This is such a hard time...  you don't know how people will react to you... somehow you suddenly feel like everyone is staring and whispering.... you feel so different....  you worry about someone seeing a tear in your eye....  I found that I had to put all of these things in a box...  an empty box that sat on my dresser and still remains there.  I don't use it as often these days, but in the first steps of my journey it was opened a lot.  The bottom of the box has a picture of my son attached to it.

Walking into a room for the first time is hard, but I found that if I went up to a group of people I found so much love and warmth.  Each time I would go into a room, I would imagine what was going to happen, but I could hear my son saying, "Mom, these are your friends.  Let them embrace you.  Let them know that you are still my mother and you still want to talk about me, to learn new things about me and know that they will never forget your little blond haired boy.  Most of all remember that they too will need your love and support when they suffer a loss.  It is always good to repay a kindness."   

Each time I would go out I would open my box.  It seems as though the young boy that I loved so much was pushing me forward...  I know that he would not want me to put myself into a box, so I cherish the time that I spend with others.  You see I feel as though my son is sharing the wings that he has earned in heaven to lift me up and inspire me to go on....

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: I was a single parent for many years and always felt awkward coming to an event alone. I found that you just sit with a group and start talking. People are usually very nice. I found after I lost my son, people didn't know what to say. A big smile from me usually broke the ice. Sometimes I would add that Eugene would have enjoyed the wedding or whatever. That relaxes people as well.

From Merry, mother of Wesley: The only event from TAPS I've attended was at Fort Carson last year.  I would have to say, I never felt alone or unaccounted for even though I did not know anyone.  Paul took me by the hand and made sure I was immediately in contact with a friend of his family.  My mentor, Angelika was there in the evening, but I can't remember if she was there during the day.

The break-out session was good although I did not know anyone in that group either.  I felt we were all in the same boat and have a story to tell.  My personality points me in a direction that keeps me alone at times, but I'm not intimidated to step up and introduce myself.  I am not sure everyone feels that comfortable in groups where they do not know people.


UPCOMING VIDEO AND TEXT CHATS
 

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Visit the TAPS Online Community Calendar for this week's schedule of text and video chats and other offerings. We have a virtual gathering most days of the week. Whether you want to share your story or just read how other survivors are sharing and coping, this online grief support community is a way for you to develop and strengthen your connections with TAPS.


Other Items and Events of Interest
 

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#ListenLearnLove 

The TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar is going virtual. Held October 16-18, you will hear from others who have walked the road you are traveling. Sessions will offer vital information on anxiety, loss and family dynamics, talking to children and more. The grief that follows suicide loss can be uniquely complicated. You are not alone, and we invite you to join us for a time of hope and healing. 

Celebrating 20 Years of Team TAPS 

For 20 years, Team TAPS has honored our heroes and raised awareness and funds to support the TAPS mission. This year, in celebration of our 20th anniversary, we are coming together to create a virtual movement. We will walk, run, bike, swim, and row - find ways to move in honor of our loved ones. We will gain strength, go the distance, and encourage each other. Join us for this adventure

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

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We're all in this together

Have you lost your job or have reduced household income? How has the pandemic made an impact on your life? If you are grieving the death of a loved one, and their life included military service, we'd like to hear from you.

Your feedback will be used to improve TAPS programs and to communicate survivor needs to donors and stakeholders. Please share how COVID-19 has impacted you by taking our survey.

 

Did you lose your loved on due to an illness loss

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

Those who take either survey will receive a discount to the TAPS store for providing this important and valuable feedback.
 

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AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support TAPS every time you shop, at no cost to you. Visit smile.amazon.com, log in, and select TAPS as your charity of choice. Amazon will give 0.5% of your eligible purchases to TAPS.


About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the Saturday Morning Message is to foster peer-based connection for support and encouragement.  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 Saturday Morning Message is edited for spacing considerations, grammatical corrections and may be used in other TAPS publications.  

To subscribe or contribute to the Saturday Morning Message email online@taps.org.

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 800-959-8277.