Saturday Morning Message: Handling the Holidays

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

The flickering light of candles in a darkened room always has a calming effect on me. I appreciate the soothing nature of their gentle glow during the shorter days of the holiday season. Listening to peaceful music can also be helpful. This week’s song sent in by Merry, mother of Wesley, will be perfect for those times when my mind is jumping from one thing to another, which often happens during the holiday season.


This week, in addition to the strategies sent in by survivors, there are two TAPS Magazine articles that might be helpful. The first was written by Darcie D. Sims, Ph.D., CHT, CT, GMS, who was a good friend of TAPS and someone who I would like to honor at this time of year as she had so much wisdom and shared it freely with all she touched. The article is Handling the Holidays.The second, Support Yourself & Your Children Through the Holidays by Andrea Hug, MAPC, MPS, LCPC, offers a variety of ideas for those of you who are grieving and have children.

I will collect other ideas to post throughout this season, so feel free to send thoughts you have anytime during December. Your suggestion might just light the way for another survivor.

Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope.

In addition to the ideas shared below, we can also honor our loved ones by communicating with each other through writing. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by sending it directly to In order to have your reply included in the week’s Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send them to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.



There were too many great replies to last week’s question to fit into this week’s Saturday Morning Message, so let’s continue to share: What have you done or are planning to do to make this season less stressful for you? Keep sending your ideas.


From Merry, mother of Wesley, sent in the song “Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep” by Libera, a boys choir from the UK. This is perfect for our coping strategies around the holidays because Merry finds this song relaxing. Merry wrote, “At my son Wes's funeral, his cousin's wife read the poem and I did not realize that Libera set it to music. The whole concert is an hour long. About 26 minutes into the recording, the poem, ‘Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep,’ is set to song and performed by Tom Cully. I frequently listen to the entire hour for a prayerful start to my day.” Listen to the full Libera concert.


From Ed, father of Edward: We have always kept holiday celebrations simple, even more so now. We all get together with our family members to spend time and have a meal together. This is done normally the weekend before the holiday. That frees up everyone to relax and enjoy the day.

From Bob and Kitty, father of John: One of the most significant things we do is shop for a gift for our son, John, who died 7 1/2 years ago. When we decide on one, usually a gift card, we go to our local Army recruiter's office and give it to one of the soldiers on duty. We tell them they must share it with the other soldiers as that is what John would have done.

This year we are giving a gift card to the young Marine chapter here in Santa Clarita instead of the recruiters. We found out today at a gift wrapping for soldiers overseas that no one gives them any gifts, so we thought they could use the card as they all wanted. We talked to their commander and found out this is the greater need.

By doing this, John remains with us, so to speak, and we make several service members have a good day. God bless them for their service!

From Mary-Ann, mother of Blake: I have learned to streamline everything in one way or another. If we are not feeling up to it, I thank those who invite us to parties for thinking of us. We will not be able to go, maybe next year. We don't decorate as much as we used to and would more than likely do even less if not for the grandkids! The first year, I didn't send out any Christmas cards. I just couldn't! We downsized our gift giving, too. Instead of spending money on gifts for us, we spend more to help the less fortunate. As for decorating, that has been cut back, too. I still can't hang Christmas stockings after five years and may never do so again! Food preparation has become a family event instead of me doing all the cooking. We split the task among us. Our children, who all have families of their own, and other family members bring a side dish. My husband and I do the main dish and desserts. In the past I did it all! Everyone helps in the clean up, too, instead of it all landing on me.

From Robert, father of Louis: The second Sunday in December is National Children’s Memorial Day around the world. At 7 p.m. in each time zone, parents light a candle to commemorate their child. Our group has a memorial observation which includes readings and appropriate music. Vivian and I have attended for the last nine years. The service can be sad, but somehow we find that it eases the sting of our loss. I guess it's the fellowship of parents. Some siblings come to support their parents to share this burden.

Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


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

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).