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.


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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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Celebrating National Mentoring Month

During this National Mentoring Month, we want to express our gratitude for all of our mentors:

  • TAPS Peer Mentors who take their experience as a military survivor and offer support to those new to grief.
  • Military and Legacy Mentors who companion the youngest members of our family, offering a safe and supportive community.

Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn throughout the month, where we will be sharing resources and articles about mentoring, along with quotes and testimonials from our mentors and mentees.

Webinar: Mindfulness as Your Superpower

On Thursday, January 28 at 12 p.m. Eastern, the TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing® will present a free webinar, "Mindfulness as Your Superpower."

Mindfulness isn’t just for naturally calm people. It is a superpower that can help us cope with the most challenging emotions—even grief. Using superhero case examples, during this workshop, you will learn how mindfulness can help you navigate loss, improve your health, and cultivate much-needed compassion for your grieving heart. 

Join TAPS At One of Our 2021 Seminars

Registration is now open for our 2021 Regional Seminars and our National Military Survivor Seminar. In - Person and Virtual Opportunities are available.

TAPS Seminars offer a comprehensive model of care that brings together adult survivors of all ages for a weekend of hope and healing. Whether you recently lost your hero, have lived many years without them or are somewhere in between, TAPS Seminars are designed to meet you where you are in your grief journey. 

Breath of Fresh Air with TAPS Outdoors: Breathing In The New Year

TAPS Outdoors wants to help you reconnect with the natural world in simple yet meaningful ways with weekly activities you can do anywhere. (Yes, we really mean anywhere.) Our goal is to connect you with the healing power of nature no matter where you live and give you the tools to make meaning out of your experiences. 

As many of us have experienced in our grief, a year of great loss and challenge can also give way to new life and hope. Join us in January for Breathing In The New Year, as we transition into a new year and explore the wild, forging new paths together in our hearts and set foot on trails we've yet to see. 

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

COVID-19 Support and Resources

At TAPS, we’re no stranger to challenging times, and we’re all doing our part to support one another and get through these difficult times together. As always, TAPS is here 24/7, and our team is working hard to provide resources, services and support to surviving military families as they navigate the challenges of COVID-19. For more information or questions, visit our COVID-19 Response and Resources page or please email us at

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Choose TAPS as Your AmazonSmile Charity of Choice

AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support TAPS every time you shop, at no cost to you. Visit, 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.  

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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 202-588-8277.