Saturday Morning Message: Thankful Thoughts and Holiday Tips

Author: Carol Lane

Weathered TreeGood Morning,

As 2016 comes to a close, it is time for many of us to look at where we are now on our grief journey and what has helped us. This week, survivors have shared what they are thankful for in their own lives, and TAPS has pulled together resources on the TAPS website to assist survivors during this time from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day.

You can read some tips for handling the holidays along with other resources and holiday articles when you go to the "Holiday Grief Tips" webpage.

Here is a shortened list of the holiday wishes from TAPS that you can read on the Holiday Grief Tips page:

  • Holiday Wish #1: We Wish for you to be Authentic this Holiday Season - resist the temptation to feel guilty for not being happy
  • Holiday Wish #2: We Wish for you to be Congruent this Holiday Season - be the same on the outside as you are on the inside
  • Holiday Wish #3: We Wish for you to be Gracious this Holiday Season - with yourself as you identify why you are angry and then gracious with others
  • Holiday Wish #4: We Wish for you a Fruitful Memory this Holiday Season - as you honor your loved one and what they mean to you
  • Holiday Wish #5: We Wish for you Health this Holiday Season - it is OK to seek help

I hope you find comfort reading the Saturday Morning Message as we continue to support each other.

Questions are the   backbone of the Saturday Morning Message. If you have questions or topics you would like to see addressed, you can email me at You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them. Replies to the weekly question are best sent to me by Tuesday afternoon. You are an important part of this message, and I look forward to your questions or any ideas you may have. 


Question for Next Week's Saturday Morning Message 

Merry, mother of Wesley,  wrote that she is having a hard time deciding how to approach going back to work after the loss of her son, so she wanted some thoughts from others. Her question is, "How have survivors approached going back to work after the loss of their loved one?"

♫ Song for the Week

Merry, mother of Wesley,  also sent the song this week titled "Not Right Now," sung by Jason Gray. The song was written about a house burning down, but as Merry wrote, the words are "very powerful and are very true for the grieving." The repeating lines saying, "I know someday. I know somehow. I will be OK, but not right now," are particularly appropriate for this season.  

Answers from Survivors 

From Donna, mother of Eric:  My first reaction to this question was: Nothing! How could I be thankful for this grief?! But I quickly realized I have plenty to be thankful.  

First, we were on great terms at his passing. We'd been on great terms the whole deployment.  But, I think we could have easily had a little spat or a disagreement on anything. I'm thankful we never did during deployment.

I'm thankful that my last letter to him was to tell him how proud I was of him.  

I'm thankful he had the best group of Marines with him, who loved him like family. This group continues to honor him and love us. They come to visit us, two moved here and one maybe  moving here soon.

I'm thankful that our house was the gathering place for all of his friends in high school. We set up a game room, had a pool and a hot tub and welcomed them all. Feeding them all was a challenge that we accepted gladly in exchange for the peace of mind knowing who he was with, where he was and what he was doing (most of the time).

I'm thankful that I taught his friends during his senior year. I got to know and love them. They feel very comfortable with me because they know me.  

So, if I have to be on this journey of grief, I've got the best group of kids (young adults) remembering him, honoring him, loving him, missing him and continuing to keep his name and legacy in this world. That, I am truly thankful for, very humbled by and feel very blessed.

From Belinda, mother of Benjamin:  I am thankful for a lot of things. Most important is that God never left my side in the Holy Spirit even when I couldn't feel Him because the pain was so great. Next, for the people He placed to help me - my husband, my TAPS mentor (I absolutely love her), my friend here and my two brothers. My church family prays for me, but these people absolutely hold me up.

Most importantly, I have the assurance I'll see Benjamin again one day.

From Leslie, mother of Eugene:  First, I am thankful for the 33 years I had with my son. After he passed I became thankful for his friends, especially the ones who keep in touch with me. I have learned much more about my son through their stories and from reading my son's military records. I am grateful and proud of all of them as their stories have given me great comfort.

Rebecca's Dog Alexa From Rebecca, mother of Griffin:  I am most thankful for the annual TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar every year. This is one place I actually belong. The website where we can openly talk also makes a difference. We don't have to keep anything inside.

I have found that my true family friends are the ones who include Axela, my dog, and me as their family for holiday observances or invite Axela and her human over just for the heck of it. That means I can talk about Griff, my much-loved and much-missed son.

From Annette, mother of Joseph:  My friends, family and TAPS community are what have made me most thankful on my grief journey. Speaking about Joe, hearing stories about him and never being pressured to do anything I am not comfortable with is what I am grateful for. I am blessed to have had Joe for 30 years, although, of course, every moment I wish it was at least 30 more.

From Robert and Kitty, parents of John:  Our son, John, died on April 10, 2008, at his home in Colorado Springs early in the morning. Since then our grief journey has been a journey we had not planned on.

While he was deployed as a combat medic in Haiti and for two tours to Iraq, we were constantly on edge for fear that he may be killed. Strange as it seems, his death drew us to TAPS, and to Peer Mentoring. This led us to Grief Share at our home church for the last five years, leading groups that have lost sons and daughters from stillborn to 53 years old.

We are most thankful for TAPS and the TAPS family who have supported and encouraged us, and thousands others, on our journey through grief, enabling us to comfort others as Peer Mentors.

From Caryn, mother of Nathan:  My grief journey began in December 2002 with the unexpected death of my only brother. Nine years later that journey became more complex after the deaths of my son and husband. I am most thankful that my daughter has been right here beside me as our journeys travel closely. Having her, the only one left who has shared so much of my life's journey, has been a blessing! There is one more thing that I'm grateful for, and that would be the fact that I haven't lost my sanity after all I've gone through and I continue to learn more about myself daily. I'm constantly amazed, but also thankful that I'm still here and still very much alive!

From James, father of Andrew:  What has made me most thankful on my grief journey is not just believing, but coming to a real understanding that our son, Andy, is still around. He is not around in ways I ever could have considered or expected, but I really sense that he's OK with where he is now. I guess that I need to be OK with it and more than that, I can be OK. He shares quite often with me and with us - in ways that are uniquely him and in ways that nudge me on this life path along which I will be able to continue. We don't get to pick what it is or when he shares, but I'm sure part of that is so I really understand that it is him, and that I contemplate more thoughtfully on the importance of those moments. He would walk along and reach up just to hold my hand and in the process melt my heart and soul. It is oh, so different now, but I'm glad to know that he is there with me and with us, and that he realizes the special things he does still are so special and meaningful.

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


▶▶  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.

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).