5 Ways TAPS Peer Mentors Can Support New Survivors

Author: Allicia Johnson

No one can fully understand the grief journey in the way a fellow survivor can. Experienced survivors understand the power of peer support; they know the hopefulness of looking to another who has traveled this path and seeing that person surviving and thriving. Having someone who can relate without judgment, someone who can validate that the emotions you are experiencing are OK and that you aren’t, in fact, crazy, is so helpful to finding healing.

TAPS Peer Mentoring

I knew I wanted to help others before I even found TAPS. The TAPS Peer Mentor program was an opportunity to help others grieving a loss and hopefully help them find a little bit of healing. After becoming a TAPS Peer Mentor, I learned there are many ways to support new surviving family members. Here are five ways mentoring makes an impact in the lives of those seeking support in their journey of grief and healing:

1. Offering a safe place to help survivors open up

When a TAPS Peer Mentor reaches out to a new survivor, that survivor may begin to realize he or she has a safe place to talk about grief. It may take some time to build trust, but once the survivor realizes just how safe you are, the floodgates of healing will start to open.

2. Showing them they are not alone

I bet you have heard someone who's lost a loved one say, “My friends and family don’t want to hear about my loss anymore.” Maybe you have experienced that feeling yourself. Peer mentors are the voice outside a mentee’s circle of friends and family who will be there through the roller coaster of emotions that accompany grief. You can be a steadfast companion.

3. Connecting mentees to other TAPS resources

There are so many programs and resources that TAPS provides survivors. As a peer mentor, you can guide mentees to additional TAPS support, such as the Online Community, Casework or National Helpline, that can help them through their grief journey.

4. Getting survivors to a TAPS event

Healing happens at TAPS events, such as retreats and seminars. You probably remember how nervous you were before attending your first TAPS event. Hesitant survivors are more likely to attend and experience connections with others when their peer mentor is there to encourage them. You can simply say, “I’ll be there; we can meet for coffee!”

5. Getting them ready to become a TAPS Peer Mentor

It may take two years, it may take 10, but once a survivor has experienced TAPS, they may desire to serve other families of the fallen. As a peer mentor, you can help bring healing full circle when your mentee becomes a mentor.

If you're interested in mentoring a fellow survivor as a TAPS Peer Mentor, visit our Become a Peer Mentor page to learn more.

From the pen of…
Author/Speaker/TAPS Peer Mentor Allicia Johnson is the surviving daughter of Navy LTJG Burr N. Johnson, III, who died by homicide when she was just 2 years old. Allicia is a health, fitness and chocolate enthusiast who found TAPS in 2015 and was part of the 2017 TAPS Cape Cod Ragnar Team.