Saturday Morning Message: Pet Support

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

Sharing your space with a pet can be very rewarding. Just having your pet cuddle up next to you when you are feeling down can be uplifting. Pets help us in so many ways. This week, I thought I would write to tell you about my two dogs, Fiona and Henry. Fiona is the dog on the carpet, and Henry is the one on the couch. They are both Scotties who are more like humans than animals. They sit by me when I watch television or moderate the TAPS chats. Fiona even lies beside me in the computer room when I write the Saturday Morning Message and answer emails. They let me know when it is time to take a break and get a cup of coffee by barking at me to let them out. In the summer, I take my coffee outside to sit on the porch with them for a little while. They have been doing that for a long time, and I don't know what I would do without them. 

Carol's DogCarol's Dog

TAPS has always had a therapy dog at the TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp, and I am sure there will be at least one there this year. They are always surrounded by a group of survivors as they cuddle up with those who need their support. 

On the TAPS Facebook page recently, there was an article about a puppy being trained by a mortician to help people who are grieving in Austin, Texas. Here is a video that explains how this dog is supporting the bereaved: "Puppy Helps People Grieve Through Tough Times." 

Dogs aren't the only animals to help those who grieve. Klinger is a horse owned by the United States Army and works with the Cassion Platoon of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). He works to help those who are grieving. There is a wonderful children's book written about him titled "Klinger, A Story of Honor and Hope," by Betsy Beard and illustrated by Shelley Johannes. 

I am looking for more questions in order to keep the Saturday Morning Message fresh. If you have questions or topics you would like to see addressed in the Saturday Morning Message, you can email me at online@taps.org. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. In addition to replies that are placed in the message, I also look for thoughts you have. You can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. 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. 

Hugs,
Carol 

QUESTION FOR NEXT WEEK'S SATURDAY MORNING MESSAGE 

The question this week is philosophical. It comes from Annette, mother of Joseph, who asks, "How has your outlook on your own death changed since the loss of your loved one?" She adds, "At the National Seminar last year, more than one person said to me, 'I am not afraid of death'. I feel the same way since losing Joe and wonder what others feel. I also find I am more certain of an afterlife." There is no right or wrong answer to this question. We look forward to reading what others think. 

   SONG FOR THE WEEK 

Caryn, mother of Nathan and spouse of Micheal, sent the song this week, which is "Standing By" sung by Pentatonix. Caryn wrote, "I love this song. It says, to me, that love is eternal. As I wait to be with them, they too are standing by waiting for me!" 

ANSWER FROM SURVIVOR 

Betty's DogsFrom Betty, mother of Michael: Upon the news of my son Michael's death, our terrier-mix dog followed me everywhere in my home. She stared at me with her piercing eyes as if trying to understand my abject sorrow. Her occasional nudges for attention seemed to be a demonstration that she wanted to share some of my heartache, but I was unwilling to lend her any. It seemed nothing could appease the pain of loss.

Several months later, we were finally able to bring Michael's 85-pound "puppy," Athena, into our home. She is a piece of him that we cherish every day. One morning as I was walking our menagerie of three dogs along our country road and praying to God, I looked at Athena's wagging tail and thought about how happy she was in her new home. No sooner had that thought transpired when I felt the Lord reassuring me of how happy Michael was in his new home.  

It took a wagging tail to bring me peace and proper perspective.


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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This Summer, Youth Programs is hosting TAPS Good Grief and Family Camp at Home through August 28. Each week, there are activities and challenges you can complete individually and as a family. Missed a week? No problem - all activities and challenges from previous weeks are available online. Join us for opportunities for you and the kids to connect to mentors and other families through Zoom sessions.

Make plans to join us for our next Virtual Military Survivor Seminar, August 21 and 22. We have new, dynamic sessions available throughout the weekend at no cost, with all of the resources, care and love we can offer, coming to you in the comfort of your home. We'll also have Share Groups, our facilitated support groups, where you can meet other survivors with similar loss experience. We look forward to seeing you online soon!

Save the date! Please join us for the Military Survivor New to Grief Seminar, once per week from September 3 to 24. Together we will work toward two primary goals. First, we will grow deeper understandings as we deconstruct myths about grief, explore the cognitive and physical impacts of grief, and seek to establish a helpful language around our own experiences. Second, we will establish community among our peers so that we have others who have a strong desire to accompany us as we continue navigating the ups and downs of our loss and grief.

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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 before August 18th, 2020, 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.

Have you lost your job, or have reduced work hours? Or are otherwise affected by COVID-19? 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. Tell us more.

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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.