Saturday Morning Message: Our Change of Thoughts on Mortality

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

The picture this week shows the sunset over the water. Although I don't live near a lake or the ocean, I do live by a relatively large river. It's one place I like to go to think about questions like the one from this week's Saturday Morning Message about the change of ideas after the death of a loved one.

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In an article from the TAPS Magazine archives, "Hope in the  Heavens," the author, Doug Windley, MDV, wrote, "TAPS refrains from political and religious persuasions, but we promote healthy healing and wellness in the wake of tragedy. This is a hallmark of our mission, and we are committed to the healing of bereaved military survivors. Moreover, we recognize that survivors come from a multitude of religious and faith backgrounds and encourage them to connect with their place of worship to help understand life, death and tragedy." The responses this week were thoughtfully considered and show a variety of introspections. I want to thank those who wrote and those who read this week's message.

I am always looking for more questions for future Saturday Morning Messages. 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 to share 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. 

One suggestion a survivor had was to include a song of the week, which is now a weekly section. If you have a song that is special to you or reminds you of your loved one, please send it along with a sentence or two about what makes this song distinctive. One of our contributors, Andy, father of Danny, makes a playlist on Spotify of the songs that appear in the Saturday Morning Messages along with a few other songs special to him. You can sign up for Spotify for free to listen to the playlist.The playlist is called "Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Songs of Love and Remembrance." I often listen to it while I am on the computer and think of our TAPS family. 

Hugs,
Carol 

QUESTION FOR NEXT WEEK'S SATURDAY MORNING MESSAGE 

Next week's question came from Marsha, mother of Patrick. Recently, I told Marsha in conversation that I was named for my grandmother's sister, Caroline, who brought my father's parents to this country. Therefore, my name is Carol Lynn. We both thought it would be interesting to read how others received their name, so this week's question is: What is the story behind your loved one's or your name?  

  SONG FOR THE WEEK 

James, father of Andrew, sent "Stayin' Alive" sung by the Bee Gees as the song for this week. As Jim was driving, this song came on the radio. Jim writes, "That's the first song that Andy 'sent' to us after he passed. He frequently passes that song along to us at unique and opportune times." 

Answers from Survivors 

From Belinda, mother of Joseph: I have a strong faith in God but was always afraid of the process of dying. Since Benjamin died, I don't want to go anytime soon but am looking forward to seeing him again - after seeing Jesus, first of all. To know I'll spend eternity with Benjamin gives me peace.

Robert, father of Louis: I was not afraid and said, "Bring it on," but when my coronary artery was blocked I took care of myself. It's easier said than done.

From Mary, mother of David: My change and outlook on death, now that my son is no longer here, is with mixed feelings. I can hardly wait to see him again and no longer have this deep sorrow in my life since his passing. I am no longer afraid to die. The negative side of this new feeling is that I do not want to leave my loved ones, my daughter and husband, behind. So the idea of leaving them scares me, and I have mixed feelings about facing death.

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: My thoughts on my death are varied. I have health issues and sometimes am welcomed at the doctor's office by the comment, "You are still alive." Not a great feeling. That said, sometimes I feel like it would be better to go sooner, but I am too feisty to die. We're expecting our 10th grandchild in August, and I have things to teach this little boy! Sometimes I miss my son so much that the grief grips my heart like a vise. I want to be with him so badly, but I imagine this world without me and that feeling leaves.

From James, father of Andrew: For me, I guess the short answer is that now I more strongly believe that we "pass on" when we die. I wasn't a "doubting Thomas," but that understanding is part of the essence of me now, which, as many of you realize, is a transcendent difference. A similarity might be seeing an incredible natural wonder for the first time, like the Grand Canyon. You've seen it before in pictures, in movies and on TV. You believe that it's incredible and awe-inspiring. But none of that compares with or stays with you like when you actually see it and experience it for the first time. As we know, our experiences imprint upon our souls so much more.

I am not "content" thinking about my son's death or my own. But my son has provided me with a unique contentment through the many actions and signs that he shares with us. Andy keeps nudging me to realize that there are so many areas and ideas about which I can and should keep growing - my thoughts about life, death and "passing on" are just a few. I also realize that, for me, there are relevant things to work at accomplishing while here as I try to pay attention to the hand or hands that try to guide us.

From Kitty, mother of John: It makes my own death seem more real, more eminent. The end of life on earth is what each one of us will one day encounter. I don't fear death, as most people do, as I'll be with my Savior, my son, my parents and other family members and friends who were believers. Before John's passing, my husband and I had purchased our gravesite, and set up our living will and trust account. Since then, I've made arrangements with the Neptune Society for my cremation. I have also preplanned my memorial service with a list of songs, hymns and scriptures. It is kept in my Bible. It helps family members to be assured that you will be remembered and honored according to your wishes.


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.