Saturday Morning Message: Handling Paperwork

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

There are two ideas that came to me when I thought about Annette’s question, “What have you done with your loved one’s paperwork?” This picture shows survivors at one of the TAPS seminars, attending a workshop to create pages for a scrapbook about their loved ones. Perhaps each piece of paperwork could be mounted on a page with pictures or drawings pasted around it. Another inspiration came from one of the friends with whom I have coffee every Saturday. He has a large collection of letters sent by his father while he was stationed away during World War II written to his mother. My friend bought a three-ring binder and put each letter in a plastic sleeve. In that way, people can read what is there without harming the original paper. You will read other responses sent by survivors later in the message.

Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message was created so survivors can share questions and read how others respond. By sharing coping strategies, together we become stronger. I am always looking for questions for future messages. 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.

You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. In order to have your reply included in the week’s Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send it to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature.


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message

The question this week is a bit different. TAPS has many events. Some are retreats and others are seminars. Look over the events that have already happened. Think about where you would like to go. The place doesn’t have to be one that TAPS has already done. Maybe you and your loved one talked about going somewhere together or maybe it is someplace you would like to go now. The question this week is: Where would you like to visit if money were not a problem? We are looking forward to reading about your dream vacations next week.

Song for the Week

Caryn, mother of Nathan, sent the song "Imagine" by John Lennon awhile back and I thought it would make a good song for this week.

If you would like to listen to the songs that have been submitted to the Saturday Morning Messages one of our contributors, Andy, father of Danny, makes a playlist on Spotify of the songs that have appeared along with a few other songs special to him. You can sign up to Spotify for free to listen to the playlist. After you sign up, the playlist is called “Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Songs of Love and Remembrance.” I often listen to it and think of our TAPS family while I am on the computer.

Answers from Survivors

From Merry, mother of Wesley: It's been almost five years and I still have Wes' important papers inside the house. I've moved them several times into different places and want them to remain in the house — not in the garage. I just cannot move him out of the house! He is still such a part of me.

I currently have them in my office in a huge, flat container that fits underneath a table, and they will remain there close to his honor wall. I'm thinking of renting out space and need to clean all the bedrooms of my stuff.

When I leave this house — maybe five years from now — I don't know what I will do. Probably keep all of it somehow and move it with me.

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: I have all my son's paperwork. His documents are in my file cabinet in his own colored folders labeled carefully. Other papers and items he kept I figured there must be a reason for keeping them, so I bought a pretty box that locks. I put everything in order and put everything in there. Sometimes I go through the paperwork because it gives me comfort.

From Caryn, mother of Nathan: I would like to tell Annette that I had no problem dealing with all the military paperwork, but to be perfectly honest, it's all still sitting in the bins I stored them in over six and 1/2 years ago. Realistically, I know there is no reason to hold on to them, but my heart is still having a tough time. And it's not just the paperwork, either! There are things I will hold on to for my grandkids, but I'm praying that in time I will be able to make that decision and finally be able to just let go.

From Rebecca, mother of Griffin: I still have all of Griff's paperwork. Even when junk mail comes with Griffs' name on it, I keep it. I also kept Griff's military uniforms and civilian clothes. I parted with some of his civilian clothes to only people who cared about Griff when I was emotionally able to. There's no time limit on parting with loved ones' personals. Personally, I feel like if I were to throw something away with Griff’s name on it, I would be throwing him away like he didn't exist. This is just only how I feel. To me, we each need to do what emotionally feels comfortable.



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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

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, 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

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.