Saturday Morning Message: How Does Grief Affect Your Work?

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

This picture is a flower from a cherry tree in Washington, D.C.,  taken this past March by Benjamin Shaul, who is a friend of Kelly, sister of Samuel. I wanted the readers of the Saturday Morning Message to be able to gaze at it while they listened to the beautiful song of the week that Mikiko, spouse of Demond, contributed.

Cherry Blossoms

Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing online@taps.org.  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 them to me by Tuesday of the following week.

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. These thoughts are always greatly appreciated.

Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.

Hugs,
Carol

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message

Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew, wrote about a gift to herself. Bonnie Jo said, “I thought really hard last year around the new year timeframe about giving back and how I could do it. I decided to investigate the TAPS Peer Mentor program and delightfully found I could take a course or two online and be interviewed and maybe, just maybe, become a mentor. I did it. It was not as hard as I thought it would be, and I have been delighted to be a part of the program and writing opportunities. It is a gift to myself and many others.”

As we come to the end of the year it is time to ponder what we can do for ourselves. Her question is: “What are your New Year's resolutions for yourself? I found that having a goal is great, but even more important is breaking it down into manageable objectives, maybe on a two-month timetable. If you do not try you will never know the outcome.”

Song for the Week

Mikiko, spouse of Demondsent this week’s song of the week. Mikiko wrote, “The song is called 'HANAMIZUKI (Dogwood Flower ).' I started to love this song after my husband passed away. It always makes me cry, but this is such a beautiful, sad and, at the same time, strong song.

The artist made this song for all the victims of 9/11. I didn't know about the flower, so I checked the meaning of it. It means 'durability and love undiminished by adversity.'

The Sakura, or cherry blossom, and dogwood flower are symbolic of friendship between America and Japan. There are famous Sakura trees along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. They were a gift from Japan, and in return, the U.S. government presented dogwood trees to Tokyo.”

She attached both the Japanese and English versions of the song.

Original (Japanese) version

English version

Answers from Survivors

This week’s question about explaining to an employer the emotions of grief and how it may affect your work performance brought in a diversity of responses.

Carol, mother of Bryon: I was fortunate. I was teaching fifth grade at the time. Bryon’s death was in July, and I had several weeks before returning to work full time. The hardest thing for me was when something triggered tears. I went to my principal and asked if a paraprofessional could be assigned to my classroom for a few weeks, and he said that could be arranged. Somehow just knowing that support was there was all the help I needed.

Leslie, mother of Eugene: Most employers understand a couple of days of grief/sadness in the office. Past that, they have a business to run. They expect that during business hours you are as productive as ever. This means you become an Academy Award-winning actor while at work. The minute you leave you can cry, scream, etc.

Merry, mother of Wesley: My employer has been myself for the past five years. I'm thinking of getting a seasonal, part-time job outside my sewing studio. I don't know how I would let my employer know about my grief process and how a job affects it. I'm a little worried about my capabilities to be employed and what situations it's going to bring. This worry has made me very hesitant to even look for a job. I should just go for it.

Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew: Keep it low key. Hurtful as it is, your employer has his or her job to do. It has nothing to do about uncaring, but it does have to do with a work environment and that is what your employer is concerned about.

Do something for yourself in order to get through the holidays and let the rest go.

It is hard to realize that our times of grief are personal and often not understood by a lot of our acquaintances or employers. If you have or need to take time off, do so!

I  found a good article about an innovative company on the TAPS Facebook page titled, “Having Time To Grieve Shouldn’t Be A Luxury,” which describes a company where employees can anonymously give some of their paid days off so when the need arises, others may take the time they need. That would be one way of having the employee benefit while not interrupting the business of the company. This might be something to bring up at your job.


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.