Saturday Morning Message: Favorite TAPS Activities
Author: Carol Lane
When attending a TAPS event, many things stand out, but this week survivors were asked to write about some of their favorites. For me, the best part of any TAPS event is meeting in person those of you who participate in the Saturday Morning Message either through writing or reading it. I look forward to connecting with you again.
Questions and songs are the backbone of the Saturday Morning Message. Reading how others have tackled something with which you are having difficulty can be most helpful. Many of us don’t live close to others from the TAPS family, so look at this message as a warm conversation with others from across the country.
I am always looking for new questions and songs, and right now I am running low on both. The questions need to be general enough that all survivors can find the answers helpful.
You can email me at email@example.com. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address.
You can also send any ideas you have to make the Saturday Morning Message more meaningful. 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.
If you would like to send a response to 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.
Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message
The question this week comes from Ellen, fiancée of David. Ellen writes, “People, places and events can affect how we view the world. They can inspire us to participate in activities that we might not have otherwise, take up a new hobby, or uncover a hidden strength or talent. Our paths bring us in touch with others who leave their mark on our lives forever.” So the question this week is: How is your life different because you have been able to connect with others through TAPS?
♫ Song for the Week
The song this week came from Caryn, mother of Nathan. It is “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd with lyrics and a unique guitar solo.
Answers from Survivors
From Ruth, mother of James (Jim): The thing that has impressed me the most about TAPS events is the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony and everything sandwiched in between. I enjoy the first moment you enter where you are greeted with hugs and smiles and a variety of information. Meals shared with others, knowing no matter which table you sit at you are surrounded by friends. Speakers who stand before us and share their stories, helping to heal our hearts. Did I mention the hugs? The feeling of family, the sharing of stories, exposure to what TAPS has to offer. The helpful staff that is always so willing to listen and understands for they have walked your path. Then, of course, there are those wonderful hugs. I have admired the pictures of the men and women who gave their lives for our freedoms and thus are the reason for us to gather together. Seeing the youth smiling and connecting with others, their laughter is delightful. I always wonder what I will learn that will be helpful and TAPS never fails. I have learned so much.
We walk this journey together, and TAPS has made us family. From the youngest to the oldest. We slip and fall, and TAPS is only a moment away. Others slip and fall, and we have, through our relationship with TAPS, learned to gently extend our hand, offer our ear, and to give one of those wonderful TAPS hugs.
From Laura, mother of Nathaniel: The one activity that means the most to me at TAPS events is being with people who “get it” with no questions asked, which is acceptance. There’s an almost instant family bond and the feeling of being home that relieves being alone with discomforts in the “real world.” As Frank Campbell stated in one of his workshops at the TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar, Hope in the Desert, “We stand alone together.” The most vulnerable feeling is grieving the loss of a child, alone, but being among other survivors, there’s solidarity and encouragement. Hope during our personal journey in the desert.
From Leslie, mother of Eugene: My husband and I went to the US Open. We had perfect weather. We saw the No. 1 man and woman play great matches. Who would know that 20 people sitting together wearing red T-shirts all had holes in their hearts from missing their loved one? We all chatted about who we were missing and how they would have loved going to the Open. No one would have known we had the day to celebrate their lives and enjoy ourselves thanks to TAPS.
From Merry, mother of Wesley: I'm attaching a picture of the way we honored our loves ones at the 9th National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar. It was so beautiful and awesome to see all the cacti in hanger pots on display with pictures of each and every service member. We were able to take them home. Wes' survived the trip very well and is set in my dining room in a place of honor — as well as the luminary bag next to it that we decorated and lit on Sunday evening.
Dr. Shauna Springer presented an extremely helpful and insightful message called “Finding Love (Again) After Loss.” The manner in which she guided us through an analogy of our devastating experience of suicide loss was so on target. That opened us up to writing down on note cards what our current feelings are about ourselves at the time of this seminar, and in the second round of note card writing, how we felt about future relationships. She then read the notes to the entire group. She referenced a guide, "Safe People" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. There was a handout entitled “Emotional Safety Assessment” from this guide which has questions to answer about the person one would be dating. I'm making copies of this for my female friends here at home.
I attend the “finding love again” sessions because I am single/divorced and something happened to my love emotions when Wes died by suicide. I am not able to retrieve those dating or commitment areas since he died. I must be thinking in the background that I will love again. All or most of the attendees were widows.
Columbia University presented their recent findings from studies on the overall epidemic of suicide. Although more clinical, this was a helpful resource and we can obtain the powerpoint from TAPS if we want to read it.
To attend Frank Campbell's session is always a must during the weekend. "Finding Hope in the Desert of Your Grief" was, of course, an outstanding message. I loved the title of this TAPS Seminar — "Hope in the Desert." It is often in the desert of our lives, we have to make a decision to seek water; to seek healthy resources and not harm ourselves or others in the midst of our nothingness.