Saturday Morning Message: Objects That Help Heal

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

This week’s question brought not only responses but several pictures and two songs. This picture of a bear comes from Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew. The bear’s name is Snuffles. She sent it along with a song that is meaningful to her. I placed her writing right below the Song of the Week section, so this week, we have two songs to enjoy.

Snuffles Teddy Bear

I know you will find joy from all the replies this week, so I will keep my comments short and let you go forward. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this 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 

A question came up on one of the TAPS Online Community chats I help moderate. I thought it would make a good question of the week. Your answers may help survivors who have never been to a TAPS Seminar feel more comfortable.The question is: What part of a TAPS Seminar do you enjoy the most? I know that each seminar may be slightly different, but just write what you liked so survivors going to their first seminar know what they might expect. 

♫ Song for the Week 

Since Patricia, mother of Kyle, sent in a response that included a song, I included it as  one of the songs for this week. Patricia wrote, “There are so many things that I carry around. In my wallet, I have two pictures. One when he was a little boy, the other is one of him in his uniform. Then, I have three dog tags that I made with three pictures. One is in his military uniform, one with his fire department uniform and one in his car with his red tee, which is the color he loved the most. On the back of each one has all the information about his life. When he got back from Iraq, he gave me the dog tags that he wore while there. Well, they are around my neck. Any time I feel that my day is not going well and I feel really sad and alone, I look at his pictures and somehow it gives me the strength to carry on. It is like he is telling me, “I know you are going to be all right. I am with you always. I will always love you. In the words of Bob Marley, Mummy, ‘Don’t worry about a thing,’ everything is going to be alright.” 

Answers from Survivors

From Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew: When my twins were 3 years old, I had them in the YMCA nursery school and actually got about two hours on my own for two days a week. Not much time to do stuff, and the stores for shopping were not open until 10 a.m., so it did not fit my schedule.

I often went home and started chores that needed my attention. While I was cleaning out the non-self-cleaning oven, I was listening to a favorite radio station that held contests all the time. The deal was you had to be the first to call in and have the answer to the name of  a song. I grabbed my old phone and kept calling until I got through. I won! The song was “Teddy Bear’s Picnic.” It was one day before the twins’ birthday in November, so I picked them up at school and we headed out to the radio station to get our prize.

It was a beautiful Gund bear, a white, soft little bear named Snuffles — but only ONE!

The DJ had a great and fun time telling the local world, “What is this mom of twins going to do with one bear?”

Of course, it was an expensive bear, so it was time to begin teaching sharing! We shared that bear with assigned sleeping every night for each of them, and I took care of the daily schedule of whose turn it was to sleep with Snuffles. It carried over for years, even up at our lake home in the summer.

When Andy was killed, my Lisa bought three brand new Gund bears, exactly the same as the original, for Bob, me and her to put on our beds each night. None of us could bury that original bear with Andrew. The old and worn out original Snuffles bear now lives with my daughter in Montana! No sharing anymore. Inanimate, for sure, but so special!

From Rita, mother of James: I have a pillow made from a flannel shirt that my son wore. When I'm having a particularly rough day I hug the pillow and talk to my son. I have a bottle of his cologne, and I spray the pillow when the scent dissipates.

Caleb Challenge CoinsDiane, mother of Caleb: I carry a special Challenge Coin in my purse or in my vehicle. This particular Challenge Coin was made to honor my son, Caleb, when his friend/Recon brother started the company Brother Recon in his memory.

From Betty, mother of Michael: I still look back with humor at the first Mother’s Day gift my son, Michael, selected and purchased for me. it was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure. He was thrilled — me, not so much. Although his gift-giving skills improved slightly over the years, I continued to open every gift-wrapped box with the air of suspense.

A couple of years before his death, that all changed. That Christmas, he handed me a small box that contained a pair of simple sterling and diamond cross earrings. He was so proud of himself. He knew I would love them, and I did. I recognized immediately how much thought and planning had gone into the purchase. For Michael, just going to a jewelry counter was very much out of his comfort zone.

Most days, you will find me wearing those earrings. Often, over the course of the day, I find myself touching them as a connection to Michael. They always bring a smile to my face as I remember the smile on his face when he presented them to me.

And, I have to confess, some days, I even get out my old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure — and smile.

From Caryn, mother of Nathan and spouse of Micheal: From the day my son left this earth, I've worn his dog tags. Not sure why, but they bring me comfort. Also, my bedroom is filled with his collections of dream catchers, wolves, dragons and Buddhas. Then there are the unicorns and ladybug items from my husband, along with all the stuffed monkeys he bought me over the years. All of these objects speak to me and add to my peace of mind daily! I stay surrounded by beautiful memories!

Cactus Plant from EugeneFrom Leslie, mother of Eugene: One morning on the way to religious nursery school, my son asked me for 50 cents. I gave it to him. It was near Chanukah and thought nothing of it.

When we got home he presented me with this tiny cactus plant. Now, this is not totally inanimate, but it's meaningful to me and was to him. I have kept this plant and it's gone with me wherever I go. It now flowers. I have had this plant for 35 years. I am sure he giggles in heaven when he sees the flowers. It's over 4 1/2 feet tall now. 


Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS Family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).