Saturday Morning Message: Activities to Deal with Grief

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

Dealing with our loved ones not being here can be isolating and lonely. Activities can not only help your grief but also create a way to show others that it is all right to share memories of your loved one.

Some survivors find something about which they are passionate and do that to honor their loved ones. Others find it difficult to decide what to do. I want to highlight two places on the new TAPS website to give you some ideas. The first is the Online Community page. Here you can read the archives of Saturday Morning Messages and find other ways the Online Community can help ease the loneliness. The second helpful resource is the Articles section. There you will find many blogs written by survivors and professionals, in addition to the Saturday Morning Messages.

Saturday Morning Message

This week’s picture came from one of the blogs, “Active Remembering” by Allison Gilbert. The article lists some ways to keep your loved one’s memory alive. One of her suggestions includes the use of daffodils as an easy way to open a conversation about your loved one with others. Later you will read how other survivors deal with their grief in a positive way.  

Questions are the backbone of the Saturday Morning Message. In order to keep the Saturday Morning Message fresh, I am looking for more questions. 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.

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.

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 if you have 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.

Hugs,
Carol

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message

Saturday Morning MessageMarcia, mother of Patrick, wrote, “I started collecting ceramic, wood and glass turtles in all sizes because my son's nickname was Crazy Turtle.”

Marcia also included a picture as an example of her turtle collection.

So the question this week is: Have you started a collection that connects you with your loved one? We look forward to reading about other survivors’ treasures.

Song for the Week

The Song for the Week is a little different today. Leslie, mother of Eugene, wrote to say she will be in Washington, D.C., from Aug. 2 to Aug. 7. She is a competitor in the Washington International Piano Arts Council piano competition. She sent one of the songs, “Liszt Sonetto 104,” that she will be playing. Although this song is from YouTube and not her playing, we can enjoy it as if we were there. Leslie said she chose this piece because, “It's an amazing piece that I love performing. It's reminiscent of my son: tough and in your face when you first meet him only to find he is a mush at heart.”

Answers from Survivors

From Bob and Kitty, parents of John: We have stayed connected with John’s wife and two stepsons. In fact, we're moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to be closer to his widow and help her move forward on her journey to a new normal.

A couple of our son's fellow classmates keep us in the loop. A dinner was held to honor John's memory and celebrate the life of another classmate who died. They suggested a memorial scholarship at their high school and came up with fundraisers. The first John M. Conant Memorial Scholarship was awarded this year to a student entering the Marine Corps.

We continue to honor his life on his birthday, anniversary and death date. We look forward to when we'll be together again laughing and rejoicing in heaven.

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: To deal with my son's death — that he's not here anymore — was and still is an adjustment. You learn to live a new normal by creating new memories. You celebrate holidays and other events differently than before. You include your loved one by sharing stories, but you are starting new ways of doing things. It's not easy, but it keeps the depression at bay.

Saturday Morning MessageFrom Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew: One of the things I did when Andy was killed was to start a painting of a photo of him that I got from his team in Afghanistan. I have to say it took me close to six years to get it done. I am not a professional artist, for sure, but the photo was so wonderful that I had to draw my version of it and paint it using watercolors and pastel chalk. I was so glad that I could get the sunglasses to look authentic because seeing his eyes would have been too much.

So much happened since he died, huge life changes for me and his father, so life got crazy between all of the events we attended for Andy, selling our homes, remarrying and moving to Pennsylvania. About one year after we moved here my husband suddenly died, so I am now alone with my cat, Dandylion.

I never framed the painting but sent it to Andrew’s twin sister to frame and hang.

I have so many other great photos, but for now I am back to simpler objects like flowers,landscapes, sunsets, etc.

We will see what my next adventure will be.


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.