Saturday Morning Message: Handling the Balance of Life
Author: Carol Lane
This week's question about how each of us handle the emotional events of our lives was reflective, so I chose a picture showing a survivor taking time to contemplate. She is sitting by the ocean, but others may like to take a walk in the woods or just find somewhere quiet to think. In the early days of my grief journey, I went to the cemetery to sit on a bench and think about how my life had changed and how I could honor my son. I used to rely solely on myself, but now I find that I reach out to others a lot more when I find myself having difficulty with an event that comes suddenly and brings a range of emotions. I believe I began to change when I connected with TAPS. I found others who had gone through the same experience, and talking to them was uplifting. Now, when I face a problem of any kind, I am likely to call or email a close friend to get another opinion and support.
Tuesday was a perfect day to think about this week's question. A snowstorm came to my area, which made it a wonderful time to think about the replies that came from survivors this week. Each person handles these times differently, and there is no right or wrong answer. Thank you to all who shared their thoughts this week. If you would like to comment on any of the replies, please send them to me and I will pass them on to the person who wrote it.
Questions are the backbone of the Saturday Morning Message. In order to keep the Saturday Morning Message fresh, I am always looking for more questions or topics you would like to see addressed. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. 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.
One suggestion a survivor had was to include a song of the week, which is now a weekly section. If you have a song that is special to you or reminds you of your loved one, please send it along with a sentence or two about what makes this song distinctive. One of our contributors, Andy, father of Danny, makes a playlist on Spotify of the songs that appear in the Saturday Morning Messages along with a few other songs that are special to him. The playlist is called "Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Songs of Love and Remembrance." You can sign up for Spotify for free to listen to the playlist. I often listen to it and think of our TAPS family while I am on the computer.
QUESTION FOR NEXT WEEK'S SATURDAY MORNING MESSAGE
Caryn, mother of Nathan, sent this week's question. It is one that we have all had to face. Caryn wrote, "What do you, or would you, say to someone who makes comments like: 'You're still not over your son's death? It has been six years already. You need to get on with life and not live in the past!'" I look forward to your responses.
♫ SONG FOR THE WEEK
Linda, mother of Christopher, sent the song of the week. Linda wrote, "'When I Get Where I'm Going,'" sung by Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton, touches my heart in so many ways. Of course, the lovely words, so sweet and precious, would make any eye misty. But the lyrics that really pull at my heartstrings are in the second verse. The thought of Chris's granddad being there to greet him as he came home fills my heart with joy and my eyes with tears. They had a very special relationship, and I know how happy they each must have been to see one another again."
ANSWERS FROM SURVIVORS
From Cheryl, mother of Jack: As I read the topic of the week, it was like I could feel that seesaw of emotions, the ups and downs of my grief experience like waves in the ocean. There are times I talk about Jack and I can smile or laugh. Then, yesterday, as I was sharing with someone that Jack had been killed by an IED, I was crying and mourning. It has been up and down continually for me. How do I respond to some of life's ups and downs? Well, we are all struggling with so many emotions, memories and life experiences that I do not always respond the way I think I should. And there are times when I do wait, consider, alter and correct my impulsive reaction. I do go talk to a counselor, and I do not have plans to stop. Through the past seven years, I have learned that I may always be up and down. I may always have some pain in my heart for Jack, I may always have times where I mess up and react the wrong way, but it is all OK.
From Ed, father of Misty and Edward: I balance things by working. I work as many hours that I can. I have been doing this for almost six years now.
From Merry, mother of Wesley: During the early stages of my grief journey, I felt paralyzed by decisions that needed to be made. When another catastrophe occurred, like those on the daily news - even those that were not directly relating to me - they affected me and sent me into a preservation mode. It was very hard to move forward from week to week.
Gradually, over the coming months, as I embraced healing, my mind and body started to react much differently, and I realized I could handle a little more each month. Situations that would set me back then are more of a minor distraction now, and I can face them and carry on.
I now know that I can come alongside others who are experiencing the grief journey because I started to care about them, keep in touch and send out cards of support. I'm less focused on my own problems, and I can actually take in other people's concerns.
My journey thus far has taken four and a half years to come to the point of listening to others and helping if I can. The TAPS chat room saved my life during the first year, attending regional and national seminars was another step, having a mentor was another and becoming a peer mentor is now another. I look forward to what my faith has brought me to - a calling on a different path. Oct. 5, 2012, was a former life, and I cannot return. Oct. 6, 2012, began a completely different journey, and I have a lot of support and company, which includes TAPS.