Saturday Morning Message: New Ventures

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

CrochetAfter the initial pain of grief has lessened, many find that undertaking a new hobby or pastime can offer comfort. This week’s opening picture is from Caryn, mother of Nathan and spouse of Micheal, who writes later in the message about the art of crochet and how it has uplifted her. This week’s blog has many suggestions with ideas you might want to try. 

In addition to the responses that came in this week, I found two articles written for the TAPS Magazine that touch on ways we can begin to cope after the death of a precious loved one. The first is “3 Ways Gardening Changed My Outlook On Grief.” Author Anne Halvorson writes about collecting sap and making maple syrup with a neighbor after the death of her husband. The next spring, she started a small garden and found it really helped her grief. This is one of the ways I have also found comforting. My husband and I belong to a garden club in our town. Meeting with these caring people once a month and taking care of the memorial garden our town has set up for the three young men who have died in service to our country allowed us to contribute to our town as well as honor our son.

In the article, “How Helping Others Can Help Ourselves,” the authorMike Aldapa describes how reaching out to others through TAPS Peer Mentoring can give us a way to connect with others who are grieving while helping ourselves. This story tells of the time he was asked to take sunflowers to the grave of another survivor’s loved one and how that experience relieved him from some anxiety he had been feeling about going to the cemetery.

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 I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. 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.

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 special to him. You can sign up for Spotify for free to listen to the playlist.The playlist is called “Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Songs of Love and Remembrance.” 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

Sharing memories of our loved ones can be very healing and also introduces our loved ones to the group who read the Saturday Morning Message, so the question this week is: Do you have a story about your loved one that you would like to share? We look forward to reading your response.

Song for the Week

The song this week is perfect for the topic of enhancing a skill to help with grieving. We don’t often have a song in which readers of the Saturday Morning Message actually sing, but today we do. Bob and Kitty, parents of John, sent the song for this week, which is “Kyrie Eleison (Rehearsal Edition).” When I asked them to write about the choir and the meaning of the song, they responded,  “Kitty and I have both sung with this choir at our church since 1981. This is an auditioned choir of about 90 to 100 members from our home church.

The song’s origin is from Psalms 6:3 ‘Have pity on me. oh Lord.’ Written origins of the Kyrie can be traced to the 4th century. In 390 A.D. the Gallic pilgrim lady Aetheria tells of how at the end of Vespers in Jerusalem a crowd of boys answered the deacons who read the petitions with ‘Kyrie elieson...their cry is without end.’ It is also a celebration of the fact that we have already received grace and mercy from God.” This an uplifting song that made me smile and dance a bit while listening.

Answers from Survivors

From Caryn, mother of Nathan and spouse of Micheal: My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was a kid, but over time life took over and I put it aside.

After Nathan and Micheal died, I needed something to occupy my mind and time, so I slowly went back to crocheting. The first year I made scarves for everyone as I tried to get back into the groove. And it definitely helped keep my mind in a better place!

Over the past, almost seven years, I have made blankets for all six of my grandkids, my parents, sisters, and this coming Christmas I have blankets for all 10 of my great nieces and nephews. Definitely got the hang of it now!

From Betty, mother of Michael: Truth be told, upon my son’s death I had no desire to have my spirits lifted. I was totally content to flounder in the malaise indefinitely. Some days were better than others, but I had readjusted my expectations so low that just getting through a day at my office and returning home to my safe spot was a victory.

I was a little over a year into my grief journey when I received an email from Team TAPS regarding the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon. I chuckled to myself and thought, “Well that would nudge me out of my safe spot and comfort zone.” After pondering it for a couple of weeks, I took the plunge and signed up for the 10K portion of the race. (I’m not totally crazy!)

In 2015, at the age of 60, I ran a 10K at Disneyland with my youngest son, a fresh graduate from Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, cheering me on along the sidelines and Michael stationed in Virginia doing the same, via text. Now, for some reason, running with the Marine family and TAPS seemed like the right thing to do.

So, for the past six months, I’ve been training — far out of my “comfort zone.” None of this has been easy, but then, we all know this new normal we live every day is not easy — ever. But I do know that over the miles, I have grown stronger, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’m looking forward to Oct. 22 when I run the distance, wearing Michael’s image on my shirt and his memory in my heart.

Other Items and Events of Interest

Caregiver to Survivor Program banner

TAPS recognizes the urgent need to support families who have lost a military loved one after having been a caregiver. The leading cause of death of our military loved ones is reported by survivors to be illness, but we know there are many survivors that experienced a loss after having cared for a loved one who was traumatically injured or diseased as well. 

At TAPS we understand, and we’re here to support our survivors as they navigate a grief journey that may have begun even before the death of your loved one. And, we are mindful of the differences present when someone has been a caregiver before they have transitioned to a survivor. The Caregiver to Survivor Program was developed with this in mind. 

We invite you to explore our resources and encourage you to reach out for support and take advantage of this exciting new program. 

▶▶  Connect With Other Survivors of Illness Loss

Join with other caregivers who supported their loved one through a devastating illness. Honor and share your loved one, the emotions, issues and challenges facing bereaved caregivers. Regardless of the circumstance or geography of the death, you are welcome in the TAPS Caregiver Support Chat. 

Caregiver to Survivor Chat
Wednesday, May 19
8:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Eastern
We hope to see you there!

▶▶  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.

Did you lose your loved one due to an illness?

Illness Loss Survey

If your military loved one suffered with a wound, illness, or injury, please consider taking our new Illness Loss Survivor Survey, 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

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).