Saturday Morning Message: The Winter Holidays

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

Today is Veterans Day, so a poem about the holiday is the opening survivor response.

The November and December holidays can add stress to an already difficult time. Today survivors shared what they do to cope. Some write poems. Others choose to go away or do something different than they have done in the past for the upcoming days. Thanks to all who have shared this week and also those of you who read this message.

Survivors Hug Each Other

Is there something on your mind, and you would like to hear how others cope? By sharing coping strategies, together we become stronger. Please send me your questions for future Saturday Morning Messages. You are an integral part of this weekly connection. 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.

The opening picture shows one of the best things to do for someone. Just give them a hug, so here is yours from across the miles.

Hugs to all of you,
Carol

From Thomas, father of Patrick:

Never Forget

Many years have passed, many wars been fought
Those veterans of the past, often in our thoughts
We often wonder where they come from
Those children of ours, our daughters and sons

When we need them, they say, “Send me”
They will be the ones to cross the sea
Growing up so fast, to see them part.
Some, we will see again, others, only in art. 

Our history of wars are extensive at best
Those that step up, deserve medals on their chest
Over 200 years they said, “Send me.”
Both women and men, volunteers and draftees.

Remember those Patriots, and their fight for liberty
They left their families and homes, for a land of the free
Disease, starvation and death became the norm
Kids into soldiers they did transform

Many have served, during our wars
When fighting breaks out, those numbers do soar
That does not include those, that served in peacetime
Reserves and National Guard, ready to stand the line
All gave some and some gave all
We surely miss those that fall

They come back to us, battered and bruised
Their world has changed and they are confused
We owe them our country, our land and our homes.
Our freedoms, our liberties, and how much we have grown
Shake their hand and thank them, for what they have done
Those veterans of ours, our daughters and sons.

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message

The question this week came from an article that was published in the most recent TAPS Magazine. A survivor sent in an article titled "Rich in Love and Food: Pozole Verde." The author, Gabriela Chavez, wrote about a favorite dish her son made. I thought it would be interesting to send in a paragraph about a favorite food your loved one made or liked. You don’t have to share the recipe. So the question is: What is a favorite food your loved one liked and why was this dish special?

Song for the Week

From Kelsey, mother of Michael: My son was a Marine. He passed away Aug. 8, 2016. He loved Japan and it's people. At his memorial service, we played Japanese music. Whenever I hear “Sakura Rain,” I think of him. Sometimes I cry, other times I smile. Either way, this song has become his song. 

Answers from Survivors

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: November holidays for me aren't too bad because we are busy. Thanksgiving will be shared with 24 people at my husband's ex-wife’s condo. Yes, we all get along for the kids' and grandkids’ sake, and it works. It's also big birthdays for his son and daughter-in-law. That party is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

December is a bit more problematic. Eugene would have turned 40. Chanukah, Christmas and New Years will be uneventful. But Jan. 6 we go on a cruise. I am sure something will pop up during December to make it different.

Laura, mother of Nathaniel: I’m not sure what to expect the second year of Nathan’s passing. Some say it’s better than the first, some say it’s worse. Nonetheless, it’s for me to discover. Hoping for the best and prepared for the worst, I’ve decided not to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year holidays. A break from the pressures holidays can bring at a time when what is (Nathan’s physical absence) and what will never be (Nathan’s presence) is already comforting to me. I’m able to focus on the heart of the matter —remembering his love, celebrating his life and sharing the journey.

Photo of Fallen Hero

Karl, father of Tre: TAPS has been a comfort to me. It's a circle you don't want to be a part of but glad you are. I actually look for the Saturday Morning Message. In the beginning, I hesitated opening it thinking it was just pouring salt in the wound. Then I saw ya'll knew the pain I knew and could relate to me, unlike family members and friends. Knowing that the person preparing this message, Carol Lane, also shares our grief convinced me to be a part of it. Unlike many here I have not really participated in a TAPS event. But reading the messages and responding to some and speaking with TAPS volunteers has helped me. This Veterans Day my son will be honored by having a stone placed, which someone donated, at the Kingsland, Georgia, Veterans Memorial Park. Small but humble. It's been this father's ongoing mission to make sure no one forgets my son's sacrifice. Thanks and God bless all of you.


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.