Saturday Morning Message: Honoring Our Loved Ones

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

The picture this week is the card that Carmen, mother of Charles wrote about later in the message. I thought it was so special that it deserved to be the first thing people saw when they opened this week’s Saturday Morning Message. Survivors shared the many different ways they they honor their loved ones. I thought I would add mine as well. This Saturday Morning Message is one of the ways I honor my son. It started out when I was a Peer Mentor and I wanted to keep in touch every week. Now it has grown and I am able to not only honor him, but also your loved ones as we get to know them more and more. Thank you to those who read and also to those who respond to the message each week. We are indeed a family. 

Card from Carmen

By sharing coping strategies, together we become stronger. 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. 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. 

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. 

Hugs,
Carol 

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

Since this is a time of year when you may be feeling overwhelmed and want to take some time off from work, Kelly, sister of Samuel sent the question for this week which is: How do you explain to your employer about the emotions of grief and how it may affect your work performance? 

♫ Song for the Week 

From Samira, mother of Andres: “I’ll Fly Away” sung by Ransomed Bluegrass. Samira wrote that this song is special because the death of her son changed her life. 

Answers from Survivors

From Carmen, mother of Charles: We lost our son in October 2016. It has been a real struggle to move ahead and also figure out how to honor and remember him. One thing I have done is create Random Acts of Kindness cards with his name on them. I am trying to do at least one act in his name each month. I have attached a picture that was posted on Facebook after one time. I have used this card to donate to missions, send money to people who have lost someone, sponsor two 5k runs (one for a child with a life threatening illness and one for a homeless shelter), and made bags for the homeless. Our school community also responded to our request to send boxes to soldiers that were from my son’s unit and deployed to Afghanistan last Christmas. We sent 54 boxes!.  

My sister and her grandchildren volunteered at the above-mentioned homeless shelter last year to serve a Thanksgiving meal. This year my daughters and I plan to join them.  

I have also started Wreaths Across America at the small cemetery where Chaz is buried. Last year because of the late start, we only had the ceremonial wreaths. This year all 72 veterans will have a wreath placed on their grave!  

I don’t want my son forgotten and I want to be a better person because of him️

From Michele, mother of Stephen:  After Stephen passed away, I received a book that was called, The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions. After reading it, one thing that stuck in my head was a quote, “God doesn't cause death, he allows it because of human brokenness.” That quote gave me some peace, to understand my son was so broken after his return from Afghanistan, which caused his death by suicide. So I thought to honor Stephen, I found a bookstore that sold them in bulk. I sent them to the casualty department at Fort Bliss to hand out to other parents to help them in their grief. I also now belong to a group called Soldiers Angels. It makes me feel that I am honoring my son by giving back to the soldiers deployed. When Stephen was deployed, young school children had sent letters to soldiers overseas and Stephen was one of them. He kept them, which made me think it meant something to him. So that was another reason that I wanted to do this, hoping I could make soldiers feel loved and appreciated for what they do for us, just like our loved ones felt at the time they were serving. God bless our loved ones and their families this holiday season.

From Merry, mother of Wesley: I go to his grave and his tree and have a chat a couple times a month. I will place a wreath on his grave at Fort Logan National Cemetery on Dec. 1. In terms of doing something large in the community, I have to think about that.

On Thanksgiving or through the holiday season, I'm going to set a place for him at the table and keep it there.  A website, "A Seat at the Table, Honoring Those Who have Made the Ultimate Sacrifice," is a beautiful example of what can be done.  

I may take all the children's books that were his and donate them to Mark Twain Elementary School, which he attended in kindergarten and the first grade. (I've had a hard time "moving him" into the garage rafters so it will be difficult to actually give the books away out of the house.)

From Ruth, mother of James: Jim started a group called “Hats for Heroes” before he went to Afghanistan. It was cold in Germany where they brought the wounded. Jim was stationed in Germany. He called and said that the wounded soldiers (youngsters as he called them) came with very little and could I have the ladies at the church help out with sending hats, gloves and scarves to protect them against the cold. Almost immediately fingers were busy knitting and sewing. Hats were mailed to Germany where most of the wounded were sent. When Jim went to Afghanistan the hats followed for children who were experiencing the coldest winter in many years. The hats are still being made beneath pictures of Jim, along with letters of gratitude for work well done. They go to small children to protect them from the cold, cancer victims and so many more.


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.