Saturday Morning Message: The Difference TAPS Has Made — Part 2

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

This week, I am going to keep my comments short as there were several writers who have responded to the question about the difference TAPS has made in their lives. In addition to the Saturday Morning Message, there is also a monthly Writers’ Circle Newsletter that is published and goes out to those who sign up to receive it. It is for those of you who find writing longer essays, poems and reading the thoughts of others healing. If you find this group interesting, just send me a short email at and you will be added to that group.

TAPS "Stronger Every Day" Sign

Questions and songs are the backbone of the Saturday Morning Message. In order to keep the Saturday Morning Message fresh, I am looking for more of both. 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, songs or any ideas you may have.


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message

Next Saturday will be Veterans Day. This begins the winter holiday season. I thought it might be helpful for us to share what we do to make us more relaxed during this time of year. So the question this week is: What are your plans to make yourself more comfortable during the November and December holidays?

Song for the Week

Allicia, daughter of Burr, sent these two songs. She wrote, “My dad, Burr Johnson, loved these two hymns. Both of these songs have played multiple times on Father's Days and have reminded me even more of the powerful connection I can still have with my dad. The Morning Breaks’ was the opening hymn to my dad's funeral. This is my favorite version of the song ‘Lead Kindly Light,’ which was the closing hymn to my dad's funeral. Many times in church ‘Lead Kindly Light’ and “The Morning Breaks” are played back to back. Then I know it's my dad!”

Answers from Survivors

From Cheryl, mother of Jack: I would like to tell you how much TAPS has meant to me and how it has helped me on my journey. When my son was killed, I was given information about TAPS at the funeral, but I cannot tell you who gave it to me. At the time, I hated the word and my brain said why would I want to get in touch with anything associated with that word.

Fast forward to January (Jack was killed in September). The funeral was over, the holidays were over. I did not want each holiday to happen because Jack would not be there for them. I was in a big black hole. I was hurting, lonely and not wanting anything. I remembered someone had said get in touch with TAPS. I called a number. I connected with people who got it.

They told me they had a TAPS event at Fort Riley. My husband and I went, along with three daughters, a granddaughter and three grandsons, and I felt like I was given a new lease, a hope, a path. We were treated so warmly, we were fed well, we went to events and meetings that gave us such good help for our journey. The grandchildren had things going on for them also. It was so instrumental in my grief healing. I was given a lifeline. I am so serious when I say this.

That was just the beginning. Since then my family has been able to attend and do things through TAPS that have made a huge difference in our lives. My daughters went to retreats and adventure venues like Las Vegas, Utah, Washington state, and the Grand Canyon. My husband went to the Smoky Mountains and Montana. My husband and I went to a couples retreat in Austin. Several of our family also went to Fort Hood in the summer of 2010. I went to a ladies retreat in Wisconsin last year. I would recommend it to ladies — it was great. We also went to Chicago this year. All of the things we did I would recommend.  

I think the biggest event was our family going to D.C. to participate in the Marine Corps Marathon. My husband, one grandson, and I did a 10k. I had two daughters, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and a grandson all run in the marathon. Also one of Jack's team members ran. It was such an unbelievable time. The whole thing was only possible through TAPS.

I am so awe-struck as I write this. Every one of us who joins this family that no one really wants to join needs to get connected with TAPS. We are lifted up by TAPS.

From Merry, mother of Wesley: Connecting with others who share my journey/story began very slowly. I was online for a year in the chat room with other women and men who were trying to make some sense out of the devastating circumstances of loss. My daily life was very compact, and I did not reach out to people for a long time.  

Year two brought a planting of a tree, and I had several people invited to that celebration and it was good.  

Year three I realized that others had definitely moved on and were not going to remember my story. It was a horrible anniversary.

Year four has been a slow realization of how different my journey/story is than what I had imagined for my life. I've begun to take a more honest view of the story. I don't like it — I rather hate it — but it is my story and I have to write it.

The fifth anniversary just passed. I received a lovely email card from TAPS, a remembrance email from my best friend from the first grade, a bag of chocolate and a big hug from my best friend at home as I left for "Hope In The Desert," TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar, that was held in Phoenix. I have many family members — not one of them said anything. I don't know. Maybe it's because I live far away from everyone. It will be interesting to see if anyone brings it up when I visit family this next week.

TAPS has been the lifesaver in all of these years. I can rely on any of my acquaintances and friends. My life is very different, but I can celebrate, grieve and hate the journey with TAPS and my TAPS friends. I also am involved in a Heartbeat group at home — Parents Surviving Suicide.  We all have a story, and we have each other.

From Jim, father of Andrew: To the question of the week – How do I answer it? Basically by just saying what the question asks. My life is incredibly and vastly different because we have been able to connect with others through TAPS. There are levels of our souls and beings that need to be shared, and connecting with others through TAPS, through talking, listening, doing and just being there, allows that to occur. Few other things allow that to occur in ways that truly validate the pain and hurt in our aching souls. TAPS allows us to connect, aching soul to aching soul.

TAPS is not just there for us; they are there because of us — because of our pain, our hurt, our need to be comforted and heard, and because we all matter. Others have walked on the beach in shoes stained by tears. They realize that the point is not to stop the tears from flowing or to wash the stains out of the shoes, but just to be there for outward and inward support and comforting.

TAPS matters, we matter, and the “new normal” in which our thoughts and feelings reside matters. Can we and will we ever really feel better? Yes, it is true that with time most of us will. But because of TAPS, most of us do in really substantial helpful and healing ways which we likely never would have experienced. With time it likely will get better. However, for me, with TAPS, it HAS gotten better. Thanks!


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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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Celebrating National Mentoring Month

During this National Mentoring Month, we want to express our gratitude for all of our mentors:

  • TAPS Peer Mentors who take their experience as a military survivor and offer support to those new to grief.
  • Military and Legacy Mentors who companion the youngest members of our family, offering a safe and supportive community.

Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn throughout the month, where we will be sharing resources and articles about mentoring, along with quotes and testimonials from our mentors and mentees.

Webinar: Mindfulness as Your Superpower

On Thursday, January 28 at 12 p.m. Eastern, the TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing® will present a free webinar, "Mindfulness as Your Superpower."

Mindfulness isn’t just for naturally calm people. It is a superpower that can help us cope with the most challenging emotions—even grief. Using superhero case examples, during this workshop, you will learn how mindfulness can help you navigate loss, improve your health, and cultivate much-needed compassion for your grieving heart. 

Join TAPS At One of Our 2021 Seminars

Registration is now open for our 2021 Regional Seminars and our National Military Survivor Seminar. In - Person and Virtual Opportunities are available.

TAPS Seminars offer a comprehensive model of care that brings together adult survivors of all ages for a weekend of hope and healing. Whether you recently lost your hero, have lived many years without them or are somewhere in between, TAPS Seminars are designed to meet you where you are in your grief journey. 

Breath of Fresh Air with TAPS Outdoors: Breathing In The New Year

TAPS Outdoors wants to help you reconnect with the natural world in simple yet meaningful ways with weekly activities you can do anywhere. (Yes, we really mean anywhere.) Our goal is to connect you with the healing power of nature no matter where you live and give you the tools to make meaning out of your experiences. 

As many of us have experienced in our grief, a year of great loss and challenge can also give way to new life and hope. Join us in January for Breathing In The New Year, as we transition into a new year and explore the wild, forging new paths together in our hearts and set foot on trails we've yet to see. 

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

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We're All In This Together

COVID-19 Support and Resources

At TAPS, we’re no stranger to challenging times, and we’re all doing our part to support one another and get through these difficult times together. As always, TAPS is here 24/7, and our team is working hard to provide resources, services and support to surviving military families as they navigate the challenges of COVID-19. For more information or questions, visit our COVID-19 Response and Resources page or please email us at

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Choose TAPS as Your AmazonSmile Charity of Choice

AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support TAPS every time you shop, at no cost to you. Visit, 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

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 202-588-8277.