Saturday Morning Message: Thoughts for New Survivors

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

The picture today comes from my garden to your house. It is a picture of a rose my sister-in-law gave me for my birthday this year. This is one of the last roses of the summer season in my part of the country. I thought the rose along with an article written by Carla Stumpf-Patton titled “Seasons of Grief” would be appropriate to this week’s topic. In the article, she compares the journey we face in grief with the seasons, starting with winter as early grief and moving on through the seasons as time passes.

Yellow Rose

Here are excerpts from the article:

“Winter may have had us trudging through icy snow to find protective shelter from the gusty, chilling winds of grief. It may have felt dark and lonely with no hope in sight.

In time, we may move along to touch the first greenery of spring as it appears on a tree or to hear singing of birds in the morning dew. We may experience a sense of renewal and find hope as we realize there are others who share the experience of loss, where we are no longer alone.

We often think of summer as synonymous with freedom, a season which allows us to find freedom in our brokenness. It's a time to pause and take a break as we plan for the road ahead.

Trees shed their leaves before they take on the next change or challenge of snowfall. So too, we may find that change is necessary. Sometimes, our values don't look the same anymore.”

The whole article touches on what survivors feel especially when there are days that our feelings seem to go backward, which is totally normal.

It came to my attention this week that some readers of the Saturday Morning Message may not understand how to access the articles or the songs of the week that are posted. If you see words written in blue and underlined, just click on those words, which are linked to another website where the article or song is posted.

Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. 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

Finding a “new normal” can be difficult. After the fog of early grief wears off, we often look at what we can do to bring enjoyment back into our lives while we continue to honor our loved one. This week’s question addresses that concept: Have you developed or enhanced a hobby or skill, or taken a trip to lift your spirits since your loved one died? You might also write about something you are thinking of doing like planning on taking on a new hobby or taking a trip. I hope many of you will share your thoughts. Others may gather some ideas for their own healing from your response.

Song for the Week

Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew, wanted to share this song, "In the Arms of an Angel" by Sarah McLachlan. Bonnie Jo wrote, “It is a great and emotional song. There are many versions out there for sure on YouTube. Some are filled with service ceremonies and they are hard to view for some.” This is a moving version, but as Bonnie Jo writes, the images center around survivors who have had a loved one die in service to our country.

Answers from Survivors

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: To the new members of this group:

Welcome to the group no one wants to join, but this is the best group to be in to learn how to grieve for your loved one and to know we will answer any question you have.

My advice: 

  • Anyone who tells you time will heal you ... forget that. You will learn to live a new normal.
  • Don't forget you are not the only one grieving for your loved one.
  • When holidays or significant dates come try to make new memories.
  • Tell stories about your loved one as it keeps them alive. Be ready to learn about how others knew your loved one.
  • TAPS is here for you.

From Anne, mother of Michael: For new survivors on the grief journey, I would tell them that the loss of someone we love dearly is a very difficult road. The love of that person will never leave our heart. It is like being in limbo, and where do we go? It is our choice to read articles on grief, cry, hug others, join a grief support group and help others. I feel that we go into a cocoon and never want to come out of it, but gradually we start to spread our wings and emerge into a new person once again with another purpose here on earth.


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.