Saturday Morning Message: The Warmth of Friendship
Author: Carol Lane
On this week’s TAPS Facebook page, it was suggested reading the article, “It Takes a Tribe” by Shauna Springer. The article fits today’s topic perfectly. She shares the ways a professional can give help and how we can support each other through friendship when disaster strikes.
The article lists three ways that I want to explore:
- “Deploy the power of touch
- Speak clearly and directly about their love, respect, and need for continued connection
- Tell stories, especially the irreverent, hilarious ones”
This is one of the reasons the TAPS Peer Mentor program works so well. We talk to each other as fellow travelers on this journey called grief. Although we may live many miles apart and are unable to physically hug one another, we can show we care with our words and sometimes that is all that is needed. Then, when we meet at a TAPS event, we can hug each other as long as we want. Sharing stories either about our loved ones or the times we spend together can help us build a bond that is very strong.
Today, I would like to introduce you to my friend, Mona. We worked together in the school district which was my job before TAPS. She was always a person I could go to when I felt the need to vent and she would get me laughing about it which was something few others could do. After retirement, we see each other for coffee just to keep in touch as part of a breakfast group on Wednesday mornings. I feel I can call her anytime. She is the friend I would like to honor in today’s message. I know you will enjoy reading about the other friends in this message.
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.
You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. You can also send favorite songs that are meaningful to you. In order to have your reply included in the week’s Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send it to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature.
Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message
The Saturday Morning Message was created so survivors can share questions and read how others respond. By sharing coping strategies, together we become stronger. I am looking for questions for future messages.
This week’s question came from Ellen, fiancé of David. Many of you have probably thought about the most helpful suggestions others gave you at the beginning of your grief journey, so the question this week is: For a new survivor, what would you share with them as they take the first steps on their grief journey? Share what is on your heart. It can offer help and hope to another.
♫ Song for the Week
From Janet, spouse of Louis and grandmother of Heath: "I was too young to realize couples had, as Louis said, a special song. We were married for 60 years, so it was for always. He passed four months after our grandson, Heath. Also, Sept. 23 is our 12th great-grandbaby Scarlett’s second birthday. Now you are playing our song on Scarlett’s birthday. How good can a day get.” Janet said the song "I’ll Be Loving You Always sung by Dean Martin is the closest to how Louis sang the song.
Answers from Survivors
From Merry, mother of Wesley: I have a very special best friend who has seen me in my ups and downs years before Wes took his life. She has continued with me throughout my journey or journeys through very tough times. I do not know what I would do without her.
Wes took his life. Then one of my brothers died three months later and then my best friend's husband died three months after that. We've been there for each other over coffee, trading time for boarding our dogs, just listening and being there for when we need to get things off our shoulders and hearts. She is a very, very special friend — very, very hard to find. I could never replace her.
From Laura, mother of Nathaniel: I find it hard to select one favorite anything. Especially one individual who holds me up during my time of grief. I'm blessed to have many wonderful, caring friends and family providing comfort and encouragement throughout this heartbreak journey.
However, Phyllis, a dear friend of 21 years, unexpectedly reached out to me a couple of days after I received the news of Nathaniel's death. The last time we spoke was two years prior, shortly after her mother died by suicide, and our friendship picked up right where it left off. She personally understands the misery and the healing process of bereavement. She knows exactly how to guide me through my recovery and stands out among many of my supportive loved ones because she initiates support right before I know I even need it.
I'd say instinctively, but I know it's deliberate. She thoughtfully uses her wisdom, carefully chosen words of encouragement, and an empathic ear at unexpected and the most difficult times. Like the first holidays and birthdays and other moments that have come and gone since Nathaniel left us.
About two months into grieving, early in 2017, she made time out of her busy schedule to help me transplant plants from a sympathy dish garden I received. She brought along with her several cuts of plant stems she got from her mother's funeral and I shared some of mine with her. At the time, I didn't know how important cultivating these houseplants would become to me. Phyllis knew but didn't say. She let me discover the hidden message on my own and gave deliberately, thoughtfully and unconditionally.
From Bonnie Jo mother of Andrew: The day my son died, or at least the day we got the knock on the door, Bob and I were at my home planning to pack and go to visit our daughter the next day. I had made a fantastic breakfast for us and we were out on my porch ready to eat it when we got a phone call from Bob's church that Army guys were looking all over New Jersey for Bob and wound up at our church where Bob's friends knew he was in Pennsylvania. Bob was so upset. I said, “The Army must be looking for you because you and Andy did such a great job with the wheelchair and crutches drive that is on its way to Afghanistan right now and they want to thank you.”
Well, I wound up throwing out the whole breakfast as neither one of us could eat. Then the doorbell rang. It was my pet-sitter Kathy. She was coming to get the keys to my home as she was going to take care of my cat, Dandylion, while we were away. I gave her the key after collapsing and sobbing in her arms and then a few minutes after she left, we got the worst bell ring ever. They stood there and told us our son was killed. That woman was there for us throughout the whole time of traveling, going to Dover, Fort Bragg, Arlington Cemetery, etc. So much travel and so much time of grief. What a precious friend she was and is. She gave me the most beautiful tulips this spring and I am trying to paint a picture of them.
From Belinda mother of Benjamin: There are perhaps three people who have been there for me in the last 21 months (seems so long ago and such a short time). My husband, Glen, lost his daughter in 2005 so he understands and supports me in everything I do. My friend Sharon is always here when I need her. But the one I look forward to talking to is my TAPS mentor, Karen. We've found we have a lot of things in common and I look forward to her weekly calls. Praying to meet one day.