Saturday Morning Message: Paying Respects

Author: Carol Lane

Survivor Hugs a Veteran

Good morning,

While reading the latest TAPS magazine, I came across an article titled “The Love Languages of Grief” written by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. In it, he lists the five primary ways from Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Love Languages” that help us feel loved. When a friend has a loved one die, this article can help us know what to do to make him or her feel our care. The responses this week show what survivors do differently now that they have experienced a close loss. I know since the death of my son, I think about calling the bereaved a few months after the death and sharing stories about their loved one. I spend more time touching base with others and letting them know I am really here for them. Enjoy reading the responses that came in this week.

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. 

Carol, surviving mother of Bryon

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

Many people find that gardening helps them cope with the loss of a loved one. Perhaps it is the participation in the cycle of life, perhaps the quiet and contemplative work involved, perhaps the memory of someone else who enjoyed planting and tending flowers or vegetables. This week’s question is: Has gardening helped you mourn your loss and heal? And if so, what do you plant and why? Feel free to send photos as well. Looking forward to your responses.

Song for the Week

Dalton, father-in-law of Cory, sent the song this week. The song, by country singer and songwriter George Jones, is called "Who’s Gonna to Fill Their Shoes." The song is about how some country music legends are irreplaceable, just as our loved ones can’t be replaced.

Answers from Survivors

Last Week's Question: How do you pay respects to other folks after the death of their loved one — is it any different now than before your own loss?

From Pinita, wife of Stephen: Transformation through tragedy is something I know all of us have experienced, in so many profound ways. I actually just experienced a close friend losing a loved one this past weekend. And right away I knew he needed to know that people were listening and acknowledging his loss. But also that as a friend who was there for him, he didn't have to respond, not then, or ever. I knew that if he didn't respond it wasn't because of me, it was because he needed to deal with his loss on his own terms. We all deal with the rawness and numbness in our own ways.The tears may not flow immediately, and that does not signal lack of emotion. Or even if the tears do freely flow right away, it does not necessarily signal any other type of emotional imbalance. I've learned through my own tragic loss — losing my husband and soul mate — that the best thing I can do for another is just be a friend, even if it's a text message, a meal delivery, walking their dog, or even making a bed. And don't stop a few weeks out after the loss.The grief is still there. So continue to be a friend. This was something I profoundly learned. You don't get over the grief, but you get through it, so continue to say his or her name, recount fun stories, and keep them alive through beautiful memories.

From Linda, mother of Gene: So many folks tried to offer me comfort after the loss of my son, Gene. Some of the statements that were made actual caused me pain or even made me angry.   I will always remember two statements: the one that made me angry was a lady telling me about the loss of her cat and it was the same as my loss of my child. But the one that helped and is the only statement I say to anyone at a time of loss now "I will pray for God to give you peace and comfort." To this day those words help me. For peace and comfort was what I needed most.

From Lonnie, wife of Larry: The one thing I’ve learned from this experience is that when you give your condolences to someone after their loved one has passed, do NOT ask questions about how they passed. I think I taught a former work colleague a big lesson there. I tend to be “too nice” and will answer questions, but I finally had to put a stop to it during this one conversation and tell that person what it was doing to me emotionally. I also learned a lesson for myself there as well: I need to protect myself and my privacy because answering those questions besides making me relive and remember everything, also makes me feel spent and exhausted.

From Sheryl, mother of Adam: Since I have lost my husband and son, Adam, I have become much better at sending cards to others who are experiencing loss. I also gift a daily meditation book to close family members and friends.This summer I will start to make dragonfly mobiles from spoons to give to people. In other words, I have learned how important it is to let people know that they are not alone.

From Merry, mother of Wesley: I always try to send a card.I received so many cards when Wes died and they are so very special to me. If I know the person well, I will write something inside about the deceased. Otherwise, I make reference to how many people are caring about the survivors.

Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew and widow of Bob: Before the loss of my son, I would have never brought up the subject of loss to acquaintances I knew on a weekly or another basis. Now, I do in conversation, on the phone or in person depending on the situation.

This becomes complicated, but I allow my inner self to dictate how much I contribute and how that person seems to be responsive to it. Often, I have met or spoke with folks who NEED to also speak about their own tragedies and grief experiences. It is so rewarding to listen to them and share the journey.

I recently went to a store and I needed help bringing out the big box of stuff I bought. The checkout woman whom I have known for a while asked me why I was using a walker. We were speaking about carrying out big boxes. I told her I had twins and the carrying of them sometimes was a true challenge for sure! She asked me how old they were. I told her I only had one left as Andy had been killed in Afghanistan. Then she told me a story about her brother who died two years earlier of cancer that had invaded his whole body. I just listened (as a TAPS mentor or other would do). You know what? She will continue to be a friend of mine because she shared and so did I.

Life for us survivors is so hard, but there are so many others out there who also have lost loved ones for so many reasons. To me, the reason hardly matters. Be there for others and share when you find the opportunity. Life and death have no parameters, genders or affiliation with any job or service.

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. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. In order to have your reply included in the next week’s message, it is best to send your answers to me by Tuesday of the following week.


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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

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, 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.  

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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.