Saturday Morning Message: Coping with the Holidays

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

This week, survivors share what has worked to help them cope as the December holiday season approaches. As you will see, each person’s experience is different and therefore the strategies they use are unique to them. I thank all of the responders this week along with those who read the Saturday Morning Message. Know that if things get too overwhelming, the TAPS Helpline at 800-959-8277 is answered 24/7. You are never alone.

Ocean and beach

Since this week’s question was about sharing strategies that help us, I thought it might be beneficial to share a webinar that is free through the TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing called “Coping with Waves of Grief During Special Times.” The picture this week reminds us how ocean waves can sometimes crash onto shore like strong grief emotions come into our lives. The webinar will be presented on Dec. 4 by Dr. Patti Anewalt. You have to register by December 3 to participate. This is another way TAPS is helping survivors gain useful information about grief from the comfort of our own homes.

When you are ready, you might want to become a Peer Mentor. This is a program designed to connect new survivors to others who are farther along on this grief journey. In this way, we never have to walk alone. This is how the weekly Saturday Morning Message came to be. I was a Peer Mentor and wanted to connect the mentees I had with others. Then it grew to what it is now. We can ask questions and respond or just read how others cope. As survivors began to write longer essays, poems, and send drawings, the monthly Writer’s Circle developed. You can receive either or both of these, by contacting me at

Remember, you can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. I look forward to hearing from you. My email address is

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

This is a question that will tell us a little about your loved one as well as give you a chance to be creative. This week’s question is: If you could give your loved one an ornament today, what would the ornament symbolize? Tell us a little about why you chose that object. 

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 always looking for questions for future messages. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing It is best to send your response to me by Tuesday morning of the following week.


♫ Song for the Week

The song this week came from a survivor who offered it in the blog section of the Online Community titled “Better Boat sung by Kenny Chesney. I found it a warm and comforting song. 

If you have a song that is special to you or reminds you of your loved one, please send it along with a sentence or two about what makes this song meaningful to you. One of our contributors, Andy, father of Danny, makes a playlist on Spotify of the songs that appear in the Saturday Morning Messages along with a few other songs special to him. You can sign up for Spotify for free to listen to the playlist. The playlist is called Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Songs of Love and Remembrance. You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at


Answers from Survivors

Responses from Survivors to last week’s question: What are your strategies for coping with the December holidays?

From Kelsey, mother of Michael: My strategy for dealing with the holidays is to honor traditions that my son and I enjoyed. Bear was unconventional in his views about holiday celebrations. We had tacos for Thanksgiving. For Christmas we had no specific meal, but we did play video games and laugh a lot. A couple favorite games were Metal Gear and The Witcher. Whatever we chose it was always fun. I miss those times the most. I will play some games and try laughing this Christmas.

From Essie, mother of Tysheena: We just keep busy and try to smile a lot. On past Thanksgivings I have found myself in Tysheena's room reminiscing, smiling and looking at her flag that draped her casket and my mile markers from the New Jersey Run for the Fallen. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas are Sheena's favorite holidays, so her presence is felt even more around here. On Christmas we will celebrate at home, and then go to Maryland with our cousins. We basically stay busy and do a lot of joking around and having family around us.

From Beth, former wife of Thomas: I go on my former spouse's Facebook and see what comments people have posted. I also look at his last cell phone messages, and I also light a candle in his memory.  

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: December is difficult at best. We celebrate Chanukah and Christmas. In addition, it’s Eugene’s birthday. He would have been 41 this year. Diversion...this is key for my needs. There are my surviving son’s three children under 5 who have figured out how to FaceTime me on their daddy’s phone. They are most fun. Then there’s my piano work...keeps me busy. And I have a great husband. I keep busy. Is it full-proof? No, but it helps.

From Merry, mother of Wesley: My plans are to take one day at a time; not to get myself too overwhelmed by comparisons of family life or thinking I need to decorate more, entertain friends, etc. I will be working part time and the load there will be heavier than usual. One day at a time there as well. 

If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who participated in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to me at and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.

Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

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

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).