Saturday Morning Message: An Ornament For Your Loved One

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

Samantha's Christmas Tree

This week survivors sent answers to the question about making an ornament for their loved one. In addition to the unique responses, Samantha, fiance of Preston, sent this picture of her Christmas tree that I thought would make a great lead picture for this week’s message. Samantha wrote, “Christmas was my favorite holiday and I went all out. Preston went along with it to make me happy. When we went to get ornaments for our first tree together, he picked them all out. He wanted to go with a patriotic theme (red, white and blue). Some of my favorite memories are decorating the tree together. Now that he’s passed, I’ll continue the tradition of having an American-themed tree each year and use the ornaments that he picked out.”

Enjoy this week’s message. 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 

The responses to this week’s question can be used any time of the year. We all have days that are difficult. They can be holidays, birthdays, angelversaries, or other times that can be tough. We also have other family members and friends who need to know we care about them. This week’s question is: How do you let others close to you know you still love them while you are grieving? We look forward to your responses. 

We can honor our loved ones by communicating with each other through writing. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. 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 week’s Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send it to me by Tuesday morning of the following week. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.


♫ Song for the Week

Basmattie, mother of Kris, sent the song for the week which is “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” which is one that she said he loved. 

You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address.


Answers from Survivors

Responses from Survivors to last week’s question: If you could give your loved one an ornament today, what would the ornament symbolize?

From Debby, wife of Thomas E: If I was able to give Tom a Christmas ornament, I think it would probably be a Salvation Army kettle. Tom never was able to pass one by without putting some money into it. The last Christmas that Tom was alive, there was a little red-headed boy outside of the grocery store that we always went to. The boy, who was about 5-years-old, was helping his dad with the bell ringing and was dancing his heart out. I remember Tom taking out his wallet again after putting in money and giving the little boy a dollar and telling him that it was for him, because he was such a good little helper.

This year, I was going into a grocery store and remembered that day and took my wallet out thinking about Tom and his kettle donations, and as I was putting money into the kettle I noticed a shiny penny laying on the top of the red kettle... it made me smile and I knew then that Tom was showing me he approved. Even if there wasn’t a little red-headed boy dancing his little heart out this time.

From Larry, husband of Alice: If I could give my spouse in heaven an ornament today, it would symbolize “love.” She was the love of my life; everything she did was in the name of love. She loved God, family and herself. She loved everybody and she lived it. You can’t do what she did and not go to heaven. I love her so much and I know how much she loved me. I tell her thank you everyday. It’s tough, but I think of her love in these times of the year as well as everyday. Looking back makes me wonder what God’s plan is. I’m often stuck. I try to let her light lead my actions and live loved.

From Debbie, wife of Thomas G: I would give an ornament that was a circle of mirrors, so he could see the hero he is as the son, the husband and father. He was the gift and is to so many. I would like him to see himself as every mirror shows how incredibly special he was and is to every person he made as a friend and to see how loved he is. I don't think he really knew what a joyful impact he had on people. I wish he realized it, so an ornament that is a circle of mirrors would let him to see for himself what he meant and did through his life's circle.

Judys ornament on her tree

From Judy, mother of Nathan: If I could give my son an ornament today, I would give him one that symbolizes hope. Hope for a future. Operative word: future. A future he felt he had a part in. Hope for a future where he felt he mattered. A future full of love and a future where he felt surrounded by people who he knew in his soul would be there to support him. When Nathan died, I thought hope was gone. Over time, I realize I do have hope. Hope for a future with joy. With a lot of hard and continuous grief work, I have experienced joy since Nathan died. Matter of fact, now that I write this, I will add a “Hope” ornament to my tree this year.

From Beth, former spouse of Thomas: My spouse, Tom, loved many things — scuba diving, his Corvette, his Honda Blackbird motorcycle, being a locksmith and computers. His bipolar disorder caused him to take his life. I have been working on a star that says hope. I wish that I could have given Tom an ornament that said "Hope." Maybe that would have encouraged him to survive and know that the future could always be brighter.

From Andi, mother of Jacob: When my Jacob was a boy, we would do an ornament-making project every December so he could give them as gifts to his grandparents, aunts, uncles and teachers. In 2001, we glued his school picture to old computer software CDs and decorated them with fancy paper, stars, buttons and glitter glue. That one is still hanging on his grandparents’ refrigerator. His last Christmas in 2016 I Mod Podged family photos onto refrigerator magnets for his apartment. This year I wish he were here to make Swedish Stars out of folded paper, which I just learned how to do on YouTube. I got glitter spray for them, which I know he would love! If I could give him something, I would give him another chance to make ornaments for everyone who loves him. It’s so hard to go on without him and find a way to celebrate, but I am trying.

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.


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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.  

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 800-959-8277.