Saturday Morning Message: Honoring Our Loved Ones

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

This week there were many unique responses to the question about how we honor our loved ones. If you are interested in recognizing your loved one by working with TAPS on a project, look at the TAPS Volunteer Central page or TAPS Peer Mentors page. The lead photo this week shows volunteers getting TAPS information ready to be sent out. After my initial grief, I started working with TAPS as a volunteer Peer Mentor which led to mailing the Saturday Morning Message to others who requested it, so every time you send a song, pose a topic or respond to a question of the week, you are honoring your loved one. Thank you to all who contributed and who read this week’s message.

Volunteers at TAPS headquarters

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.

I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing online@taps.org.  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 them to me by Tuesday of the following week. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. This week's question is located below my signature. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message. 

Hugs,
Carol

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

This week’s question allows us to share a bit of ourselves and how our thinking may have shifted. It came from Adra, mother of Kyle. She asks: What has changed in your spiritual life since your loss? We look forward to your thoughts.

Song for the Week

From Essie, mother of Tysheena: Tysheena liked rap music and R&B, so it's hard to determine a song but Panda and Keyshia Cole stand out. She liked Mary J. Blige just like I do, so that's a no problem thing to play. We would drive through Jersey City or wherever we were going singing her songs because that's what I played on the radio. I mostly will just remember her big smile. She would illuminate a room with her smile and cheer everyone up who came in contact with her. Also driving was her joy. She loved to drive. I taught her mostly, but she did driving school. She drove just like I did though, with confidence and know how. She had road rage also ... lol. She would be yelling in the car at people who cut her off and blow the horn. My daughter was comic relief. The pain of not having her here is unbearable, but I thank God for the 21 years he allowed me to have with her. She is and always will be loved and missed dearly by everyone she knows. Again, thank you for allowing me this avenue to remember my precious daughter. Not here in the physical but always present.

Essie sent “Be Without You” and “We Ride” for this week’s songs.

Answers from Survivors

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: This is my suggestion: Contact family and friends of your loved one. Ask them to write a story or favorite memory and add a picture if possible. Then put these stories and memories into a book.

From Travis, husband of Connie: Connie's favorite treat was banana cream pie, but growing up she only got it on her birthday, so I started buying her one for her birthday. Now on her birthday, I do something with banana cream pie. I ate it at her graveside one year and dropped some off at the homeless shelter one year marked from Connie. A banana cream pie was my contribution to the church potluck one year.

From Marnina, mother of Robert: My son, Robert, was in the Navy. He left this world on March 18, 2017. His birthday is coming up on Jan. 31, and he will be 31. There are days/nights when I think of him and realize he is gone. I purchased a book called “The Next Place” and have sent it to each of my siblings and their families with a short letter. I found comfort in this beautiful short book and wanted to share it with them. There were many days when all I wanted to do was be with my son. I am slowly overcoming this. I play a video just to hear his voice over and over, so I don't forget what he sounds like, or his laughter.

Bracelet charms and beadsFrom Laura, mother of Nathaniel: New traditions happened organically during my first year of bereavement. I actually began making dragonfly suncatchers and car charms by a fluke, six weeks after my son completed suicide.

One of several sleepless nights, I was cleaning my house for the third day in a row when I came across a heart-shaped crystal stone hanging by fishing line on a window. My 7-year-old son found it on a hiking trip three years ago. I had forgotten all about it and decided it was time to appreciate the little things. I gathered all of the costume jewelry made of beads I could find. With no expectations and a little Pinterest inspiration, I added elements for more sparkle and shine. It took two or three sleepless nights to complete. It was a pleasant distraction that I decided to continue, so I decided to make a car charm for an exceptionally supportive friend as a going away/thank you gift. I don’t know how long I’ll continue to bead dragonfly thank yous because I’m now painting picture frames and braiding macrame plant hangers as thank you gifts.

Which led to painting a Day of the Dead wreath for fun that leads me to celebrate the Day of the Dead. These and a couple other new traditions came without forethought. Now, I keep my eyes out for opportunities to honor my son about once a month. It’s what I do to keep his memory alive and our relationship ongoing while making new memories. But every journey and memorial is different. I believe it’s safe to assume that the underlying theme among all of us surviving loved ones is very meaningful and sacred. I’m sure yours will be, too.

From Michele, mother of Stephen: When my son passed away, I was given a book called, “The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on the Holidays and Special Occasions.” It truly was a book that I felt helped me deal with some of the grief I felt going through those special occasions. I found a bookstore online that would help me with a bulk order at a good price. Then I sent them to the Casualty Department at Fort Bliss as that is where my son was stationed and I wanted to give back to others who could use this book after losing their loved one. I felt it was a nice way to honor my son.  I, too, now belong to Soldiers Angels. There are different groups you can sign up for, sending letters, cards, packages, etc. to soldiers who are deployed. My son had letters that he kept from when he was in Afghanistan from individuals, which I felt meant a lot to him, so I decided to do the same. I belong to a letter-writing team and now am doing cards. When I did write letters, I would never mention my son being in the service or that he passed. I just tried to keep it upbeat to help them stay positive. I have found great pleasure in it and feel that I am honoring my son at the same time. I feel he is smiling down on me saying, "That is so great of you, Mom."

From Merry, mother of Wesley: A year after Wes died, I had a tree-planting service, which was very comforting. Friends and relatives who could not attend the funeral service were able to be there. I take frequent trips to the tree, which is located next to a swing set and park chairs and a baseball field. There is a small picnic table and a shelter over it where Wes and a friend spent July 4 just talking and watching fireworks. I often sit there and eat lunch or drink a cup of coffee. 

UPCOMING VIDEO AND TEXT CHATS

Visit the TAPS chat calendar for this week's chat schedule. » 

To subscribe to the Saturday Morning Message email online@taps.orgThe Saturday Morning Message is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the Saturday Morning Message is to foster peer-based connection, survivors helping survivors, for support and encouragement along the grief journey. 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 and grammatical corrections.  

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.