Saturday Morning Message: Spiritual Changes
Author: Carol Lane
The lead picture today comes from the TAPS New Mexico Parents Retreat. I thought it portrayed in a balloon heading up to the sky, our thoughts ascending to the spiritual part of our lives. When a loved one dies, we go through many shifts as our life changes direction. We begin to look at what we need to keep and what we should leave behind.
I do my best thinking when I am alone in a wooded area or working in my garden. Now that is a bit difficult in the winter when you live in a northern state like I do, so going to church especially during the times with music playing and all is quiet can be just as effective. I found that in addition to quiet, there had to be times when I was around other people who didn’t push me to do too much and allowed me to choose where I could best serve. Not all churches were the same. So I began attending a variety of them, listening to others at coffee hour and seeing if this was the right place for me. I finally think I have found one where I can participate as much as I feel I am able while giving myself time to just relax and not be going all the time. By the way, the music is outstanding. The ability to realize that I can make a choice with my spiritual life whether it is inside or outside is the change that I have made since my son’s accident. Today’s responses demonstrate the different ways others have seen spiritual changes in their lives.
Many people have sent songs in for the Saturday Morning Message. I will let you know when your song will appear as the song of the week. What I really need now are topics or questions that you have about the grieving process. I look forward to hearing from you.
To respond to this week’s question send an email to firstname.lastname@example.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 it to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature. You can also send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week. Just send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.
In our new Online Community page, there is a blog section. Essie wrote this thank you and I wanted to make sure everyone from the Saturday Morning Message saw it:
From Essie, mother of Tysheena: Good morning TAPS family! Today is a beautiful day because if you are reading this then you are amongst the living. I just wanted to check in and say thank you all for the kind words and inspirational advice that has been given.
Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message
Often we find ourselves coping with the deaths of several family members or friends who are close to us, so this week’s question comes from Merry, mother of Wesley. She asked for suggestions from those of you who have experienced this. Her question is: "How do others cope with subsequent deaths of close family members and close friends?" We look forward to your responses.
Song for the Week
Kim, mother of Thomas: Since our son’s sudden transition into Heaven, I have found myself searching for answers; therefore I’m seeking God more and more. He (God) has become the focal point of my life now as I seek to serve a higher purpose. As a Christian, it’s not only my duty to the Lord but also another way of honoring my son. My solace is knowing in my heart that I’ll see my son again and that’s something no one can ever take away. I have a song, Lifepoint Worship One-Takes: “Closer”, that really speaks to me and I thought I would share it with you. I love listening to it because without the Lord I don't know how I would've gotten through the last couple of years. I hope it will help someone else as much as it has helped me.
Answers from Survivors
From Michele, mother of Stephen: After Stephen passed and getting the book, “The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on the Holidays and Special Occasions” I mentioned in last week's message, a quote sticks with me to this day from that book. It is, "God doesn't cause death, he allows it because of human brokenness." It made me open up my heart more to God. My son was broken and God took him to make him whole again. He is one of God's warriors now and I feel he serves our Lord well. As much as I yearn for him, in the love I feel for our Lord, I know my son is at peace. I look now to how I may help others, in prayer or in any other ways. It helps me to keep the spirit of my son alive.
From James, father of Andrew: Things which are spiritual in nature may not be that easy to see or perceive, which makes it easier not to pay attention to them or to consider that they aren’t real. I believed in things considered “spiritual,” but after our son passed, he has helped me to understand the reality of “spiritual” things, even when it might be easier to question or doubt the reality of the experience.
For me, when others “passed on,” I eventually was OK that they moved on; I was alright with wherever they now were. But, when our son Andy passed, that wasn’t enough. I see myself as being more aware of things and experiences which I likely would have just missed or dismissed, especially experiences I believe to be from those who have passed on. I definitely have a more open awareness not just about things around me, but about what so often would be easy to not pay attention to. I guess that I no longer just believe in what I believe, but I have an acceptance about what I believe that I never had before.
From Kathleen, for her precious husband: My unwavering belief in God and the unconditional love my husband and I share is only fortified since his death. Our spiritual instructions are simple: love the Lord your God with your whole heart, mind and soul; love your neighbor as yourself and forgive everyone since forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself and to your God.
God's grace has allowed me an increased awareness of how much we all share the common experience of suffering for any myriad of reasons. It is our responsibility to recognize the spark of the Divine in each one of us and to assist each other in alleviating that pain. Mother Teresa's words give reason to our obligation, "We are all the Christ in all of His desperate disguises."
From Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew: My spiritual life is very strong and even stronger since my son was killed. What has changed for me is the “giving back effort.” I am fortunate to have many avenues of contact, including TAPS. This Veterans’ Day 2017, a Vo-Tech school in New Jersey picked me up and I got a gourmet lunch prepared by the kids in their new culinary café. Wonderful! More importantly, I got one-on-one talk sessions with about 8 to 12 kids who had their list of questions about my Andy. It was so precious to answer each thoughtful question, from how he was as a child, what did he love to do, did he have pets, why did he pick the Army? It was so much fun and I had a great chance to meet these incredible and interested kids. They even gave me homemade cards from the art classes with individual words and drawings for me. That may not be so spiritual to some, but to me, it was “Heaven on Earth” to see how much they cared. Our children are our future and I am so thankful and will continue to honor my son by sharing with them.
From Betty, mother of Michael: When my son Michael left for USMC boot camp in June 2005, I created a screensaver on my phone to display the words “TRUST GOD.” During his training and through deployments, every time I picked up my phone, that was the first message I saw. Over these many years, my phone has been the conduit to many messages that might have caused me to waver in that trust, but none more so than the call I received on Jan. 9, 2016, notifying me of my son’s death. The shock and confusion is a surreal experience shared by so many in the TAPS family. But, as the waves of grief crashed over me with excruciating force, I could still see the words that were indelibly burned into my mind, “TRUST GOD.” Everything had changed, but God had not. So I continue to hold tighter than ever to God and listen to His voice, as I trust in Him daily to provide the strength I need, physically and emotionally, to sustain me until I see my son again.