Saturday Morning Message: Treating Ourselves

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

For many of us the past holidays have been stressful, so the first question of 2018 is not about resolutions that can bring on more uneasiness but rather the things we do to treat ourselves. The picture today is of myself and friends at last year’s TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar. This is the treat that I look forward to each year. It is a chance to get together and give a big hug to many of the people I correspond with during the year. I am appreciative to those who wrote this week to tell us about their gifts to themselves, and I hope you will enjoy their responses.

TAPS Staff at an Event

You will notice I am running out of songs for the song of the week section. I hope you will send songs that are meaningful to you to be used in future messages.

Questions are the backbone of the Saturday Morning Message. In order to keep the Saturday Morning Message fresh, I am looking for more questions. If you have questions or topics you would like to see addressed in the Saturday Morning Message, you can email me at online@taps.org. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. In addition to replies that are placed in the message, I also look for thoughts you have. You can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. Replies to the weekly question are best sent to me by Tuesday afternoon. You are an important part of this message, and I look forward to your questions or any ideas you may have.

If you would like to send a message to 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.

Hugs,
Carol 

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

Elsie, mother of Daniel, sent the question this week. Elsie wrote, “Is there a scent that reminds you of your loved one? If so, are you comforted when you smell that scent? My son wore Drakkar Noir. I was able to purchase Drakkar Noir wax scents. When I walk into a room where the scent warmer is on, it smells like he just left the room. After all, isn’t he just in the next room?” I thought I would broaden the question a bit and ask: Is there a scent, song, sight or food that brings a memory of your loved one? Tell us a bit about it.

Answers from Survivors

From Ruth, mother of James: Hold my hand and I will travel with you. We don’t need a mission, we just need a reason to laugh, to embrace friendship, to become your support if you need me as I know you would do the same for me. I look forward to the new year because it was my son who taught me so much about love for others. Select your friends, not by the material things they have, but instead for the love they share. I promise to share laughter and not feel bad because Jimmy is not here to share. Instead, I will know that when I laugh, Jimmy is laughing with me. I promise to share new friendships and share time with them. I know if Jim could meet my new friends, he would sit back and tell his wonderful stories, a smile on his lips so you would never know if he was spinning a yarn or telling the truth. This year instead of spending so much time thinking about my loss, I will sit back and remember the wonderful gift of life we had while Jimmy was here.

From Janet, grandmother of Heath: Share your grief with others that also grieve for your loved one. Share stories of all their fun-loving ways and pranks they were involved with, their and your goof ups. The things, foods, sports, etc., that they liked or didn’t like. Break out the pictures and relive the good times. The veil is thin. Listen for that chuckle or belly laugh. Reach out in joy to others who knew or cared for your hero.

Friends and family and sometimes people you didn’t know but that your loved one did will want to share a story with you but may shy away because they fear upsetting you. Encourage sharing by you yourself sharing. This opens the door. You really do not want to miss out on parts of your loved one’s life. Grieve when and how you need to, but do not lose the joyful, loving, great person your hero was.

This is from a Gold Star grandmother whose face lights up every time I look at pictures of me/family and Heath making silly faces at me/us in them. I hear his laughter rolling. I reread letters and recall conversations and in these, I hear his voice, advice, encouragement and love.

From Karl, father of Tre: Something I do to cope with my loss is getting away. Now I know everyone doesn't have this option maybe as much as I do, but if you can go somewhere where nobody knows you, even grocery shopping in the next town, it's a plus. It may seem somewhat of a denial at first, but it helps me. I go to casinos or cruises or places where no one knows I’m a Gold Star dad. I can then "pretend" to be that more jolly person I used to be. I know my son is with me in my heart, but anyone I talk to does not have to know it as our local communities do. It's just a coping mechanism for me.

From Elsie, mother of Daniel: I’ve recently moved into a new home. It was difficult to decide to sell my home of 17 years that held so many memories. My son had planted many fruit trees and flowers and put in a wonderful vegetable garden. Daniel has been gone almost 10 years now. I know that if he were here, he would tell me, “Mom, this is now too much for you. It’s time to move to a smaller place.” Now that I’m living in town, I’m looking forward to participating in many activities around me and making new friends while keeping in contact with my old friends. And, never letting go of my memories.

From Cassie, wife of Zacharias: I was gifted a Massage Envy gift card, and I also have Spafinder gift card. I plan to take advantage of them and get at least two massages. I also am going to treat myself to some classes — either through my city or through my gym membership. I enjoy the Zumba class and the BodyPump class through 24 Hour Fitness. My city offers different classes, one of which is a line dancing class and some ballroom dancing classes. I would also like to volunteer in some way, too.

From Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew: We need to care for ourselves with love and gentleness. For each of us, that  journey will be different. That is OK as there is no wrong or right answer to this question or your decision. If you have a hobby or desire to create one, go for it! Time will allow you to re-find your passion in a small way and let it grow into a pleasurable outlet for your own personal grief. It takes time for sure but you are still here on earth, so why not let that guide you or create a new hobby that you never considered? I am not a big traveler, so my thoughts turn toward a giving back idea. This new year is a great time to explore into your own self and come up with a plan to embrace your gifts or discover them.


UPCOMING VIDEO AND TEXT CHATS

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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 illnessloss@taps.org.

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 smile.amazon.com, 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 online@taps.org.

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.