Saturday Morning Message: Kindness for the Grieving
Author: Carol Lane
The replies from survivors to this week’s question all centered around the people who reached out to them not only in the early days, but who continued on past the memorials. It was the same for me. I value those in my community who talk about their memories of Bryon and I try to let them know how much that means. This week’s lead picture shows a staff member and a survivor at a TAPS seminar talking. One of the things I like about going to a seminar is doing just that as we share memories of our loved ones. The question for the upcoming week will let us do just that. I look forward to the responses that will be published next week.
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. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing 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 morning of the following week. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.
Mother of Bryon
Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message
Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew, sent this question: Why did your loved one join the military? I thought it would be a good question to introduce a part of our loved ones to each other. We look forward to your responses.
♫ Song for the Week
Leslie, mother of Eugene, sent this week’s song which is So Far Away sung by Carole King. Leslie wrote, “Just sitting here thinking of my son, Eugene, after one of his friends posted he just turned 40. The photo was of all Gene’s buddies from high school. And I thought of this song. Did I see a space in that photo or just wish he was standing there?”
Answers from Survivors
Responses from Survivors to last week’s question: What was or were the kindest things said or done for you that pierced your grief fog early in your loss?
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 email@example.com and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.
From Laura and Lyle, parents of Steven: As soon as we were notified by the Navy CACO that Steven was 'missing at sea' in the South China Sea and the search was underway, we planned a flight to Japan to be with our daughter-in-law and two toddler grandsons. The evening before we left, they called off the search and deemed Steven deceased. About a week after we arrived in Japan, members of our daughter-in-law’s family arrived as well. We were all tired, crowded, sad, stressed and feeling stuck together on the base as we awaited and somewhat dreaded the upcoming ship’s memorial service before all of us would return to the states. A chaplain and his wife took my husband and me for the day. They counseled us in the two-hour car ride to our destination with 'facts' to cling to and how to find hope in desperation and hope for us for the future, as Steven was our only child. They took us shopping, took us to eat, and on the two-hour car ride back, told us about how they would be our friends for life (and they are). They prayed with us, cried with us, and laughed with us. We felt renewed and looked forward to the memorial the ship would have to honor Steven.
We often grab our 'facts to cling to' for comfort and have found a new hope for the future through our daughter-in-law and toddler grandsons. The couple continues to call us and check on us often. We are blessed by them. It has been 10 months since Steven was missing at sea, we miss him terribly and we are very grateful for tangible words of wisdom given to us early in our loss.
From Essie, mother of Tysheena: My family and my childhood family rallied around me. Everyone assisted in any way they could without thought or question. My best friend came and cried with me for hours and my other best friend came and prayed with me. My in-laws drove from Maryland straight to me without thought. Mostly, my husband is the best — always by my side 10,000 percent.
From Sandra, mother of Joshua: After hearing that my oldest son Josh had passed away, my nephew Jacob was my "first responder." Jacob contacted me and came over. We were on our way to pick up some burgers at Whataburger when the two Casualty Assistance Officers knocked on my door. My youngest son answered the door. We already knew that Josh had died in the military hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. The CAOs stayed with me for hours, asking me how I was feeling, asking me about Josh and his girls, and making sure that I was all right. One CAO would be a constant in my life for the next few weeks. He checked on me every day, came over, and helped me fill out the tons of paperwork.
There was such an outpouring of love. Friends and family surrounded my husband and me at the wake, the funeral, and the luncheon. They were our support. There were so many beautiful things said to me about my son Joshua and it made me feel so proud, although I was so sad. So very sad. The grief was physically and mentally devastating. I could not have gotten through it without my family and friends.
From Kellye, wife of Thomas: The first words I heard from TAPS were, “Welcome to the TAPS family. You’re not alone. We’ve got you.” They then went on to explain that everyone at TAPS was a survivor and knew the horrific pain and sadness I was going through. I cannot even explain the sudden relief I felt. To know that I was safe.
Right after my husband died, I seriously didn’t know which way was up. I felt like I had gotten thrown under a massive waterfall and couldn’t come up for air. TAPS was my ‘air’ for my early days. They called several times a day, just to help me breathe. I cannot even say thank you for my Peer Mentor Sara’s and everyone else’s kindness. They were able to calm me down and shine a light onto my path. I seriously don’t have the words to express my thank you to TAPS. Thank you, Bonnie, for saving my life.
From Leslie, mother of Eugene: From the moment I received the call no one ever wants, all I thought about was my loss. My son was gone and as far as I was concerned I was the only one in pain. I couldn’t look at the wall in my apartment, because all I saw was my son. I moved. Then someone told me to look around and think about who else was in pain, like my dad and my surviving son. It was hard to believe anyone else could hurt as much as I was hurting, but they were. I had to not only help them but acknowledge their pain and their right to be in pain. Then I didn't feel so alone.