Saturday Morning Message: Lifting Our Spirits

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

This week, in addition to the responses to the question about lifting spirits, there were a variety of pictures included. The lead picture comes from Kelsey, mother of Michael. You will read her explanation later in the message. We all have such unique ways of creating a way to lift our spirits when we are down. I know you will find those who wrote this week to have imaginative ideas.

Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message was created so survivors can share questions and read how others respond. By sharing coping strategies, together we become stronger. I am always looking for questions for future messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you.

One suggestion a survivor had was to include a song of the week, which is now a weekly section. If you have a song that is special to you or reminds you of your loved one, please send it along with a sentence or two about what makes this song distinctive. One of our contributors, Andy, father of Danny, makes a playlist on Spotify of the songs that appear in the Saturday Morning Messages along with a few other songs special to him. You can sign up for Spotify for free to listen to the playlist. The playlist is called “Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Songs of Love and Remembrance.” I often listen to it and think of our TAPS family while I am on the computer.

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. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. 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 it to me by Tuesday afternoon of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature.

Hugs,
Carol 

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

We haven’t had a question about memories for a long time, so this week’s question comes from Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew. She wrote, “Do you focus on just the good memories of your loved one or also visit, remember and even laugh at the other times? For example, here is one: My son loved taking long showers and singing Pavarotti or rap songs all during his grooming time. Finally, I had to say: 'Hey, Andy, enough is enough!'" What is a memory of your loved one you would like to share for all to enjoy?

Song for the Week

From Julia, mother of Tyler: The song we played at our boy’s funeral was “Heaven Needed a Hero” by Jo Dee Messina. It’s a perfect tribute for a soldier. It has given us comfort for many months since then.

Answers from Survivors

Last week's question: When you are keenly feeling your loss, what is your "go to" thought to lift your spirits? You could also write about a place you go when you are feeling down.

Saturday Morning MessageFrom Kelsey, mother of Michael: My go-to is two-fold. I write copious random lists and then throw them out later. It helps me focus my mind on the task, not the overwhelming grief. If I require physical activities then I go to my woodshop and build something. My grandson, my son's nephew and I poured ourselves into a Christmas yard display last year, and I built this entertainment center.

From Joanne, mother of William: When I am down, I go to my memories of William as a child and the man he had become. He loved helping and guiding the new guys that came into Fort Hood. He had a smile that would light up a room. What helps me the most are the stories his battle buddies have told me and their friendship.  

I really don’t have that place to go to because he is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. I do believe that is what has taken me so long to heal. I finally reached out to TAPS about two years ago. I was contacted by a sweet and wonderful woman who just took the time to listen to me. I was able to attend the TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar last year and the difference that made in my life was my turning point. I went there with one foot in the grave and walked out with two feet on the ground. The past ten months have made a great difference in my life.

Saturday Morning MessageFrom Michele, mother of Stephen: When I am in my sad place, I often look at this picture, which puts a smile on my face. He was an old soul, but a happy man with such good qualities. Looking at his smile I see other things in my head like Stephen coming up the driveway on a sunny afternoon, windows down in the Explorer and him singing, "Ain't That a Kick in the Head " by Dean Martin with such a big grin on his face, or when he and I were out one time for my birthday (of course, with a few drinks under our belts), and on the way home, he put a Polish CD on, turned up the volume, then began singing a Polish folk song, with that same grin. His smile will always warm my heart and make me feel he is always with me.

From Samira, mother of Andres: When I feel down, I pray and hug my son, Andres’ pillow. Also, I live in Florida, so I escape to the Disney theme parks and go shopping.

Saturday Morning MessageFrom Alida, mother of Nathan: I grew up near a beach and it was, for me, a place of contemplation — a place where I could talk to God, clear my head, and sort things out. The beach at Oceanside Pier had become the same type of place for Nathan. My favorite place is the beach. I no longer live near the coast. I have to go there in my mind. When I am in southern California, I always visit Oceanside Pier.

From Merry, mother of Wesley: There are two places I can sit and reflect. There are times when I feel I need to talk with Wes to ask him if he can see me, please help me in my situation.  I visit his grave and then I can go visit his tree in the park where he used to meet with friends. And, of course, there is that special place about an hour into the mountains that I can hike. Nature is so healing. I can always call on my heavenly father wherever I am.


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.