Saturday Morning Message: The Comfort of Pets

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

This week you will read how pets have helped some survivors cope with the pain of grief. Pets can be just the comfort we need in those trying times. They remind us to take care of ourselves since they need to eat and do the typical things in the day that help organize us. They also can cuddle up and help us feel the love they give unconditionally when we are feeling down. 

The opening picture this week is one sent by Samantha, wife of Dean. It is oneof she and their dog Papi (Pops). I chose this picture because it shows signs of spring and many of you know that spring has come late to those of us in the northeast this year. You will read Samantha’s full response in the survivor section of today’s message.

Thank you for all who responded this week and those who are reading this message. You are an important part of the Saturday Morning Message.

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon

Survivor with their petSamantha and Papi


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

Mother’s Day is tomorrow. This can be hard for those whose mother died and those who have lost a child. It may help to plan ahead. Think about what would bring you the most comfort. It might be spending the day alone or being with other people. Take your time and think. Then share your ideas by responding to today’s question. Then we can have a list of strategies to help cope with other special days that come up during the year, like birthdays and angelversaries.The question this week is: What are your plans or what did you do to honor your mother or yourself on Mother’s Day?


 Song for the Week 

There are so many survivors who write answers to the Saturday Morning Message questions at 3 a.m. that I thought this song The Words I Would Say sung by the Sidewalk Prophets and sent by Cheryl, mother of Jack would be a great song this week. Enjoy the uplifting words of the song.


Answers from Survivors

Responses from Survivors to last week’s question: Have you had an experience with an animal that has helped you with your grief?

From Samantha, wife of Dean: Our dog Papi (Pops) is an elderly English Mastiff. When my husband Dean died last July, he was literally the reason I stayed around instead of joining my husband. I knew he was grieving, too, but he never leaves my side, sleeps right next to me, licks my tears away and knows when I need support by placing his head in my lap. When most people deserted me including my husband’s family, I struggled to keep going. Now I am doing much better, but I am preparing myself for the inevitable. I know his health is failing and it won't be much longer before I have to make that decision, but I know he will tell me when the time is right. He is literally my rock and has been a huge blessing. Dogs really are the most amazing animals.

Andrew's catDandylion

From Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew: Funny how pets can change your life. I was always a dog person, but when Andy went on his first big training mission, his wife of 6 months called me to say “Bonnie, I am coming home and will be there about 1 or 2 a.m.”  You do not have to stay up, but leave the door unlocked please."

Of course, I was up for her. She came in and opened up her pocketbook and pulled out this little 4 week old kitten. She said it was the last one being thrown out into the parking lot of the Walmart where she stopped on the way here.

Oh my! I had just quit my job and put my home up for sale with no job, no plans of where to move, etc. Why a new daughter-in-law would do this is beyond me!

Well, 14 years later it is Dandylion and me. She got her name because no one could kill her and she is yellow. The thing is this: I need no alarm clock anymore at all. Of course, I am retired, but then again that does not mean a leisurely sleep-in whenever I want. Dandy needs her chicken stew each morning and she will get it. She sleeps with me every night and purrs, but around 6 a.m. if I am not up yet, she taps me on the nose or forehead until I get up laughing! She is HUNGRY! I can never wake up without playing with her under the covers for a while. Sort of like she is the ninja under the covers going to save the world with her karate moves and simple paws! I call it “Good Mourning Morning.”

Stephen and his dogStephen and Bailey

From Michele, mother of Stephen: My oldest son has a dog. After the funeral of my youngest son, my oldest son had to go back home and left our grand dog, Bailey, with us. I can truly say, my little grand dog gave me such comfort, and still does. He warms my heart, and when he sits on my lap to be loved, it makes my heart feel good.



Michael's dogSchotzie

From Tabitha, wife of Michael: My husband and I used to joke that his dog Schotzie was our child. The dog’s opinion actually factored in a lot while we were dating. When my husband passed, Schotzie took up the role as protector. He did things that I had never seen before. He cuddled with me through the night, getting up only after I fell asleep. He positioned himself in any room and any doorways, so that he could see out. But he was very old when I came into the relationship and I ended up having to put him to sleep so that he would no longer suffer in this world. Leading up to his passing, he had started to have micro seizures. He was getting treated for a lot of different medical issues and I just did not want to let him go. So, one night I talked to my husband. I asked him to send me a sign about Schotzie. I needed to know whether or not it was time. I even thought that he better make it a big sign, because I am extremely stubborn. I got my sign the next day. I came home from work and Schotzie did not greet me at the door. This was happening more and more as he was almost entirely deaf. I went upstairs to see if I could find him. He was huddled in the bathroom going through the tail end of a seizure. He was afraid and he thought he was in trouble because there was a mess everytime he had a seizure. I knew at that moment that Mike had sent me a sign and Schotzie was ready to cross. It was in that very sad moment that I experienced some deep joy. Because with this sign, I knew my husband was still with me, still listening, and able to guide me. It was sad to loose 'our kid' but I knew it was time and that gave me a lot of inner peace.

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 and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them. 

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. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing 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 your response to me by Tuesday morning of the following week. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.

Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS Family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).