Saturday Morning Message: Uplifting TAPS Experiences
Author: Carol Lane
The welcome poster that greets survivors when they enter the National Military Seminar seemed like the picture that should open this week’s Saturday Morning Message. Going to seminars are my favorite events. While I am there, I am able to chat in person with many of those who contribute to this message. In addition to the seminars, survivors have written about a variety of TAPS events and programs that have touched their lives. Therefore, I will keep my comments short. I hope you enjoy this week’s message.
Remember, you can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. I look forward to hearing from you. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mother of Bryon
Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message
The fall edition of the TAPS magazine arrived recently and I have been reading the articles. It was exciting to see Karl, father of Tre, a frequent responder to the Saturday Morning Message, have his book reviewed, along with other books by surviving parents. Reading the reviews sparked an idea for a question for this week. If you were to write a book honoring your loved one’s life, what would be the title and why? Would it be a children’s book or one for adult readers? Would it be biographical or a fictionalized story? We look forward to reading your responses.
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 never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing email@example.com. 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.
♫ Song for the Week
Debra, wife of Thomas sent the song this week which is: I’ll Never Love Again sung by Lady Gaga. Debra wrote, “I accidentally came across this song today on YouTube and thought that I would share it. It just hit a chord with me.”
You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at firstname.lastname@example.org. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address.
Answers from Survivors
Responses from Survivors to last week’s question: What TAPS event, program or other experience has meant the most to you?
From Larry, husband of Alice: TAPS has done so much to nourish my soul. Upon losing my wife, Alice, I was connected to Doug Windley. I spoke with him almost every day even after the funeral. It was a huge help as I was alone. In two months, I was able to attend the national seminar in D.C., where I met so many other survivors. It was amazing. That experience really helped with my will to move forward and ultimately helped me process my grief, with which I still struggle. I still sustain my soul by connecting through monthly video chats led by Don Lipstein. I’ve met so many wonderful others who share their stories and ideas that help you along. TAPS’ mission and the people who are involved in its support are amazing. God Bless everyone.
From Denise, mother of Mitchel: While there are several programs and events that have been valuable for my family, I have found my relationship with my Peer Mentor has been the most significant in my personal grief journey. I was matched with my mentor just five weeks after my son’s death. It was so powerful to be able to connect with another mother who could understand what I was experiencing. Alicia has been a great listener and a source of great support, understanding and encouragement. By text, on the phone, or in person over coffee, I could always share feelings or concerns with her that other people might not understand. Two years later we have moved beyond our mentor and mentee relationship. We have become friends.
From Annette, mother of Joseph: We attended the 2016 TAPS national seminar and think of it almost daily. Such an amazing event with groups for every possible scenario. There was even a group for those lost by murder. On the way to the group, I commented to my husband that we would probably be the only ones there. There were quite a few people suffering the same type loss and it was very helpful; there was also a great group leader. I got to experience going on a trapeze at 63 years old! However, besides all the wonderful people we met along the way, we saw the Marine Band and that was amazing and so moving. Joe always said we should go see them, so I know for sure he was smiling that day. Of course, the Saturday Morning Message is my other favorite.
From Sandra, mother of Joshua: I walked into a huge banquet room and looked upon hundreds of people sitting at tables covered in white linen, talking, smiling and laughing. It looked like a family reunion. I nervously sat down at one of the tables, but immediately felt at home. I was surrounded by friendly, loving and kind people. There happened to be several mentors at the table. Then a couple approached the table, greeted everyone, and knew all of the mentors at the table. They were mentors, too. I looked at their badges. I could not believe it. They were the couple that I had first talked to on the online chat. What a moment! I had been very nervous about attending the TAPS Austin Seminar all alone. Being an extrovert with a slightly shy side (my mother never believed the shy part) and going all by myself was going to be a challenge. So I had pushed myself to get to the online chat before the seminar to find out more about it. The couple had assured me that I had nothing to worry about and that they were going, too. Everybody on the online chat echoed the same sentiment. They all calmed my fears. So here I was, sitting at one of the many tables and here were the two people I had talked to on the online chat. It was incredible. That couple would check with me throughout the seminar to make sure that I was doing OK. The seminars, a parents' retreat, my wonderful advocate, and the TAPS Helpline have helped me get through my grief journey. But the one constant weekly pep rally in my life, the one program that has meant the most to me, that has kept me afloat, are the online chats. We talk about what is going on in our lives. We talk about our loved ones who have died. We chat about our grief, our families, our sadness and our joys, and our dogs and cats. We talk about our struggles, our accomplishments, our experiences, and even the weather. We talk about anything and everything. These online chats are my lifeline. They keep me connected to others who understand my grief and excruciating pain. I know they care about me. I can feel the love. So, I am very privileged to have them in my life, and very grateful for my online chat buddies.
From Valerie, wife of Stephen: Each and every event I have participated in has given me some positive experience that I will carry with me forever. When I participated in a widows’ retreat in Seattle, Washington, a few of us went together and got a tattoo of the infinity sign with a W and an S somewhere in the design. It stands for widowed sisters forever. We went rock climbing and also learned how to get on a high-flying trapeze. I met an awesome group of ladies who I will remember for the rest of my life!
I guess it has been a couple of years now since I participated in the women's empowerment retreat on Bainbridge Island. I have to mention this event, because the roommate that was assigned to me has ended up being one of my best friends. Even though she lives in Alabama and I live in Oregon, we still have a great relationship and I thank the staff for putting us together! Our last names have all the same letters in them, but just in different order which is strange in itself. We learned a lot and are still helping each other with our struggles and we are each other's strength when one of us needs a little help getting through a situation or just the day. So I would like to again thank TAPS for all you do for each and every one of us. You are our ROCK. Thank you.
If you would like to send a message thanking the participant 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.