Peer Mentors Bring TAPS Care Groups to More Local Communities
Volunteer Peer Mentors and mental health professionals facilitated over 560 TAPS Care Groups in 2019, up from 280 groups the previous year.
The dedication of these volunteers made it possible for survivors in more than 50 communities in 26 states to have the compassionate support of others who have lived through similar losses. TAPS Peer Mentors gave their time to create a place where survivors could give and receive peer support and build strong relationships that help sustain them through their grief.
One Care Group facilitator shared, “This week a surviving mother who had been extremely depressed since the loss of her son expressed that she is pushing everyone away. She just can't get past the pain. She opened up and the entire group was very encouraging and complimented her about even coming to the group. It was really sweet and amazing to see her smile and interact with the group. By the end she said she was so thankful that she came because she had felt so alone in her pain, but now knows that others truly know how she feels. It was amazing to watch her progress in just a little over an hour!”
Over 90 TAPS Peer Mentors supported TAPS Care Groups, volunteering nearly 6,000 hours to the monthly meetings and providing other support to individual survivors.
"I have so much to be thankful for. I am grateful to be able to sit among other parents and hear their stories of love and survival. Together we are all making a difference,” Denise, a TAPS Care Group Peer Mentor, said.
Mental health professionals donated an additional 900 hours. Angela, one of those professionals, said, “We had many survivors attend and everyone stayed through till the end and left expressing enthusiasm for future meetings. There was great sharing of stories, ideas, information, encouraging each other around self-care and advocacy!”
Many Experience Breakthroughs in Care Groups
Almost 2,500 survivors attended TAPS Care Groups in 2019, gaining a deeper understanding of TAPS resources and events.
“A widowed mother shared some challenges about her grieving child’s complicated grief pattern, and how she will need additional casework assistance from TAPS. I felt good knowing that, because of our meeting, she understood a little better how TAPS casework works,” said Amy, a TAPS Care Group facilitator.
TAPS Care Groups foster, for survivors, the experience of trusting and being trusted as they exchange stories, share their loved ones, and explore their lives with one another.
“The beginnings of some real grief work has started for some, and all seem to find it a great resource and safe place,” said Kim, a volunteer mental health professional.
Laurie, a Care Group facilitator said, “All of the attendees were fairly new to TAPS. They received the email and decided to give it a try. There was definitely a need for the group. Everyone seemed so happy to have found it.”
Amy, another facilitator shared, “One surviving spouse had more breakthroughs at our Care Group meeting this month, as she laughed for the first time in a long time. She was able to find some humor in a substantial setback in her home."Grief brain" has caused some lapse in memory recently. In an effort to spring-clean her home, she accidentally left bathtub water running for hours, which ultimately required contractors, mold remediation, and lots of other hassles. We found some normalcy and validation in this chaotic time and she was able to let so many heavy emotions settle, then pass with laughter. We said many times, "We can do hard things." She realized in the midst of our conversation that this was the first time doing hard things without the support of her husband. She cried and then quickly boasted about finding strength she didn't know she had! She felt a great sense of pride.”