Saturday Morning Message: Honoring Our Loved Ones
Author: Carol Lane
This week survivors wrote a variety of ways they honor their loved ones. This picture seems to exemplify this. It shows a TAPS parachute with the Army veteran jumper holding the American flag. In this way TAPS honors those who have passed while serving our country. I am going to keep my comments short so you can get to all the wonderful responses that came in this week
Remember, you can write to me anytime — to contribute, subscribe 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 email@example.com.
Mother of Bryon
Answers from Survivors
Responses from Survivors to the question: What are you doing to honor your loved one?
From Robin, mother of Steven: Honoring our loved one doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. My girls have run 5ks that benefit various veteran organizations. My husband and I volunteered with a local organization that takes veterans on free trips and provides social gatherings for their families. I did something I never thought I’d do. I got a tattoo. It’s provided the opportunity to talk about our son and bring awareness to the way he died.
We stay in touch with his “brothers.” My husband will start a conversation with people he thinks may have a military service connection and eventually asks “How are you doing really?” He’s prepared to give them his phone number and help them find what they need. I hope there is something here that helps you honor your loved one. They all deserve to be honored, no matter the circumstances.
From Jeanette, mother of Brandon: I am becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer which is an advocate for children who are in foster care. You speak and spend time with them. Then you speak with family, friends, teachers, etc. After that you provide your opinion to the court. Chuck and I are trying to work as a couple, especially for deaf children. In that way, I may have a positive impact on a foster child's life.
From Jill, mother of Derek: While I have many traditions to keep my son Derek’s memories alive, by far my favorite is mentoring with TAPS. I get to talk with other survivors who understand the need to hear our children's names daily and to laugh and cry together as we travel this journey none of us wanted to take.
I have had so many blessings since Derek's death -silver linings, if you will - that led me to mentoring. I had an amazing relationship with my casualty assistance officer (he's just an angel in uniform), multiple get togethers with Derek's colonel and an ongoing attachment to the gentleman that was housing Derek when he died. All these make me realize that the human connection is so incredible. Maybe even more incredible in the time of tragedy.
Each day all these people help me keep Derek alive. And I thank each and every one of them for that incredible gift and I love to share that gift with others.
From Terry, mother of Anthony: We try to honor my son by raising awareness for PTSD. We started a few years ago doing a motorcycle ride (any vehicle is welcome) to raise money for an organization here that helps vets with PTSD. My son passed on August 3, so it's always held on the Saturday closest to that date.
From Karl, father of Tre: Every year I have attended the "Let Us Never Forget" scholarship banquet outside Cincinnati, Ohio, sponsored by the Yellow Ribbon Support Center. It was set up by the parents of Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin and has grown immensely. It provides scholarships in the name of their fallen. I select a person from their submitted entries. I then go to my son’s high school and present it on scholarship night. I stay active on Twitter supporting veterans and promoting the children's book I have written in honor of the fallen and all veterans. I will not let anyone forget our children's sacrifices until the day I die.
From Belinda, mother of Benjamin: I am honoring my son by working with American Gold Star Mothers and being involved with TAPS, especially being a Peer Mentor.
The West Virginia legislature passed a resolution to name a bridge on I-64 in memory of Benjamin. We will be having a dedication ceremony and reception on June 14.
From Beth, former spouse of Thomas: In memory of my former spouse, I started going to church and improving my health. I also am becoming a certified Stories, Songs and Stretches facilitator and hope to volunteer at a future TAPS grief camp and help kids to heal. I like to share with others the resources I learned from TAPS and the Survivors of Suicide support group to encourage them to get help rather than think of suicide as the answer. I also want to one day raise enough funds to put a tile on the TAPS memorial wall in Tom's honor.
From Kathleen, mother of Zacharias: To honor our son, his Navy friends and strangers in San Diego and Coronado, California, put together a Sunday street ride in 2016 from the VFW Post to follow the route Zach took home where the incident occurred, to the VFW Post in Lakeside. At the incident site, we have a Patriot Guard stand with an American Flag as we drive by in a slow procession of motorcycles and cars to salute and remember our son.
Last year we began doing fundraiser benefits in Zach's honor for the Navy SEAL Foundation and the San Jose City College Veterans Scholarship in Zach's memory. We did a day at the track and a comedy night benefit dinner. We do the Saturday fundraiser at Cahuilla Creek where we do a day at the track. The owners donate $10 out of every $30 entrance fee from the day's riders who use the track for that day. We do the Sunday night comedy benefit dinner at the VFW Hall in Lakeside. It is the same day as the street ride. Comedians volunteer their time for this benefit in Zach's memory. We pay them gas money and a free dinner for taking the time to make us all laugh. During the dinner, we show videos of Zach so those who are there to donate for these good causes in his memory can see the kind of man he was to his family, friends, the Navy and the community. We just want to be sure we honor our son, Zach, respectfully and give back to the Navy SEAL Foundation who helped us during our difficult times. If this little bit of giving back can help anyone, then we are honoring our son.
From Sandra, mother of Joshua: I honor my son by talking about him and by doing good deeds in his name. I feel comfortable talking about Josh to my TAPS family, to my grief group and to my husband, son and two grandkids. My grandkids are young and I want them to remember their daddy. He was a wonderful father who loved his two girls very much.
I also try to do good deeds to honor my son. One time, Josh bought a meal for a guy down on his luck. I now drop off a tote bag of food at least once a month to this man. This man stands at a major intersection every day, rain or shine, into the afternoon. I have learned that his name is Bobby. I suspect that he has special needs after talking with him. I have also donated to Toys for Tots, because Josh use to be a volunteer and collect toys for that particular organization. I have thanked other military men and women for their service and have met a few young veterans, who were my son's age, who just need a word of encouragement, a listening ear, or a little advice to direct them on the right path. I have also set up a little memorial in my backyard. As I sit at my desk, I look out onto a big beautiful yard with a tree that has an angel in front of it. Behind the angel lays a Texas-shaped cement stepping stone that Josh gave us. I plan on adding a chime for the tree and a birdbath. As I look out at the memorial, I think about my son, the love we had for each other and the memories I hold deep inside my heart.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.
Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message
Ellen, fiancé of David posedthis week’s question: Do you have a book you would like to share which has helped you in your grief? She said she “finds comfort in reading and knows that some seek books after a loss.” It would be helpful if you gave us the title and author as well as some information on what made this book meaningful. We look forward to your responses.
If you would like to share your experience, email email@example.com.
♫ Song for the Week
This week’s song, by Aloe Blacc, is “Ticking Bomb” and comes from Kelsey, mother of Michael. She wrote, “This is a song that speaks to my mindset and to the profound loss of my child. Those of us who have lost a loved one often answer questions about how we are doing with positive words, when inside we are dying. We have a shiny veneer like a sheet of ice on a pond. Underneath things are pandemonium, ready to explode.”
If you have a favorite song for this section, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.