Saturday Morning Message: Living A Life With Honor

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

In the latest issue of TAPS Magazine, author Alan Wolfelt shares his thoughts about using the word reconciliation instead of closure when talking about our feelings around the death of a loved one. He wrote, “Reconciling our grief means integrating our new reality of a life without the physical presence of the person who died. Not just surviving, but really living, even thriving.” This seemed to fit with this week’s topic about living our lives while honoring our loved ones.

The picture this morning comes from Sheryl, mother of Adam. Sheryl wrote, “I sponsored mileage markers in Adam's name on a hiking/biking trail in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Less than a year before his death, he hiked the entire 108 miles of the trail. In September, family members and I will make a pilgrimage to visit the markers. It will be Adam's son's first visit to the sites.” You will read more about what Sheryl does later in the message.

Mileage marker on a hiking/biking trail in the Black Hills of South Dakota

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 online@taps.org.

Hugs,
Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon

 

Answers from Survivors

Responses from Survivors to last week's question: What are you doing to honor your loved one's service while learning to live a life without his/her physical presence?

From Sheryl, mother of Adam: I try to honor Adam's service in a lot of little ways. This included helping to organize support for Run for the Fallen when it went through Iowa. I also participate in and support organizations financially with time and kind words. More personally, I speak Adam's name often. As much as we cry, plead, and beg — our loved ones will not return to us in this realm. The best we can do is honor them and live our lives well in their memories.

From Winona, spouse of Clifford: We will have a birthday celebration for Cliff the weekend of his birthday, Sept. 7. We buy birthday presents, little things he enjoyed. Then I donate them to the Salvation Army, his favorite charity to help others for Christmas. It's fun, it keeps his memory alive, provides comfort and healing and it helps others.

From Essie, mother of Tysheena: I have been doing this since Tysheena transitioned into paradise three years ago. Just recently one of my co-workers had a son graduate from high school and his dream is to serve our country in the Army. I am very close to this co-worker and we share everything about our kids since they are the same age and both graduated this year. When she told me his wishes, she looked at me and said, "Essie, I am scared." I told her, it’s natural because we are mommies, but if he's dedicated and really wants this, support him with everything you have. Just keep him lifted in prayer and support and encourage him. Needless to say, he has done extremely well on his ASVAB exam and passed his physical with high marks. He did his training in the exact same facility as Tysheena did in Brooklyn, New York. Though I very much miss my baby, I still encourage others to follow their dream of service to our country. Regardless of my experience dealing with the loss of my daughter, I continue to support and encourage our youth to serve and thrive in our armed forces. I am so proud of my co-worker’s son. He is so happy, focused and very serious about his service to his country. I gave her words of encouragement and she's a praying mother just like myself, so she is full of faith and hope for her son.

From Beth, ex-spouse of Thomas: I just celebrated the first year without Tom. I also found out that one of my former students who just graduated 8th grade in June died by suicide. Before he died, Tom wanted me to start going to church and get healthier by exercising and losing weight. I decided that in honor of Tom, I am going to not only achieve those two goals, but I also want to somehow give back to TAPS by becoming a Peer Mentor next year. I also am trying to compile a list of books for kids that deal with death and depression and learn how to teach grief yoga. Tom wanted me to move forward and honor him by helping others deal with depression.

From Samira, mother of Andres: I honor my son, Andres, by going to the cemetery with flowers. I help people in Venezuela by sending food, clothes and personal hygiene items. Venezuela is suffering from a lot of poverty and I feel better helping them. I do it in memory of my son, Andres. He loved to help.

My brother has a restaurant business in Venezuela, and on one visit with Andres, a child was selling pencils and pens. Andres asked me if could help and I said, “Yes, of course.” Andres told his uncle the child was hungry and to please give them free food. Andres was a kind person.

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 online@taps.org and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.

 

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message

Many of us enjoy traveling to favorite areas. Let’s share those meaningful places we enjoyed with our loved ones. The question this week: Is there a place you and your loved one went that is special just for the two of you? We look forward to reading your responses. 

We can honor our loved ones by communicating with each other through writing. 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 morning of the following week. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.

 

♫ Song for the Week

Cheryl, mother of Jack sent the song this week which is "Save a Place for Me" by Matthew West who dedicated it to his mother whom he admired. The lyrics seemed to fit perfectly with this week’s theme.

A survivor once suggested we include a song of the week, which has now become a weekly feature. If you have a song that is special to you or reminds you of your loved one, please send it to me at online@taps.org. along with a sentence or two about what makes this song meaningful to you. One of our contributors, Andy, father of Danny, makes a free playlist available to you on Spotify of the songs that appear in the Saturday Morning Messages along with a few other songs special to him. The playlist is called TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) Songs of Love and Remembrance.

You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at online@taps.org.


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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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!

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.

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, 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 household income? How has the pandemic made an impact on your life? 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. Please tell us more by taking our COVID-19 Military Survivor Impact Survey. Those who take the survey will receive a discount to the TAPS Store, in appreciation for their valuable feedback.


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.