Saturday Morning Message: The Compassion of TAPS Mentors

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

Volunteers are important to TAPS. This week the focus is on the group called mentors. TAPS legacy and military mentors contribute by giving children support as they participate in TAPS programs.

Peer mentors are survivors who are 18 months beyond their own loss and have been trained by peer professionals. They are ready to offer a hand to others, so they are assigned to newer survivors who have the same relationship to the deceased and have suffered a similar loss. “Stronger Together” by Lalaine Estella is an article with a mentor and her mentee discussing their relationship and how they help each other out. In the Response section of today’s message, other survivors share about their relationships with mentors. After reading today’s message, you might want to Request a Peer Mentor or Become a Peer Mentor.

Group photos of TAPS Peer Mentors

New feature on our TAPS website Events Page: On the right side of the events page, there is now a new feature allowing us to search events by zip code. When you enter your zip code, TAPS events within 150 miles will be shown. This should be helpful to not only find TAPS programs, but also to locate Care Groups and meetups gathering in your community. Also, this feature will be wonderful help if you’re traveling. Now, you'll be able to plan ahead and find TAPS events wherever you will be. 

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 online@taps.org.

Hugs,
Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon

 

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

This week’s question comes from a TAPS Care Group and will hopefully help us with self care. Andy, father of Daniel, leads this group and sent the question. He wrote, “Our grief is ours alone, but we’ve seen many others handle grief in their own, sometimes quite different, way.” Sharing our strategies may help others, so this week’s question is: What is something you use as a tool to help you when grief gets tough? 

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

Lorena, mother of Juan, sent the songs for this week. Lorena wrote, “These two songs make me remember my dear son. “One Hell of an Amen” because he passed while serving and his friend told us to play it during his services. “Humble and Kind” because that is what the family remembers the most about my son. He had great manners. 

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

 

ANSWERS FROM SURVIVORS

Responses from Survivors to last week’s question: How has your TAPS mentor made an impact on your life or those in your family?

From Tabitha, wife of Michael: So often I receive lip service when it comes to talking about my husband. Yes, people feel bad for me, but if you haven't gone through the experience you don't know what to say and what to NOT say. There may be empathy from others, but not always true understanding.

The people chosen to be mentors aren't giving you lip service. They know what you are going through and they can truthfully relate. They have been where you are and can help you out of the hole you may be in. I use my mentor usually when I am in crisis and she always talks me down. She truly understands my grief and helps guide me through it. Any hour of the day, any subject she is there. And sometimes just knowing she is there, gives me comfort.

From Cheryl, mother of Jack: I will always remember that my Peer Mentor asked me, “I did not know Jack, can you tell me about him?” That is exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to tell the whole world about Jack! She knew just what I needed. I am so thankful that I got to talk to her. She was a blessing to me.

From Rachel, sister of Kenneth: My mentor,Kari, sister of Donald, has been amazing! She's texted, emailed and called. At this point I feel like I've known her for years even though I've never met her. We're hoping to meet up at a siblings retreat sometime this year. She's the one person in my life who really "gets it" and I find that I can work through my thoughts by talking to her. It helps me to start to understand how I feel and why. She's also given me such great things to think about that have changed my perspective on my brother's death. I know I could call her day or night and she'd answer and talk me through whatever I had going on. I am so extremely thankful for her and so grateful that TAPS assigned me to her. I couldn't imagine going through this journey without her!

From Lonnie, wife of Larry: I don’t know where my life would be without Jennifer, wife of Seth, my TAPS mentor.  She helped balance me when I did not think it was possible. She spent countless hours on the phone listening to my distress, assisted in finding me counseling, as well as help with the benefits end. I can still recall her telling me how one progresses through a suicide loss and that life becomes the “new norm.” It’s a term I’ll never forget. And her caseload of people like me is impossible, yet she still managed time to check in with me to see how I was doing. 

TAPS is a wonderful organization for guiding you through the roughest part of the journey and helping you get to where you need to be, even though at the time you think it not possible to get over the pain and grief. Even though any loss is awful, sudden loss which is unpredictable and you have no control over throws you in such a tailspin you feel completely inconsolable without any future ahead of you. I’ve learned so much being on this side of it. And a TAPS mentor is able to relate to your situation, whereas friends and family don’t grasp the full concept of what you are experiencing. I cannot say enough kind things about the TAPS organization.

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.


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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Join Us for the Next Virtual Seminar

Please join us for our September Virtual Military Survivor Seminar, September 18 and 19. This two-day event will begin on Friday evening with Sharing Groups and conclude with a session on meditative movement. Activities begin at 2 p.m. Eastern on Saturday and will be presented at no cost to you. Our sessions will be led by experts in the field of grief and loss, offering opportunities for you to gain tools and resources. 

#ListenLearnLove 

The TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar is going virtual. Held October 16-18, you will hear from others who have walked the road you are traveling. Sessions will offer vital information on anxiety, loss and family dynamics, talking to children and more. The grief that follows suicide loss can be uniquely complicated. You are not alone, and we invite you to join us for a time of hope and healing. 

Peer Mentor Training 

Looking for a chance to give back? You've been through the early days of grief and remember how connecting to TAPS was helpful to you. You remember when another reached out a hand to you to share the journey. Now you may be ready to help someone else. TAPS Peer Mentors are survivors who are 18 months beyond their loss and feel ready to be a companion to another. You may even find that opening your heart to another will offer you continued healing as well. Become a TAPS Peer Mentor.

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

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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

Those who take the survey will receive a discount to the TAPS store for providing this important and valuable feedback. 
 

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AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support TAPS every time you shop, at no cost to you. Visit smile.amazon.com, log in, and select TAPS as your charity of choice. Amazon will give 0.5% of your eligible purchases to TAPS.


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.