Saturday Morning Message: Comforting Suggestions from Survivors
Author: Carol Lane
Sometimes just listening, sharing memories and knowing someone cares like the two women in this picture is the most supportive thing to do when someone is grieving. My neighbor lost her husband a few weeks ago and I used some of the ideas in this message to hopefully give some comfort. I hope you will find some good ideas as well in this week’s Saturday Morning Message. There were so many wonderful responses that came this week, that I will keep my comments short.
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
TAPS Peer Mentors for adults and military mentors for children can be very helpful while grieving. The question this week comes from the TAPS Facebook page: “We are so grateful to our incredible, generous, and life-changing Peer, Legacy, and Military Mentors for making a difference in the lives of bereaved military families.” How has your TAPS mentor made an impact on your life or those in your family? In this way, we can share with others how these programs have affected our lives.
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
I was watching a special about the Carpenters this past weekend and I thought one of their songs would be perfect for the Saturday Morning Message. The title of the song is “Rainy Days and Mondays.” The song has special meaning when the lyrics run, “Funny how it seems that it’s the only thing to do — run and find the one who loves me.” Isn’t that exactly what we do when we feel down —go to our friends at TAPS through the Helpline or friends we have met. We have become a family and we love each other.
If you have a song that is special to you or reminds you of your loved one, please send it along with a sentence or two about what makes this song meaningful to you. One of our contributors, Andy, father of Danny, makes a playlist on Spotify of the songs that appear in the Saturday Morning Messages along with a few other songs special to him. You can sign up for Spotify for free to listen to the playlist. The playlist is called Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Songs of Love and Remembrance.
You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANSWERS FROM SURVIVORS
Responses from Survivors to last week’s question: What was something comforting someone did for you after the death of your loved one?
From Sandra, mother of Joshua: After the death of my son, my nephew came over immediately and stayed with me and my younger son when the two CACOs showed up at our doorstep. Jacob bought us Whataburger and stayed with us overnight. My husband was still in Norfolk after Josh had been taken off of life support. After my husband returned home, our friends, whose children had grown up with our two sons, came over with Popeye's Fried Chicken, potato salad and dessert. It felt awkward at first and I expected the visit to be so difficult, but it was so kind of them. Christine and Johnny seemed to know what to say. The kind words of caring friends were extremely comforting. At Arlington National Cemetery, my sisters Brenda and Patty, and my brother Matt would be there for me and right by my side. They walked miles to find cookies for the wake, staying overnight with me at the hotel, hauling jackets and coats to Arlington to be sure that I would be warm on the cool morning at the cemetery and checking on me to be sure I was doing all right. Helping, supporting, loving, and consoling me. All for one and one for all. Friends and family were there to support me and show their love. It meant a lot. Military men and women shared so many beautiful thoughts with me and told me how much they loved Josh. Also, many talked about my son's accomplishments. I felt so proud. Both Wounded Warriors and TAPS immediately contacted me and stepped in and walked with me, guiding me and consoling me through my devastating grief journey. I wanted to be left alone at home, but I am so grateful to everyone who did not listen to me and gently pulled me out of my cocoon. I am so grateful.
From Laura, wife of Kyle: I have very few trusting members in my circle. However, I have a good friend and her husband who got married (she for the first time at 48) shortly after my Kyle's death. She kept saying, “Maybe you should not come," but after following their relationship for four years and supporting this real love, I said of course I would come. Coincidentally, the wedding was held at my last duty station in Aberdeen, Maryland, where my husband was a RAC. Shortly after their return from their honeymoon, Sharon and Mark invited me to their church. They gently sat me in the middle of them like you would a child at church — a symbolic gesture that I had their love as well. They also planned a candle lighting service at their church and stood with me.
From Kelsey, mother of Michael: The day my son passed away, I called a friend. He came over and handled everything. I handed him my phone and he called everyone for me. He coordinated everything and anticipated my needs. It made that horrible day for me about the passing of my son and not the details that must be addressed when someone dies. I am forever grateful to him.
From Lonnie, wife of Larry: A few days after my husband died, a friend called and asked if she could come over and visit. I said sure. It was June and she arrived around dinner time with a basket of goodies and a bottle of wine. We sat out on my deck munching on the goodies and she allowed me to just talk. It’s something I’ve never forgotten. People are typically uncomfortable when you speak about your loss, which is easily understood. Until you experience it yourself, you really can’t understand how to gracefully handle and help someone else when they have a loss. Especially after it first happens and more so when it is a traumatic event as in suicide loss. My friend was not uncomfortable and more so, she was there to just listen and let me express my feelings.
I have learned from my own loss how to be there for others who experience it. I never really knew what to say or ask. From my own experience, I’ve learned what not to ask. People can seem very insensitive when asking you what happened — and more to the point, just plain rude at times. I remember being asked really personal questions just because someone wanted to satisfy their own curiosity! That really hurt. Those early days are the hardest. When someone gives them self to you by being there and listening as you cry and pour your feelings out, it is something you don’t forget.
From Sheryl, mother of Adam: I have experienced many comforting acts since Adam's death. One of Adam's cousins drove 600 miles and another 275 miles to attend the visitation. This was very unexpected and comforting, because there was a large age gap between the cousins and they only met a handful of times.
I am also very blessed that all of my friends are still very supportive of my mourning after two years. One new friend took me out on Adam's angelversary and gifted me a bag of treats. This brought me to tears.
From Leslie, mother of Eugene: I must say I am fortunate to have very good friends. One of them happens to be a psychiatric nurse. For the first couple of weeks after my son passed, my friend would arrive around 10:30 at night when she knew I would be at my worst and stay until midnight after she tucked me in. She came over on average of every other evening until she saw I could control the crying and screaming and get to sleep on my own.
From Robin, mother of Steven: Our Steven died on December 2, 2017. We have dear friends who brought dinner over and helped us make all the heart-wrenching calls to let friends know about the funeral arrangements for our Steven, which included poinsettias if they chose to send flowers. The same friend loaned us some of her Christmas decorations for the reception after the funeral Mass. It was beautiful and helped us continue the message from Mass that God had not forgotten us in the tragedy. In Him our family found hope for our future.
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 email@example.com and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.