Saturday Morning Message: Making a Difference With TAPS Events
Author: Carol Lane
Since our question this week is about TAPS events, and those who responded covered many of them, I thought showing a picture of American TAPS survivors meeting in 2016 in the United Kingdom might be helpful to show that TAPS also travels to other countries.
If you want to attend an event from your own living room, I suggest the chats might be a good place to start. To access the chats:
First, you'll need to register for the TAPS Online Community. Once done, you can attend video or text chats by clicking on the boxes labeled TAPS Video Chat or TAPS Text Chat. They are above the blog section where you can write about your journey or read what others write. There are a variety of chats that are scheduled throughout each month. In addition to the chats and blog section, the Online Community page offers peer groups to connect with other survivors who have had a similar experience. If you have any questions, please contact me.
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
The question this week comes from Dianna, wife of Thomas. She writes that every year friends and family have a memorial event around the date of her husband’s accident. She would like to do something different this year and wants to know: What do you do as a yearly memorial for your loved one? She notes that she would like everyone to participate, including those with mobility issues, so that would exclude a walk or run. We look forward to your answers.
Questions are the backbone of the Saturday Morning Message. In order to keep the Saturday Morning Message fresh, I am looking for more questions. If you have questions or topics you would like to see addressed in the Saturday Morning Message, you can email me at email@example.com. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. In addition to replies that are placed in the message, I also look for thoughts you have. You can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. Replies to the weekly question are best sent to me by Tuesday morning. You are an important part of this message, and I look forward to your questions or any ideas you may have.
♫ Song for the Week
This week’s song was sent by Lisa, mother of Dillon, titled “All I Need Is You.” The link sends you to the webpage for her son. Lisa wrote, “I wanted to share this song that we had recorded in Nashville in honor of our son, Dillon. The song is written and sung by Kalsey Kulyk. It was an amazing experience and music is just so healing. Eventually, we'll be able to get through it without tears! Dillon's legacy and name will live on forever. If you go to the website click on the song in the black box on the left side.”
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 is the best thing about a TAPS seminar, retreat or other event?
From Debby, wife of Thomas: The very first TAPS event I attended was the National Seminar in Washington, DC last May. I really didn’t know what to expect, since I was attending it alone. I had planned on originally attending a regional event here in Florida that previous fall, but Hurricane Irma decided to thwart that plan. So much for those baby steps and easing into large TAPS gatherings.
When I took that “giant leap“ and decided to attend the Nationals, from the moment I stepped off the plane there were TAPS people there to welcome me and guided me to the hotel shuttle.
Once I reached the hotel, I met so many other warm and caring “TAPS Family” members. I felt like a ton of weight had been lifted off of my shoulders just by meeting other family/people who understood what I was going through and “got it.”
Seeing the smiles on the faces of the young Good Grief campers every day coming back from their events lifted my spirits and made me smile. I even made a 6-year-old friend, who would run over and give me a hug whenever he saw me in the hallway.
I was very fortunate to have been able to meet my friends in person, whom I had gotten to know from the weekly online chats every Tuesday and also other Peer Mentors I had only met via the video chats.
The biggest thing that I took away from the seminar was the knowledge that no matter how hard things can get from time to time, there is always someone there 24/7 for us on the TAPS Helpline to help pick us back up.
From Belinda, mother of Benjamin: The best thing about TAPS retreats and other events is knowing and feeling you’re not alone. We all know other people have suffered loss, but when it happens to you, you feel as if you’re the only one going through this hell. The relationships we form are in most cases lifelong. You have someone you can call on. One of my best experiences is my mentor, Karen.
Also, for me there are people to help me tell my story. You who give us a forum. Needless to say, I love my TAPS family.
From Christine, wife of Dennis: I have only been to one TAPS event, but I think the people you meet from all walks of life is something pretty important. All these strangers meet and they have one thing in common: the life of a loved one who served in the military.
From Bob and Kitty, parents of John:
Kitty: Time spent with fellow survivors and staff.
Bob: Listening to survivors and staff.
From Melanie, wife of Timothy: I went to the National Suicide Survivor Seminar in October for the first time. It was five months after my husband, Tim, died and it was probably one of the hardest and most emotional experiences I chose to do. However, it felt good to be around people who were understanding and compassionate and who had an idea of how I felt and what I was going through. I am very thankful for TAPS as its resources have been some of the most helpful things I have found since Tim died.
From Laura, mother of Aaron: Attending a TAPS Mothers Retreat in 2016 was one of the best things I ever did. And I'm pretty sure that sentiment goes for the other women in attendance there as well. It was a small group (26 including TAPS staff), so we became quite close over the course of four days.
The activities were fun, inspirational and healing. We also had plenty of down time to visit one-on-one and got to know each other even better. It seemed that some of these moms did not have a good support system at home and this retreat provided them with a chance to talk and be truly heard! And of course the best thing was getting a chance for each of us to tell about our dear sons.
From Sandra, mother of Joshua: The best thing about getting involved in TAPS is the camaraderie. My TAPS buddies are an extended family. We get together and talk, laugh, cry and heal. We help and support each other. I remember standing in line to check in at the Austin Seminar in 2017. It was my first seminar. I was so nervous. But everyone was smiling and greeting me with open arms while asking me the name of my son, handing me a lanyard, TAPS souvenirs, a T-shirt and a TAPS bag. I sat down at a large table and within seconds I had met everyone. The weekend was filled with activities, workshops, food and fun. Yes, there were were very sad moments, full of grief and pain, but my new-found friends were there to pick me up, comfort me and lift me up. I went on the TAPS Atlanta Parents' Retreat in 2017 and experienced the same. I also went snorkeling and swam with the gentle giants at the aquarium in Atlanta. That was insane and fun! I have participated in the weekly online text chats and audio chats. I feel like I personally know these people. They are my people. We have developed wonderful friendships. I have met some of them at seminars. I just attended a Starbucks get together here in Houston this weekend, and for the first time, my husband and two grandkids came with me. I met some wonderful families and we bonded within minutes. We are TAPS and we are family and we are forever connected to each other.
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.