Saturday Morning Message: The things they leave behind

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

This week, survivors shared items they keep that are special remembrances of their loved ones. The picture today is of the laundry jug given to Marcia, by her son, Patrick, the last time he was home. She is the author of the original question. Read what others have saved to remind them of their loved ones.

Tide Laundry Detergent bottle

Surviving friends and family are invited to participate in the study by June 30 so that researchers can better understand the needs of survivors. The study is open to close friends and family members of those who died before or after September 11, 2001 while serving in the military or as a result of their military service. This would include:

  • Any immediate family member—such as a parent, spouse, sibling or adult child
  • Any non-immediate family member—such as a cousin, grandparent, uncle, or aunt
  • Any close friend or battle buddy of an active duty service member who died while serving

The study team is particularly hoping to reach and enroll bereaved family members who continue to struggle with their grief. It is our hope that the results of the study will lead to better resources for the bereaved in years to come.

After filling out the brief survey, participants will be contacted by study personnel to complete a telephonic screening and enrollment. Once enrolled, study participants will have access to the assigned program for 6 months, and will be asked to provide feedback about their experience. For more information, please contact

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

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Answers from Survivors

Responses from Survivors to last week's question: What do you keep around that reminds you of your loved one? Tell us a bit about why you keep it.

From Tabitha, spouse of Michael: My husband was a musician and in his teens he saved up and bought a Les Paul guitar. It was his most prized possession. Anytime we moved, it was with him the whole way. I like to think a little bit of him still resides in that guitar. I keep it with me as my prized possession. I plan on getting the strings redone. The ones that are currently on the guitar are the last strings he touched. When they are replaced, I will get the strings made into a bracelet for our children and for me.

From Charlene, mother of Devin: I keep my son’s art, not only because of his multidimensional talent, but also it shows his love, his humor and his trauma as he experienced it. Looking at it is like looking through his eyes and seeing his expressions as he’s creating it. Like many young men, he needed an outlet to tell his story and that is clearly depicted in his work. It shows his ability to open himself up to love and humor, but also to express his darkest moments behind closed doors. Every time I look at his art, I feel his innermost feelings—good and bad.

From Beth, ex-wife of Thomas: My former spouse passed away on 6/29/2019. I still cannot part with his cell phone. I like to look at it and see the last messages he sent. I also keep a food scale and serving bowl. The day before he died, he had spoken about how he was going to use it to lose weight and start a diet and exercise program. I keep it thinking it might motivate me to get healthier.

From Perry, father of Christopher: Of all the few things I have that belonged to my son, Christopher, my most treasured is his fishing tackle box. It is a small light blue fishing tackle box that I now use whenever I go fishing. It is not in the best of shape, but it works. Often when I go fishing it is just me alone now. When I find a place to fish, I break out the tackle box, setting it up next to me. I often look over at the tackle box knowing it was my son’s, and think of the times we would go fishing together. It is in writing this I realized having the tackle box next to me is like when Christopher and I would go fishing together. He would always be next to me as we tried to catch something. Even now he is right beside me when I go fishing.

From Samira, mother of Andres: This week’s question feels like it was directed to me. I have all of my son, Andres’, belongings—the ones when he was at home and ones the Air Force returned to me. Depending on my feelings, I go and get a piece of Andres’ belongings. Also like Marcia, I have a plastic jug of detergent returned to me. It is not empty, but I do not use it. I will keep everything until we are together forever.

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 and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message

An email from a survivor was sent to Ellen, fiancée of David, that we thought would be a good question for the Saturday Morning Message. The survivor wrote that she had planned to go to a funeral for her friend’s grandmother/mother, but when the day came, she found that she was unable to go as she didn’t know how she would react. The question this week is: Have you had difficulty going to a funeral or memorial service since the death of your loved one? We look forward to your responses. 

Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. In order to have your reply included in the next week’s message, it is best to send your answers 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

This week’s songs are from Tina, mother of Jonathan. She wrote, Jonathan “was born in December, so I always sang 'Silent Night' to sing him to sleep and 'Letters from Home' while he was deployed.”

You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at

Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

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

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).