Saturday Morning Message: What We Do with Our Loved One's Possessions?

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

The question about what we do with our loved one’s things is one I put in the Saturday Morning Message a few times a year since it frequently is a question asked by new survivors. In addition to the replies submitted by survivors, I’d like to share two articles from a TAPS Magazine that addresses this query. They were both written by Betsy Beard, surviving mom of Army Specialist Bradley Beard. The articles,  “Boxes in the Attic” and “Boxes in the Attic: Part Two.” may offer ideas about keeping, giving and storing your loved one’s possessions.

trunk of military army gear

In our family, we bought an armoire with two glass doors and put it in our son’s bedroom. Behind the glass doors, we hung our son’s dress uniform and placed some of the special articles that were given to us by the military at or around the time of his funeral. In the drawers, we put scrapbooks and some of his favorite clothes.

I hope you get some ideas from this message about what others have done. Whatever you decide to do is right for you and your family.

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 have you done with your loved one's possessions?

From Ruth, mother of Jim: Jimmy had been gone from our home for many years when he passed into his new life. Jim had grown into a generous man who loved to help others. We received several boxes after Jim's death. Three T-shirts were in the top of one of the boxes. I picked them up and smelled them and yes—Jim was there. At first, I wanted to keep the shirts, but then as though a small voice was whispering in my ear, I knew that others would need these as the winter weather set in. I took the shirts to the mission and waited until I saw a man who I knew would use them. I told him about my son and how much it would mean to him for this man to have them.  Both of us had tears in our eyes. I started to leave when the man I had never met, stood tall and saluted—not me I am sure, but my son who was in the shadows behind me. 

From Annette, mother of Joseph: It will be eight years since we lost Joe this coming January 7. Until this past weekend, all in his room has remained the same except for a few items I have given to family members. The past couple of months, it has become clearer and clearer to me that I have to do something with the clothing, but that it has to go to a place where I know it will be given to someone in need — for free. Our local VA hospital in Northport, New York had a homeless shelter, but it closed among much controversy. Joe loved the Northport VA and they were very good to him. I called to see if the shelter was reopened and was told no, but that there was a "store" on premises that accepts used clothing. I called and spoke to Tommy (an Angel) who runs it, and he said he ran it for many years and any veteran can come in and shop for free. My prayers were answered. On Sunday, I cleaned out a tremendous amount of clothes, and will wash some jackets tonight and bring them all tomorrow or Thursday. I have much more to go through, but I actually feel so good about this. I know Joe would want someone to use his clothing rather than have them sit in the closet.

Adra, mother of Kyle: Caring for Kyle's things over the past two years has been an emotional challenge that I would never have guessed would be so difficult. We started with cleaning out his apartment, bringing home the most personal things, like his journals and some of his clothes, and putting everything else in storage, furniture and all, until we could be in an emotional space that allowed us to cope.

I still keep some of Kyle's things here at home and some in storage. The things most precious to me are the things that, years later, still have my son's scent on them, like the cap he wore in Afghanistan and some T-shirts. I carried that green cap in my purse for six months. Now, that cap is in a heart-shaped metal box on my dresser. I keep some of the other items in plastic storage bags. His medals and campaign ribbons are displayed with his photograph and the precious flag that draped his coffin. I've wondered what I will do with his flag someday, considering he left three children. How do you decide something like that?

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

Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew wrote, “As the years go on without our loved ones, we all establish our own ways of remembering those birthdays, death days, holidays, etc. Some of us quietly remember our loved one’s special days alone and some of us involve others. Let us share our thoughts with each other and appreciate this opportunity to be part of a group that can understand our uniqueness and compassion in a way unknown to so many.” This week’s question is: How do you mark holidays or your loved one’s special days? We look forward to your ideas. 

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

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. This week he sent a song that touched his heart. The song is: 1.800.273.8255 by Logic. It is about the emotional conflict that exists in some minds. The phone number is for a 24-hour, 7-days counseling center. 

You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at online@taps.org along with a sentence or two about what makes this song meaningful.

 

UPCOMING VIDEO AND TEXT CHATS

Visit the TAPS chat calendar for this week's chat schedule. » 

 

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.