Saturday Morning Message: Upcoming Holiday Ideas

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

One of the most powerful things that TAPS does is provide an avenue where survivors can connect and talk about their grief. The opening picture today shows two people chatting at a TAPS seminar. At the end of the Saturday Morning Message is a list of video and text chats that offer yet another way of connecting survivors. When you join a chat, you can communicate with others from the comfort of your home. This Saturday Morning Message uses writing to connect survivors either by answering a question or posing one. Those who responded this week are sharing their thoughts on how to handle the upcoming holiday season, especially for those who are facing them for the first time without their loved one.

Survivor chatting with TAPS Staff member

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 words of encouragement would you offer to someone approaching their first holiday season without their loved one?

From Donna, mother of Eric: We went out of town. Not on vacation, just to a hotel two hours away where no one knew us. It was good for us. We didn't have to go to family gatherings and watch everyone else with their kids and grandkids while we have no one now. We didn't get any looks of pity, because no one knew us or our tragedy. I didn't decorate, which meant, more importantly, that I didn't have to take down and clean up after. Being away from home the first two years was better for me. We have "adopted" some grandkids, children of our son's friends. So doing holiday activities with them has soothed me in the last few years, but not something I could have even considered the first few years as I felt guilty for doing anything without our child. It's taken 7.5 years to get to a place in my head that I know my son would want for me — to be happy and live this life to the fullest. Knowing and acting upon that all of the time doesn't happen. But that has helped me come a long way in processing my grief.

From Charlene, mother of Devin: My advice would be to pace yourself and only do what you feel up to doing. All the prepping that comes with the holidays is exhausting enough. Then adding grief to it is very draining. I tried to stick to my usual holiday frenzy and just didn’t have the same focus or energy.

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: The year of firsts .... each one shocks you back to the day of notification unless you were there when your loved one passed. The firsts are rough, but your feelings are normal. Do not beat yourself up. What you may want to consider is asking friends and family to send cards on days you know may be especially difficult, such as a birthday or holiday. Ask them to write of memory of your loved one. Their memories may be comforting.

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

Many survivors find volunteer work that they do in honor of their loved ones helpful. Let’s share some of those opportunities in the next Saturday Morning Message. The question is: What volunteer work have you done that has helped on your grief journey and why was it helpful to you? We look forward to the responses. 

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 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

This week’s song is one I picked because it reminds me of what TAPS has done for so many of us including me. It is "Bridge Over Troubled Water," sung by Simon and Garfunkel. It also seemed to fit with today’s topic.

A survivor once suggested we include a song of the week, which has now become a weekly feature. If you have a song that is special to you or reminds you of your loved one, please send it to me at along with a sentence or two about what makes this song meaningful to you. One of our contributors, 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.

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


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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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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. 

Celebrating 20 Years of Team TAPS 

For 20 years, Team TAPS has honored our heroes and raised awareness and funds to support the TAPS mission. This year, in celebration of our 20th anniversary, we are coming together to create a virtual movement. We will walk, run, bike, swim, and row - find ways to move in honor of our loved ones. We will gain strength, go the distance, and encourage each other. Join us for this adventure

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

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We're all in this together

Have you lost your job or have reduced household income? How has the pandemic made an impact on your life? If you are grieving the death of a loved one, and their life included military service, we'd like to hear from you.

Your feedback will be used to improve TAPS programs and to communicate survivor needs to donors and stakeholders. Please share how COVID-19 has impacted you by taking our survey.


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

Those who take either 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, 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

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.