Saturday Morning Message: How Do You Mark Special Days?

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

This week we share some of the things we do to mark special days. Sometimes there are days that are just hard, but not just special occasions like an anniversary, birthday, holiday or angelversary. That is when we need to remember those special moments with our loved ones. The opening picture shows Lily, and her father, John, at Dunkin’ Donuts where they had many enjoyable times. You will read more about this close relationship below.

Lily, and her father, John, at Dunkin’ Donuts

We hope you will enjoy the responses and pictures that were sent this week.

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Responses from Survivors to last week's question

What do you do for anniversaries, birthdays or angelversaries? 

Lily saluting with her dad's uniform patch

From Ginny, spouse of John: Being the mother of an 8-year-old who lost her father at 5 isn’t an easy task. I can see my Lily’s constant struggle to keep memories alive and not forget her dad. She includes John in almost everything we do. Sometimes, she gets slightly creative in her memories of dad, but I think he would enjoy her made up adventures. Little questions such as, “Did we do this with Dad?” or “Is this something Dad would like?” enhance her decision making. As John’s widow, I’ve had to consciously move aside the pain and keep him alive for our daughter. Little did I know this would be my therapy when I’m at my lowest.

On hard days, we might venture out to Dunkin’ Donuts and get dad’s favorite donut, the vanilla creme. While this would have never been our choice before, it has become a staple of our visits and brings a sense of John’s presence as we sit and remember dad covered in powdered sugar as he enjoyed his donut. We might seek out a Korean restaurant and order dad’s favorite dish and remember the phrases John taught Lily to say in Korean. We even ventured down to Florida to visit dad’s retired C-130. One of the most therapeutic things we did together was run in the Marine Corps Marathon kids race and 10k in John's memory with TAPS. My new phrase when either one of us is feeling low: “Do you want to go to one of dad’s favorite places?” and she’s all in. Keeping the memories alive and incorporating John’s favorite things has been our creative way to heal.

Lydia's broken heart tattoo

From Lydia Joy, mother of Carl: I got inked on the inside of my left wrist. It was a couple of months after Carl's father and I separated. I selected this design to remind myself that even though my heart was broken, life still goes on. I wanted to move forward in a positive direction. I showed my ink to lots of people including my son and explained the meaning: my heart is broken, but life goes on.

I plan to go back to the tattoo artist and have some more ink added to this heart. I want him to add an infinity symbol around the heart and to put my son's signature in the other lobe. I will need to visit with the artist ahead of time to have the design drawn, but I plan to have the ink added on my son's angel date, September 25.

Kenneth's decorated gravestone

From Tara, daughter of Kenneth: This is my favorite thing to do to make my Dad’s grave look special for the given holiday.  Whether it’s an anniversary, birthday, holiday, etc. That’s my time to get creative with decorations, things I know would remind me of him during that special holiday. I think this is not only nice for remembering my Dad on these days, but it also serves as a healing time for me as well. I have always loved being creative and putting a lot of thought into holidays. This way I still can. 

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

The next message will be on July 4, which celebrates our country’s independence. Normally many of us would be traveling, but that might not be possible this year, so let’s introduce our hometowns to the group. In that way we can enjoy the magnificent place our country has become. This week’s question is: What is one place in your hometown that would be good for a group of our TAPS families to visit? It can be a place or an activity like hiking or boating. Pictures are welcome. We look forward to your responses. 

The Saturday Morning Message was created so survivors can share questions and read how others respond. Questions for future messages are always welcome. You can reply to this message or email In order to have your reply included the following week, it is best to send your response by Tuesday morning. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.

♫ Song for the Week

My cousin, Sharon, sent the song for this week which is:  "My Immortal," by Evanescence. I thought it described how many survivors, including me, feel at times. 

You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at and include a note about why the song is meaningful to you.

Share Your Thoughts

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 and your thoughts will be passed along to them. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another.

Related Stories

Geese in flight

Marking Special Days

TAPS can help us on our grief journey by supporting each other. Like the geese we should not try to maneuver this path alone, we move better when we’re together.

Survivors comfort one another

Anniversary Blues

The date is engraved on my heart. It seems so wrong; anniversaries should be for celebrating a joyous occasion, not for acknowledging a death.


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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.