Saturday Morning Message: When Sleep Is Hard to Find

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

In this week’s Saturday Morning Message, survivors share strategies which help them when they are unable to sleep. When trauma comes into our lives, it throws our normal patterns into a tailspin. We have all been working with not only our individual grief, but also the National upset when COVID-19 came into our lives.

Holiday candle

Recently, I was having trouble sleeping, so I turned to my TAPS family and found TAPS Talks Video: Catching Some ZZZ’s-Finding Rest When Stressed on the website. Heather Stang (MA, C-IATY), the presenter, shared many strategies for sleep. One of them was to light a candle at dusk, preferably with a scent you like, and leave it burning until you go to bed. The scent of the candle helps you relax, especially if reading a book, doing some relaxing yoga exercises or watching something on TV that doesn’t require a lot of mental energy.

Just remember to blow the candle out before you retire.

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Responses from Survivors to last week's question

What do you do when you find you are having difficulty sleeping?

From Elizabeth, spouse of Joseph: Most of the time I have little to no trouble sleeping. However, when I can't get back to sleep in the middle of the night, I often switch from the bed to the living room couch and turn on the TV. Joe was always a night owl, so I'm very used to sleeping with a little noise in the background. Being under a favorite quilt and hugging the little stuffed bunny I've slept with since he died helps, too.

From Kelsey, mother of Michael: When I'm restless at night, I get up and read or watch “Star Trek DS9”. If it's after 2 am., I make coffee and stay up.

From Sandra, mother of Joshua: I have several tools that I have taken away from Dr. Frank Campbell's “New to Grief” workshop. I attended the workshop during the TAPS Regional Survivor Military Seminar in Austin just a few months after the death of my son. I was having great difficulty sleeping and these tools have helped me tremendously. I turn on my little fan that hums softly, turn on my nature clock to rain or white noise, turn the temp down, and block out all light from the bedroom, so it is very dark. If that does not work, I get back up and go sit in the front room. Sometimes, I drink herbal tea or read a book or magazine. Every once in a while, I journal my thoughts that are racing around in my head. These are just a few tips and they have served me well. Sleep is crucial when grieving and it is part of self care. 

If you would like to send a message commenting on one or all of the responses 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.


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

Let’s learn a little more about our loved ones. This week’s question came from Perry, father of Christopher. He asks, “What is something your loved one did that made you proud?”. We look forward to reading about your loved one. If you have a picture that you would like to share, please send that as well to 

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 to those who read this message.


Song for the Week

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This week’s song, “I’ll Carry You Home”, sung by Trisha Yearwood, was sent by Leslie, mother of Eugene. She writes, “I thought this song was a good choice for our group. Between missing our loved ones and the COVID-19 pandemic, I think this says it all.” This song musically reminds all of us that we are never alone. 

TAPS Spotify Playlist: A survivor once suggested we include a song of the week, which has now become a weekly feature. One of our contributors, Andy, father of Danny, makes a free playlist 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.     

Next Week: We will feature a special recipe from a survivor and share why that recipe has a special meaning. 

If you have a favorite recipe or song for this section, please send those to me at and include a note about why the recipe or song is meaningful to you.


Related Stories

mountains and sunset

Video: Grief Dreams

This webinar discusses the common questions people have related to dreams after loss and how they apply to one's grief.

asleep in bed

Article: Grief and Sleep

Your sleep is important to your healing, not only physically but emotionally too. Learn 7 tips to cope with insomnia after loss.


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).