Saturday Morning Message: How Has TAPS Helped You?

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

Since today is Halloween, I thought it would be fun to share a picture from an article written by Marissa Donovan titled "Easy Fall Foods to Keep Your Spirits Up." In the article, there is a recipe for these Jack-O-Lantern stuffed peppers. The picture seemed perfect for today and hopefully put a smile on your face when you opened this week’s Saturday Morning Message.

jack o lantern peppers Jack-O-Lantern stuffed peppers, recipe and photo from Giant Foods

When grief enters your life after the death of a loved one, your emotions seem overwhelming, but TAPS has many programs and supportive resources to help survivors. This week, survivors shared the TAPS program or resource that has been helpful to them along their grief journey.

You may read something that interests you. If you want to know more about a program or if we, at TAPS, can ever be of support, please call the TAPS helpline at 202.588.8277 (TAPS), learn more at or you can write to

We are always here to support you.

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Responses from Survivors to last week's question

What is one way TAPS has helped you on your grief journey?

From Belinda, mother of Benjamin: The best thing TAPS has done for me is introducing me to the people I’ve met and come to care for. The very best is my mentor, Karen. It will be 5 years since Benjamin died on 12/26/2015. She and I still stay in touch.

From Beth, former spouse of Thomas: I lost my former spouse, Thomas, on 6/29/2018. It was really hard for me, because our divorce was just finalized and we were still best friends. I was also moving to make a fresh start. While my new move should have been happy and exciting, I had to deal with funeral plans, probate and so much more than I expected. I called numbers for support, because I felt so alone. I tried grief share groups, Friends for Survival and others, but TAPS was the one I felt most connected to. TAPS started off with a care package and someone to talk to. I learned that the more I explored TAPS, there were more opportunities. The best part was attending a regional and a national seminar and realizing that I was not alone. There were others like me, ex-spouses of military members. I recently became a peer mentor. Now I have a goal of either joining Team TAPS or doing a women's empowerment program. TAPS helped me to realize that there would be more milestones as I grew and healed more.

From Charlene, mother of Devin: TAPS has been a godsend to me. I have found so many options for healing and learning from joining our TAPS family. There’s something for everyone; and they continue to add to their already amazing resources. To mention one of their vast opportunities, the Saturday Morning Message email has touched my heart when reading other survivors’ thoughts and the music suggestions have led me to create a playlist for my son, Devin. I use not only the songs listed on that weekend email, but they have also led me into a deeper exploration of music that resonates with Devin and me.

The Care Groups welcome you with open arms and allow you to be in a safe place, because we’re all there for the same reason. We’re all suffering and need to find comfort, compassion and be around people who understand our pain. Lastly and most important is that we are all unified with an extended family that’s there for us 24/7.

From Sandra, mother of Joshua: TAPS gets me through each week. In the first two years after the death of my son, I called TAPS several times for help. I have participated in a multitude of different activities such as, a parents’ retreat, seminars, text chats, and video chats. I also enjoy the women’s empowerment chats, the writer’s chats, and chair yoga classes. I have a mentor and I have also become a mentor. There are also care groups. 

My son was a big part of my life and his death left a void that nothing can fill. I lost a large part of myself after my son passed away. TAPS not only supports me on a daily basis, but has helped shape the person I am today. A TAPS dad once said, “I have an obligation to myself and to my family to live my life.” His words inspire me to continue to reach out to TAPS for help, healing, and growth.

If you would like to send a note 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 each contributor. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another.


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

Elizabeth, spouse of Joseph, sent the question this week. Even in this time of COVID-19, volunteering can be helpful. Elizabeth wondered what others were doing to help veterans in their communities, but I am going to open the question to all areas of volunteerism, so next week’s question is: What do you do to volunteer to help others in your community? We look forward to reading 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 to those who read this message.


Recipe for the Week


silverware icon

From Lydia, mother of Carl: My son wanted to learn to bake and cook when he was in middle school. One of the recipes I taught him to make was “Grandma's Brownies.” I encouraged him to make changes and he added a sticky note with some of the things he had tried. Carl's notes say that you can replace the walnuts with mini chocolate chips or that you can add 2 tablespoons of instant coffee.

I have been able to substitute gluten free flour with no noticeable change in outcome. Use a one-to-one gluten free flour like Bob's Red Mill.

Carl's sticky note

Grandma's Brownies

Brownie Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups softened butter
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts

Icing Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Combine flour, cocoa powder and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in vanilla and walnuts.
  • Spread into a greased 15 x 10 x 1 baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.
  • Make icing. Melt the butter and the chocolate together. Add half of the confectioners’ sugar and mix well. Add milk, vanilla and remaining sugar and beat until smooth. Spread immediately over warm brownies.

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

If you have a favorite recipe or song for this section, please send your ideas to me at and include a note about why there is meaning for you.


Related Stories

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Article: Staying in Touch-Real Touch

Understand our need for physical touch and discover tips for feeding your touch starvation during this time of social distancing.

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VIDEO: Finding Balance in the Midst of Grief

This video recording of the webinar discusses the process of mourning your loved one while forging a new life without them.


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).