Saturday Morning Message: Coping With Sudden Grief Emotions
Author: Carol Lane
Being there to listen without judgement is one wonderful gift TAPS gives to those who connect with our organization. The opening photo shows a TAPS Military Mentor listening carefully to a young survivor. Through our mentors, caring staff and our Helpline Team, TAPS is here 24/7 to listen and to provide support to all survivors.
The Saturday Morning Message is one of many ways we stay connected, sharing our journey together. Today, survivors have shared what they do to cope when feelings of grief overcome them, even after a long time has passed since the death of their loved one. We hope you will find their responses helpful.
Mother of Bryon
Responses from Survivors to last week's question
How do you cope with the loss of a loved one even though it has been a long time?
From Patricia, mother of Christopher:When something triggers me after five years, I immediately remind myself of where my son is now and how he has “visited” me and loves me. I then throw myself into a project. One morning when I was struggling deeply, I suddenly remembered how I wanted to bake a loaf of my own homemade bread. I hadn’t baked bread since Chris died. So I started kneading and began to feel grounded and happy. This bread is now called “Christopher’s bread” and I have been baking ever since.
From Samira, mother of Andres:When I feel the pain of my son, Andres’s loss, if I am home, I get one of my son’s belongings and hug it and cry until I feel better. When I break down when I am driving, I pull over the car and cry. I sometimes cry at theme parks or church.
From Mary, daughter of William: Grief hit me hard out of nowhere 30+ years after my fireman father’s death. Within weeks in 2019, both an EMS driver and former fire chief that I knew died and I mourned again the loss of my Dad dying suddenly of a heart attack on the job in 1983. The night of the former fire chief's death, the current fire chief cried as he presented the former chief's wife with a flag in the mortuary.
After that, I visited every firehouse here. Where I live there are four different fire departments. I presented them with a collage I made of both the memories of the EMS driver and the former fire chief; and, I got to laugh and talk with the current EMS and firemen who knew both of them like I did. Some had even known and worked with my dad so very long ago. I went with my grief to honor my dad and realized he had honored me back and was telling me I will be okay, even 30 years later.
From Leslie, mother of Eugene:My son passed away just over 10 years ago. There are some things that trigger such immediate and deep agony over his death. Then there are triggers that have me laughing hysterically.
The last thing my son planned was a Super Bowl party at his house in 2011. His girlfriend, who was living with him at the time, went on with the party after he passed. I went to a piano competition in March of 2011, because my last days with him were spent with him listening to my practices. Truthfully, I can’t play those pieces anymore...it’s too painful.
I think the best thing to consider is a balance of the elation and agony. When I feel those agonizing moments, I try to remind myself of some of the fun we had. I was told to remember how he lived rather than his death. Sometimes it works...
From Elizabeth, spouse of Joseph: When Joe died, our grandchildren were only three and one. They're seven and five now. When I watched them play in the snow recently, I started crying. Joe should have been able to see that. After a few minutes of tears, I remembered all the time Joe had cried in pain from the peripheral neuropathy caused by Agent Orange. That helped ease my pain. However, I still cry sometimes for my father who died in 1959 and my mother who died in 1976. The crying is usually caused by thinking of things, like how my father never even met Joe. I guess the best thing to do is just feel the sorrow, so it doesn't totally overwhelm you.
We Welcome Your Comments
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
With bad weather and the pandemic, many of us have had to stay indoors or close to home a lot this winter. This may have left you dreaming of vacations. So this week's question is: Where was your favorite place that you ever vacationed with your loved one?
We look forward to reading stories of the places you traveled with your loved ones. Photos are always welcome.
We Welcome Your Questions
The Saturday Morning Message was created so survivors can share questions and read how others respond. Questions for future messages are always welcome and can be sent to email@example.com. In order to have your reply included the following week, it is best to send your response by Tuesday morning.
Song for the Week
The songs this week came from Dianne, spouse of David, who wrote:
“Dave died in a plane crash. I played ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ by Bette Midler and ‘I'll Fly Away' by the Bill Gaither Band at his funeral. My tribute to him was through these songs. He was in love with flying; and, although it was hard for me to listen to these songs after the funeral for a few years, I now really love hearing the songs and remembering where we were and where we are now... He has flown away, and I will join him when it's my turn and God calls me home.”
Send Your Favorite Song or Recipe
This section of the message is set aside for songs and recipes that are special to survivors. If you have a favorite recipe or song for this section, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and include a note about why it is meaningful to you.
We can't control everything that happens in our lives. Sometimes we can't even control our emotions. But we can control how we respond to them.
This video recording discussion on the six myths about grief, why they are still prevalent, and how we can successfully address them.