There Are No Strangers at TAPS
Author: Ellen Andrews
Finding Community Amid Your Grief
One of the most courageous steps you can take on your journey is reaching out to find support and immersing yourself in the company of those who have the shared experience of grief and loss. Reaching out acknowledges the reality – a reality you wish was untrue. You wonder if your heart and mind can shoulder being surrounded by others dealing with loss.
Your heart is hurting. You've experienced a pain that is almost indescribable. This pain is often accompanied by feelings of loneliness and isolation. You wonder how and why your feet have been set upon this path. You feel overwhelmed and move with caution – taking one step, then another. All of these feelings are normal; and feelings that have been experienced by others.
If you are at this crossroads, deciding whether or not to risk your heart in connecting with others, I offer this quote attributed to William Butler Yeats: There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't yet met.
The community of survivors that greets you will provide warmth and care. Regardless of the time that has passed since your loss, or the path you have taken thus far, you will be surrounded by gentle support, and you will find that there are no strangers – only people who share a deep empathy for what you have experienced. They are ready to walk with you as you gain your equilibrium, as you find your voice to express your emotions and share your stories. And, they will be with you as long as you need in order to find strength and hope for the journey ahead. People who become guides and companions, and who may become friends, you will cherish for the rest of your life.
Grief can be overwhelming and leave you feeling alone, isolated, and bewildered as to what to do and where to go next. It is through the strength, resilience, and care of those who have traveled the journey before you that you can gain a steadfast community where your heart will be renewed and will be opened to the realization that you don't have to bear the burden alone.
TAPS will always be here for you.
The TAPS Online Community provides grief support and an opportunity to connect with others wherever you may be.
The TAPS National Military Survivor Helpline consists of a network of trained professionals who are on call for you 24/7.
Ellen Andrews is the surviving fiancé of U.S. Navy Lieutenant David J. Huber.
Photos: TAPS Archives