Each of us walking a grief journey searches for meaning — a sense of purpose — after the loss of our loved one. This profound and empowering revelation comes to each of us at different times and different ways. For some of us, it comes through our connection to other survivors and seeking inspiration and hope from the growth they have experienced on their journey. For others, it may come from recognizing a need that needs to be fulfilled within the survivor community. And, for others, purpose may come from a promise made to your loved one, or wanting to carry out the work that they started. No matter what, each of us, in our own time, and in our own way, find a way to carry the torch of our loved one’s service forward — to be their living legacy and find purpose after loss.
We share one such story below, but we would love to hear how you have found purpose after loss. What inspired you; what continues to motivate you? Please share those stories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Do Good Things" - Tori's Story
How did you find purpose after your loss?
After losing my husband, SGT Jeremy "Jay" Seals, to cancer caused by toxic exposure, I needed a mission, a purpose, a cause — a way to convert the grief and anger into something productive that would fulfill my promise to Jay to “do good things.” I was raised in a military family with a long history of military service. Combined with my own personality, my desire to “do good things,” I felt that if I did not find myself on a mission, I might just lose myself. So, in honor of my husband, I am learning to focus on using the energy of my grief and anger to help the military community by “grassroots” letter writing, emailing, calling, and meeting with elected officials to champion many issues affecting active-duty personnel, veterans, their families, and their surviving spouses.
How have TAPS Women inspired you?
My first contact with TAPS was a call I received when I was at the funeral home just after losing Jay. It meant so much to me that TAPS, a truly caring voice on the other end of the line, would reach out to me in one of my darkest hours.
My first TAPS event was the National Military Survivor Seminar over Memorial Day weekend 2019. Much of it is a blur, being introduced to other survivors and participating in so many helpful sessions. But, I met women who were using their own grief and healing to help others by teaching coping skills, sharing their journeys, and generally creating a safe space, a space where we knew we were not alone. Since that time, participating in TAPS events, Online Community chats, TAPS Women’s Empowerment programming, and local gatherings, I feel like I am rekindling my purpose. I listen to the stories of the other women attending and, inspired by their strength, courage and resilience, I am reminded of my mission.
Anytime I have a question, whether about therapeutics, like meditation and breathing techniques for anxiety; or who to contact to get information on pending legislation; or who to contact about legislation, TAPS Women have answered, no matter how silly or off-the-wall, the question might be. Women like Bonnie Carroll, Candace Wheeler, Betty Medlock, Audri Beugelsdijk, Emily Muñoz, Erin Jacobson, and so many others in the TAPS family have empowered me and helped me along the path of my healing and advocacy.
My late husband, Jay, being the sci-fi nerd he was, used to quote Spider Robinson: “Shared pain is lessened. Shared joy is increased. Thus, we refute entropy.” I never really got it until I started attending TAPS events and gatherings. Now I get it, and I am eternally grateful for the women of TAPS who are empowering themselves and others like me to find their purpose.
"The Women's Empowerment [Program]...helped me know that I deserve to live a life that is full of joy and purpose. I am capable of living a healthy, happy, and meaningful life with the tools I now have for my journey!"
Find Connection and Purpose at TAPS
At TAPS, our Women's Empowerment Program has created a vibrant, compassionate community of surviving women — a place of support and inspiration where there are treasured opportunities to be each other’s teachers, confidantes, cheerleaders, and friends — a safe space where we equip surviving women with tools needed to move forward with resilience, joy, and gratitude. If you are a surviving woman seeking inspiration, connection, and community of supportive peers, we invite you to connect with us at TAPS Women's Empowerment.
If Tori’s story has inspired you to give back to your survivor community and carry on your loved one’s legacy of service (and you are at least 18 months out from your loss), consider becoming a TAPS Peer Mentor. As a Peer Mentor, you will be a source of hope and support — a guiding light — for another survivor. Learn more at TAPS Peer Mentors.
Tori Seals is the surviving spouse of Sergeant Jeremy Heath Seals, Army National Guard.