Letter from TAPS

Author: Emily Munoz

Dear TAPS Family,

The full weight of the impending holidays may be heavy on your mind and heart when you receive this magazine. Thanksgiving has come and gone, signaling the beginning of a season that is bittersweet at best. We are unable to escape the knowledge that many of the people for whom we are most grateful will not be present with us the way we want them to be. Yet we brace ourselves with gratitude and learn to be thankful for the gaps and spaces because of who once filled them.

Survivor at Colorado Seminar

In addition to gratitude, as we move into a hard season, we focus on the courage to accept help in an unknown land. The Pilgrims accepted assistance from Native Americans because they realized they could not survive alone. The Native Americans, who offered their advice and expertise, did so because they learned to live through hard winters and to celebrate times of plenty. They knew to be grateful when their needs were filled, yet also to support and prepare together for coming emptiness.

It's easy to imagine the relief and hope that accompanied the first Thanksgiving, but it's also not difficult to imagine a tremendous amount of fear. Winter had only just begun, and the Pilgrims still faced an expansive unknown. They hoped they would have enough to sustain them, but they knew the challenges weren't over. Similarly, while our hearts swell with the knowledge that our griefs are rooted in our great loves, we may still wonder what the landscape holds. Will it ever get easier? Will we always have to fight so hard to make it in this world?

While you read news of what's coming up in the TAPS community and catch up on what's been happening, we want you to remember this: you will never have to survive alone. Together, we'll celebrate the heroes who have touched, and continue to warm, our hearts. Together, we'll commit again to living through emotional winter.

In this edition of the TAPS Magazine, we introduce several new initiatives and remind you of opportunities to be a part of your TAPS family in 2016 and beyond. We want you to find something to hold onto, something to look forward to, during times that might otherwise feel hopeless. We want to help you counter fear and anxiety with the knowledge that comfort is not far away. However, we also want you to know that, just as you are sitting with these words, there are times when powerful grief asks us to be still. In nature, after all, this is a season of rest and waiting. So we know that, despite how much we want to find the holiday spirit, sometimes sadness is present and mourning is real. We understand the tension between the holidays we want to have and the holidays that we must have.

Let us continue to be the part of your family that understands - because we do. Whether you need comfort, companionship, and a hand to hold during this season, or if your calm comes from planning, preparing, and knowing change will come - know that, when you feel most vulnerable, you're being held close by people who care.

With warmth and affection, 
Emily Muñoz