Saturday Morning Message: A Sense of Accomplishment

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

The picture this week is from Ginny, mother of Patrick. You will read about what she is doing later in the message. Since there were so many wonderful replies this week, I will keep my comments short.

Virgina Feeks Training her Dog Sam

One thing that gives me a sense of accomplishment each week is seeing the Saturday Morning Message come to my mailbox. Then, I know you have all received it, too. For those of you who find writing a comfort, there are two ways to be creative and write about your loved one. The first is the Saturday Morning Message, which is a weekly form of communication in which survivors respond to questions about their journey. It not only goes to survivors who sign up, but it is also posted on the TAPS Stayed Informed News section, Topic Saturday Morning Message. The second is the Writers’ Circle Newsletter. This is a monthly publication of longer pieces, poems and pictures that is sent to a closed group of survivors who sign up for it. The pieces can be used in other TAPS publications. If you would like to sign up for one or both of these groups, contact online@taps.org.

If you have questions or topics you would like to see addressed in the Saturday Morning Message, you can email me at online@taps.org. In addition to replies that are placed in the message, I also look for thoughts you have. You can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. Replies to the weekly question are best sent to me by Tuesday afternoon. You are an important part of this message, and I look forward to your questions or any ideas you may have. If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them. Thank you to all who respond and to those who read this message. 

Hugs,
Carol 

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

Linda, mother of Eric, sent this week’s question: Does “feeling better” make you feel like you’re letting go or forgetting your loved one? What are you doing to keep the memories so you aren’t afraid of losing them? This may sound a bit like this week’s question, but there were so many wonderful responses this week, I hope to encourage more survivors to share what they do. 

Song for the Week 

Caryn, mother of Nathan and spouse of Micheal, sent the song for this week, which is “Awakening” by Celtic Woman. Listening to the song’s lyrics and bright music made me think about going from the depths of grief toward the light, especially when someone holds out a hand like the women in this video do. If you have a favorite song, please send it to me. I am always looking for more songs.    

Answers from Survivors

Virgina Feeks Training her Dog SamFrom Ginny, mother of Patrick: I know that my son would want me to live my life to the fullest and do what I love. I have started competing in agility with our dog, Sam! It has been fun to see him get better and better! He is such a happy dog and loves his job. He brings me joy. Working with him gives me a focus and seeing his (our) progress gives me a sense of accomplishment.

We have also formed a group of swimmers who will be swimming in the 3.1-mile Tampa Bay Frogman Swim on Jan. 15 in memory of Patrick and in support of the Navy SEAL foundation. The foundation has been such a great support to us. We want to pay it forward by raising funds for the foundation. So far our team, TEAM CRY HAVOC, has raised $18,000! Our team has five swimmers: our daughter, two of my husband’s roommates from the Naval Academy, a former swim teammate of Pat's and a family friend.

From Tabitha, spouse of Michael: Since my husband’s passing, I’ve been having a hard time just going from day to day. I have been fairly remiss in taking care of myself, the house, etc. Every little thing is exhausting, and every little thing just seems so hard. I’ve had a few people reach out to help. However, they are much younger than me and have not experienced loss. Because of this, their patience has worn thin. Whenever I ask for help, it usually comes with a price. It can be a lecture, someone talking down to me and a look of utter disappointment. This then makes it even harder to ask for help later on and makes the task that I need help with even harder. In an effort to correct this, I’m trying to rely on others less and myself more. I imagine there will still be instances where I will need outside assistance. But, I am hopeful that if I try to do stuff myself more then the irritation to my friends will be less. And, if I’m relying on myself more, that means each task (even though still exhausting) leaves me with a great feeling of accomplishment.

From Anne, mother of Michael: My husband, "Buddy," and I used to always plan trips to go to different places and we traveled quite a bit. When I became his caretaker, our life changed drastically, and he was taken from me on June 6, 2015. He was my best friend and I still miss him dearly, but I was a lucky woman to have had such a man in my life. What made me happy this year was to book a flight to Charleston, South Carolina, to visit my niece for a week. I know it will not be the same without my husband, but I feel happy that I had the incentive and the desire to go!

From Chris, mother of Darin: As I continue along my grief journey, I want to know if my son and his fallen comrades made a difference in the lives of the Afghan people. When I learn that girls and women are once again allowed an education, the Afghan National Police have gained strength and the Afghan women are becoming entrepreneurs and leaders, I have hope. As we move into a new year and will soon observe the five-year anniversary of my son's death, I will continue to seek stories of success of the Afghan people and will promote the efforts of non-government organizations as they continue their support, especially through education.

Editor’s Note: Last Memorial Day, Chris wrote a blog called “Pockets of Hope” that includes more information about the difference these brave young people have made in the lives of the Afghan people.

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: What I am going to do is press myself to perform. I have scheduled myself to perform piano pieces at Steinway and Sons in Boca Raton, Florida, in April. I am performing a large number of pieces. There are three rounds in all with a total of one hour of piano music to be learned!

I am then applying to the Washington International Piano Arts Council, which is an amateur piano competition in Washington, D.C. This is in August. So I am keeping busy! If anyone would like to come to either or both, send a request to online@taps.org and I will forward it to Leslie.

From Diane, mother of Caleb: There are so many things that I can't control. I have been downsizing, getting rid of those things that just take up space. I don't do it every day, but sometimes when I'm overwhelmed, just going through a closet or drawer and getting rid of clothes and other things gives me a feeling of accomplishment — for that moment. Organizing a little at a time, in this life where everything seems out of order, helps as well. Oh, things were organized at one time, but since life is so different now, my filing/organization is completely different — it is a whole new journey.

From Robert and Katherine, parents of John: The majority of our activities or ministries will be a continuation into the new year. We participate weekly in Grief Share at our local church, assisting others on their grief journey. There is a feeling of joy when they actually "turn the corner" on their way to a new normal. Completing the book of John in both Women of Grace and Bible Study Fellowship is a goal worthy of time and study in furthering knowledge of the Bible. Speaking and listening to fellow TAPS survivors through the TAPS Peer Mentor program is fulfilling for both the mentor and the mentee as they learn to honor their loved one. Bob enjoys speaking with the children who have lost a parent. He hopes to continue this at the TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar in Washington, D.C., this May.

Our new venture is the establishment of the John M. Conant Memorial Scholarship to be awarded annually to a graduating senior, either male or female, entering the military. The recipient is to maintain a B or better academic average, participate in school and community activities/sports, and exemplify the characteristic of encouragement — John's most valued attribute. It will be awarded in May for the first time at John's alma mater.

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connection, survivors helping survivors, for support and encouragement along the grief journey. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your journey. Content submitted for inclusion in the SMM is edited for spacing considerations and grammatical corrections.

If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, TAPS is available to you 24/7 at 800-959-8277.