Healing Stories Transcend Cultural Boundaries

Author: Bevin Landrum

Not every TAPS survivor is able to attend one of our healing events. Family or health constraints may leave us feeling isolated and alone in our grief. For our families, their TAPS Survivor Care Team contact, our community-based care connections and the TAPS Magazine may be the only regular supports they have. When you add on a parallel cultural grief experience it can feel overwhelming.

Arlington Cemetery

Maria Lazaney wanted to honor her son, Staff Sgt. Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez, on his angelversary. Carlos was killed in 2014 in a shooting at Fort Hood. His parents, wife, siblings and others look forward to each of our TAPS Magazine editions to help them find their way through the confusing aftermath of grief. So Maria reached out to her Survivor Care Team contact a few months ago to see how they could share their traditions with other survivors. 

The family's Puerto Rican heritage means they visit his grave frequently, offer special masses and pray for Carlos and other military families experiencing loss. But they also try to perpetuate the memory of Carlos as "a great soldier, a great son" by recounting the story of his life each year on his angelversary. Within their culture, this annual reminder of the special person they miss is a way to honor the life he lived. Knowing that TAPS is here for their whole family gives them hope to have courage in the face of their loss. 

Another TAPS survivor remembers watching strange women cry at her grandfather's funeral. She didn't know who they were, but they seemed to cry and mourn more than some of her own family members. It was many years later that she realized they were wailers - often paid to cry at funerals in the Philippines. It can seem awkward for children and adults to compare their personal grief to unexplained or antiquated cultural standards. TAPS provides a safe place for our survivors to understand that your grief is your own. Loss is not measured in numbers of tears but in the love we hold in our hearts. A Peer Mentor can be an excellent sounding board as we try to navigate our personal experience of grief in the context of our family traditions and culture. 

TAPS family stories of healing transcend cultural boundaries. We blend our traditions into a shared celebration as we honor the memories of those we loved and lost. The happy times remain to bind us together in healing and unity. If you have a story of love or courage and would like information on how to share this in writing with your TAPS family, please contact editor@taps.org

By Bevin Landrum, MA: Bevin has a master’s degree in public relations, is an avid sports fan, cook and Southern hostess. She is a military spouse and the surviving daughter of a World War II veteran. Bevin writes to honor him and all those who serve.