What to Expect at a Seminar
Author: Carla Stumpf-Patton
In our grief, it can be difficult to imagine traveling to an event along with other bereaved survivors, many of whom are strangers, where the focus is on addressing our innermost pain in hopes of healing. And, yet, that is what happens when attending a TAPS Survivor Seminar.
An understanding about what to expect in advance of attending can often ease emotions for first-time participants and your TAPS family wants you to know you are not alone, as these are questions many survivors often have prior to attending. We know nothing can alleviate the pain of loss, but our staff does everything possible to promote an atmosphere of care, support and healing through the grief work, while connecting you with fellow survivors who understand the nature of grieving a military loss.
It can feel overwhelming to walk into unknown territory, but from the moment you arrive, you will be surrounded by the love and care of TAPS family. You will put faces to the names of some of us with whom you have already been in contact. As fellow survivors, we will be there to walk by your side.
There may be people hugging, crying and perhaps, even smiling or laughing - because they are grateful to be back in a safe place to grieve in the company of fellow survivors who "get it." For many, this is the one place they can be authentic in their grief and feel a deep connection others.
At check-in, we will greet you, give you materials, an event program, an event T-shirt and a photo button of your loved one if you chose to submit one. The photo button may bring up emotions, but we are here to support you and love to hear about each other's fallen heroes. These photos are often showcased in either slideshows or banners at the event as a sacred way to honor the memories of our loved ones.
There will be workshops for understanding and processing grief as well as smaller sharing group sessions where you can connect with peers. Nobody is forced to talk, but we encourage people to participate at their own comfort level to get the most out of the event.
Some of the most courageous and compassionate people you could ever meet will be there with you. To be sure, there will be tears, but they fall in the shadow of hugs and love. In time, there will be smiles as we rejoice in the memory of our loved ones.
We hope you will come to find, like so many others, a transformation that happens from the time you arrive to the time you depart. That you will leave having found some level of comfort knowing you are not alone in your grief. TAPS Seminars give you space to feel the encouragement and hope that your heart can heal and pride in sharing the life of your loved one with others who are here to honor them with you.
It is hard to explain in words the feelings that come from attending a TAPS Seminar, but people often describe how they had to experience the event firsthand to truly understand how helpful it would be. It can often balance out the hesitation and concerns to know you will arrive at a safe home for your grief, where TAPS has done everything to create an event filled with love, support, healing and hope.
On behalf of our TAPS Seminars team, we look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events where you will be embraced by your TAPS family with care.
By Dr. Carla Stumpf-Patton, Surviving Spouse of Marine Sergeant Richard Stumpf: Carla holds a PhD in Education Counseling Psychology and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Certified Fellow Thanatologist and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. She is the Senior Director, TAPS Suicide Postvention Programs.