TAPS Statement on Presidential Condolences to the Families of the Fallen


ARLINGTON, Va. -– The following statement is attributable to Bonnie Carroll, President and Founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS): 

America mourns the loss of its service members, and we send our deepest condolences to the families struggling to cope with the death of a child, spouse, sibling or parent. Presidents have historically acknowledged these deaths in a variety of ways, ranging from a personal letter to a phone call to a visit at Dover AFB or attendance at a memorial service. In 1864, President Lincoln penned the following words to Mrs. Bixby in condolence of the death of her sons.

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

While there is no one way to acknowledge the death, what is important for the family is that the President acknowledges the life and service of their loved one, and expresses gratitude on behalf of the nation. We can all follow his example and support these families as they grieve. As the organization providing compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen heroes, we encourage everyone to reach out to families who live in your community, coworkers at your office, and those you encounter elsewhere to reassure them their loved ones’ service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Just as there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there is no right or wrong way to express one’s condolences; what matters is that we honor the life and the sacrifice, and provide support for all grieving families so no one has to walk such a difficult journey alone.



The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the national organization providing compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes and has offered support to more than 70,000 surviving family members of our fallen military and their caregivers since 1994. TAPS provides peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, grief seminars and retreats for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, case work assistance, connections to community-based care, online and in-person support groups and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for all who have been affected by a death in the Armed Forces. Services are provided free of charge. For more information go to www.taps.org or call the toll-free TAPS resource and information helpline at 1.800.959.TAPS (8277).