The message from last week asked survivors to write a paragraph with an example from their loved one's life that guides them today. Several people replied with their thoughts and gave examples of how they are striving to honor the personality traits of their loved one and continue their loved one's service to others. From gathering together to tell stories to working on projects, the celebration of our loved one's existence is important to our healing. This is not an easy thing to do and it takes time to find what is best for you, but perhaps some of these stories will inspire you to try something and then send me an email at email@example.com to tell me about it and we will share it in a later Saturday morning message.
This Sunday is Fathers' Day which can be another hard holiday for survivors. All throughout the year there are holidays and also days that are special just to the survivor like anniversary dates. When people are grieving, often there are periods of anxiety or "blue" times that happen especially around dates that are special for us. They can be overwhelming. Often the strategies that we find to offer relief during grief continue to help us when stress comes at us throughout life. For next week's message, let us share some of the approaches you have used that have helped when these special days come into your life. Sharing these ideas help all of us as we walk together.
I look forward to reading your responses and posting them for the group next week.
From Tammie, surviving mother of Gregory: I will never forget when Hurricane Ike hit the Texas Coast. It created so much devastation. Galveston, Texas was the worst hit. Greg went down to Galveston to help the people there in any way he could. He prayed for some and helped clean up. He had tears in his eyes from looking at so much disaster and the people lost in this storm. This was the great hero that Gregory was. This brings tears to my eyes thinking about how compassionate he was and the love he had for people. The way the family celebrated Memorial Day and honored Gregory was that his 80 year old grandparents, sisters and I went to Gregory's resting place. We visited him and decorated his grave site with USA flags all around his headstone. We held hands and prayed and reflected on Greg's life and reminisced about how caring and loving a son, grandson, brother, and father he was! We took turns telling the most memorable times we all shared with him.
From Cyndi, surviving mother of Jerome: Though I miss that face every day, depending on my mood, I can smile a little when I look at his picture. Jerry was a leader, yet he had such compassion for other people.
After I lost Jerry I needed to find a project that would keep his memory alive yet benefit someone every day. I welcomed home a young Marine, James, in December of 2010 at the airport. He had spent many months at Walter Reed. He had lost both of his legs, very high up. This boy had a smile from ear to ear and his strength and will to survive, touched me. I called him and asked if he would like one of those hand crank cycles. He was so very thrilled and my project began. I raised funds from the very generous people in our surrounding communities. So James was the very first to get one of these bikes, in memory of my son. Every time James rides his bike, my son also rides with the wind and sun on his face. The latest presentation is going to be a big fundraiser with the money going to get more bikes as always in memory of a fallen military person. These boys have become a very important part of my healing-I give them something and the emotional, spiritual feeling I receive in return, makes me think of my son and smile. I am doing what my son did by helping others.
My life has changed, but there is a courage and strength that's inside me giving me a confidence, Jerry's confidence, that has me doing things I never could before like helping moms struggling with deployments, sharing stories with Gold Stars, welcoming home our returning children, sitting with moms of severely injured children helping them cope and realize just how blessed they are. Sometimes I have to dig real deep, but Jerry's right there helping me. He is looking down and smiling. That's the way he lived. I'm trying to do and live my life like him.
From Frank, surviving father of Joseph: Joe had the ability to forgive. He never saw the color of the skin of the people he befriended. He loved to laugh, and be outlandish. He wanted to be a friend, to all. He was not always perfect, but he had a caring heart. I want to live like him, and mean it. Before I die, I hope to emulate Joe for one day and mean it with all my heart.
From Caryn, surviving mother of Nathan: One of my son, Nate's, favorite expressions was "No Worries" and he constantly said it to everyone, but especially to me! I've gone through a lot and it started when Nathan was just 3 months old and I was hit by a drunk driver. Many surgeries and many illnesses were to follow, including Lupus! So yeah, I worried. But Nate was always so laid back everyone believed in him, and he would always say, "Mom, you shouldn't worry so much. You know it always works itself out ... No Worries Mom!" So that's how I try to live my life now, not worrying about things I can't change. And, of course, as usual, Nate is right, things always seem to work themselves out! No Worries! Peace!
From Kathi, surviving mother and Renee, surviving sister of Samuel: Sam was honest, brave, courageous, honorable, hardworking, and he was the most positive person I knew. He was encouraging, and he never spoke a harsh word about anyone. I've never heard him gossip about anyone. As a matter of fact, he never even engaged in gossip....He was the picture of a true Christian, because his role model in life was Jesus. He was never judgmental or critical. He was loving, levelheaded, rational, and generous. Sam taught me how to be a better mother, a better Christian, and a more generous person. When I used to try to engage him in gossip, he would politely decline. I now make an effort to decline as well. Sam was generous, particularly with the time he gave to others. So in an effort to honor him I am going to enlist my time with Toys for Tots. Sammy's unit was involved with Toys for Tots. They came to our aid at Christmas just 11 days after Sam was killed. It is a way to give back and say thanks, as well as to honor his memory.
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 individual 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, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 1-800-959-8277.