Video: TAPS helps military families cope with loss

By Martin Savidge Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/25/2007 12:39:19 PM ET 2007-01-25T17:39:19

Taps marks the end of another military funeral, but for the family, the grieving has just begun.

On the phone, Joanna Wroblewski helps a recent military widow whose walls are crashing in.

"You just have to concentrate on getting up in the morning, breathing in and out, and getting through your day," she tells her.

Wroblewski has heard the questions before: How do I go on? How do I love again? How do I let go?

She's asked them herself.

In 2003 she married the Marine of her dreams, then just over a year later lost him to a sniper in Iraq.

Now she is a mentor for TAPS, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. The nonprofit organization connects grieving military families.

It's how Courtney Nyren of Virginia came to meet and mentor Chris Norton of Oklahoma.

Norton's husband died in Iraq just 12 months ago.

"I was so far in denial that I didn't think it was really happening to me," she says. 

It's also how their daughters, 9-year-old Rebecca and 10-year-old Brooke, met. Together they share the grief of losing their fathers.

"He was a friend and he meant everything to me," says Rebecca about her dad.

Video: In her own words They attended Camp Good Grief, another TAPS project, where children can write notes to their dead moms or dads and mail them skyward, and not feel strange about it.

"I think it helps to know that I'm not the only one," says Brooke.

Bonnie Carroll started TAPS after the death of her husband in 1994 and says the need continues to grow.

"We get anywhere from six to 20 phone calls a day from new families," she says.

Recently, Rebecca and Brooke ran in a mile-long race to remember their fathers.

Like many TAPS has united, they've come to understand grief is not quickly conquered, but something you can come to grips with in the long run.

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