BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) held a special ceremony at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Baton Rouge Sunday for those who've lost loved ones serving in the military.
Nicole Little lost her husband in a helicopter crash four years ago while she was two months pregnant with their daughter.
"My family was never the same after that," Little said. "What should have been a very happy time for me, my pregnancy with my only daughter that I have now, turned out to be very bittersweet."
Bittersweet memories is the bond that ties the more than 100 people who showed up to the conference together.
Erin Yaggy said turning to TAPS has helped her and her daughter heal.
"TAPS has helped me find all the ways to be a better mom and be a better me so I can be the best caregiver for her," she said.
The national non-profit organization wrapped up the seminar Sunday afternoon after spending the weekend helping surviving family members deal with their grief.
Zaneta Gileno, a TAPS spokesperson, said events like the one in Baton Rouge help families across the country cope regardless of how their loved one died.
"When we get together with others and we do the hard work of grief and mourning we're really able to integrate that loss into our life and make meaning out of it and that's what events that TAPS do brings to our families," Gileno added.
Perhaps the biggest gift came at the end of the conference. Participants were given the chance to write messages to their loved ones on balloons and release those messages to the sky - directly to those they've lost.
Alice Daniel, who lost her son in 2009, said the feeling is indescribable.
"You feel like you're touching just a little part of them...that they get these balloons...somehow someway," she said.
As participants turned their eyes to the sky there was a sense of comfort and relief knowing while they've lost one family member, they've gained so many more loved ones within the TAPS program.
"We have that bond. It's so much easier to talk to someone that truly understands where you're coming from and TAPS is a blessing for all of us," Daniel said.
The TAPS program plans to create a Louisiana care group which is expected to be up and running sometime later this month.
For more information about TAPS, click here.