‘Grief Buddies’ Can Help You Cope

Whether it was anticipated or sudden, the death of a loved one is a traumatic experience.  Two and a half years ago, my daughter died from the injuries she received in a car crash.  Death was even more shocking when my father-in-law died two days later.   In fact, we were so overcome with shock we started a buddy system.

We were driving buddies. Driving can be dangerous when you’re grieving.  When we needed to go to the store, church, or social event, my husband and I always drove together.  One of us was the driver and the other was the “spotter,” looking for speeding cars and cars that ran stop signs – something that has become common in our community.  The driving buddy system kept us safe.

We were health buddies. Seven years ago, my husband had life-threatening surgery for a dissected aorta.  He survived the surgery and takes a variety of medications to stay healthy. But often, in the early stages of grief, he would forget to take his medicine and I would have to remind him.  He reminds me about my medications, too.

We were crying buddies. American society thinks “real men” don’t cry, but my husband didn’t care, and many times, especially when he went to check on our daughter’s house, he would break down.  “I always feel better after crying,” he said.  When I cried for an entire day his response was, “Good for you.”

We were comfort buddies. Eight weeks after my daughter and father-in-law died, my brother had a heart attack and died.  My husband comforted me, and I continued to comfort him.  We’ve always been close and comforting each other had drawn us even closer.

We were grief trigger buddies. Grief triggers – the first anniversary of loss, your loved one’s birthday, and holidays – can cause renewed feelings of grief.  We prepared for these days by sharing feelings, planning activities, and connecting with relatives.  Friends also served as grief trigger buddies.

We were planning buddies.  Neither of us expected to be raising teenagers at this time of life.  But here we are, listening to rock music, learning teen slang, getting updates on teen fashions and homecoming customs.  We have made careful plans for our grandchildren’s education and future.  If they want to go to graduate school, we will make that happen.

Grief is confusing and I encourage you to think about getting a grief buddy.  Your buddy may be your spouse, a dear friend, someone who is also grieving, or a member of your church.  The buddy system helps to protect you and keep you safe.  Having someone at your side also makes the grief journey easier.

Harriet Hodgson

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Harriet Hodgson has been a freelancer for 38 years, is the author of 36 books, and thousands of print/Internet articles. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Minnesota Coalition for Grief Education and Support, and Grief Coalition of Southeastern Minnesota. In 2007 four of her family members died—her daughter (mother of her twin grandchildren), father-in-law, brother (and only sibling), and the twins’ father. Multiple losses shifted the focus of Hodgson’s work from general health to grief resolution and recovery, and she is the author of eight grief resources. Hodgson has appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, dozens of blog talk radio programs, and dozens of television stations, including CNN. In addition to writing for Open to Hope, Hodgson is a contributing writer for The Grief Toolbox website, and The Caregiver Space website. A popular speaker, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, hospice, grief, and caregiving conferences. Hodgson’s work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors, and other directories. For more information about this busy wife, grandmother, author and family caregiver, please visit www.harriethodgson.com.

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