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.