In November I was offered a volunteer assignment to become a Bereavement Buddy to the adult daughter of a Hospice patient who died a year ago, right before the holidays. I gladly accepted the assignment, well-aware that many people have difficulty getting through the holidays, and that the holidays are often particularly sad for those who have lost a loved one around that time of year. I learned from Sheri (my volunteer coordinator) that my client (we’ll call her “Mary”) and her mother were always very close and had spent most of their free time together.

I contacted Mary by phone to introduce myself and we chatted about her life, her interests, and what she wanted to do when we met the following week (I was keen to learn how she wanted to spend our time together!)

We met for lunch the following week and, although Mary mentioned how much she still misses her mother, we mostly just talked about her family, her upcoming holiday plans, and the many changes in the Asheville / Hendersonville area that she has witnessed over the years (my client being one of the few natives this transplanted Michigander has met!) Mall walking/window shopping was one of Mary and her mother’s favorite pastimes, and we decided to meet in two weeks and walk the mall. Since then, we have met to walk, talk, and laugh together (and I hug her when thoughts of her mother bring tears to her eyes).

I consider the most important aspects of my role as a Bereavement Buddy to be total acceptance, compassion without judgment, and providing a safe place for Mary to simply BE. I feel honored and blessed to be a small part of Mary’s life.

— Sherry Binkelman