5 Reasons Peer Support Has Helped Me Through My Grief
Author: Amanda Klager
You can Google the definition of grief and read it over and over again, but until you go through it you’ll never fully understand.
When my brother, Army Spc. Adam Klager, died friends and loved ones came to my side. They cried with me. They were there for me. But they didn’t understand what I was going through. My family was grieving as well, but their grief was different.
Eight months after my loss, I was paired with a TAPS Peer Mentor, and knowing there was someone who could relate to how I felt was such a comfort. Here are five reasons I’m grateful my peer mentor is by my side through this grief journey:
1. My peer mentor understands me.
When my TAPS Peer Mentor, Carly, reached out to me in the beginning, I was hesitant. She definitely couldn’t bring back my brother, and I was so sure she couldn’t change the way I felt. But, boy, was I wrong. The day I agreed to speak to Carly, another surviving sister, changed my life. She stayed on the phone with me for three hours, listening to me cry, yell and talk through my grief. She understood and gave me advice no one else could offer.
2. I’m never alone.
The “firsts” — the first birthday, the first holiday, the first angelversary — after the loss of your loved one are the roughest. Every day, reality sunk in a little more. Every day, I would send Carly a text message, and she would respond back encouraging me, letting me know my feelings were normal and reminding me I wasn’t alone. On my brother’s birthday, when I thought everyone had forgotten about this special day, my phone rang — it was Carly. She remembered, and together we sang happy birthday to Adam. I had comfort on that day knowing she was there for me.
3. She helped me discover my “new normal.”
Learning to find a “new normal” in my life was difficult. I didn’t know left from right or up from down. When my peer mentor came into my life she showed me how to live with grief. Carly was so patient, kind and understanding with me, and she didn’t judge me as I learned to walk this new path of life.
4. I gained a sister.
I lost my little brother, and while Carly can never replace Adam, I have now gained a sister. I gained a sister for the rest of my life who is there for me through the hard times and the good times. We live on opposite sides of the country, but we always find time for each other. Carly always says, “Us sisters have to stick together,” and I believe that.
5. She showed me how to give back to others.
I recently became a TAPS Peer Mentor myself, but I was hesitant and not sure if I was ready for the task. Carly encouraged me to take this next step, and she shared with me that I had helped her in ways I didn’t even know. I’m excited to help another surviving sister the way Carly has helped me.
There is a saying, “We plan and God laughs.” I’m a firm believer in this; I had a full day planned when two soldiers showed up at my parents’ doorstep. From that moment on, my plans changed, but I’m thankful Carly has been with me every step of the way.
From the pen of…
Amanda Klager, surviving sister of Army Spc. Adam Klager, has been paired with a TAPS Peer Mentor since 2016, and she recently became a peer mentor. Amanda lives in Queens, New York. Her life drastically changed on Jan. 16, 2016, when she lost her little brother.