About a year after suddenly losing their young son, James and Caitie Morgan knew they wanted to do something impactful that would help celebrate his life and keep his legacy alive. “My wife and I knew we didn’t want to just move on from him,” James says. “We wanted to move forward with him.”
Still grappling with the grief of losing a child, the Morgans knew the best way to honor their son, also named James, would be to create something that positively impacted others who were walking a similar path. They thought back over the last year and remembered how beneficial it was to befriend another couple who was also dealing with child loss. It was in that moment that Buddys was born. “It gave us hope,” James says of building a community with others who were experiencing similar grief. “Seeing that this couple had been able to move forward in life and find that joy was so helpful for us.”
Living in Birmingham, the Morgans were fortunate to be surrounded with ample opportunities to connect with other families. James thought, however, that might not have been the case if they lived in a more remote area with fewer networking opportunities. With this in mind, James and Caitie asked the question, “What would enable someone in that situation to connect with others who might be experiencing a similar loss?” The answer was in the palm of their hand — their phone.
Named for their son, who James fondly called his “little buddy” and Caitie’s father, Buddy Parsons, who died a few years before, Buddys is reshaping how people deal with grief. James explains it is a digital platform that offers support for individuals experiencing hardship in one or multiple areas. These areas include family and parenting, loss of a loved one, medical problems, mental health, and relationships. After downloading the free app, users are asked a series of questions. Their answers help funnel them into an online community of other people experiencing similar pains and hardships.
“We want people to feel comfortable sharing, so we don’t ask a lot of personal questions,” James points out. “If you want to share your story, you can. But you have the ability to go in and filter to see different age groups, different states, and search the whole platform.”
Since launching the app, James says the results have been powerful. Families dealing with rare diseases have been able to connect with other families who understand their pains. Individuals who thought there was no one else going through a specific emotional challenge have found others who can relate and understand. The power of connecting with others, James says, is the premise of Buddys. Through individual messaging or small online groups, Buddys creates a network for people to find hope. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, James says Buddys has offered a needed outlet for those experiencing hardship. “If you can’t go to church or work, or wherever you normally talk to someone, this enables that connection,” he says.
From infertility and postpartum depression to chronic illness, divorce and loneliness, there is a wide range of topics that Buddys’ communities touch upon. Since all communication is within the app, James says users can be assured their privacy is protected. By building relationships between people experiencing similar journeys, the app is meant to make a big world feel a little less lonely, James says.
“People are used to this type of application already because of social media,” adds James. “We just wanted to give people a platform that’s real and allows them to connect with others to connect and help.”
Although Buddys shouldn’t be used as a substitution for in-person therapy, James says it acts as a great supplement for dealing with grief. So if you’re looking for a free outlet to develop meaningful connections, Buddys is a great option.
Perhaps the best demonstration of the app’s mission can be found in its logo, which features two letter Bs (two buddies) coming together to form a symbol of transformation, renewal, rebirth and growth: a butterfly. “Sharing experiences, sharing resources, that’s what we’re here for,” James says.
All images provided.
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