New app connects grieving strangers through texts
DECATUR, Ga. - It's been nearly 2 years since Robynne Boyd of Decatur said goodbye to her mother Carol, and her marriage.
"For a while, the world felt more untenable, it felt shakier," Boyd says.
With time, the grief has lessened its grip.
"It doesn't feel as intense, it doesn't felt as acute," Boyd explains. "I don't cry all the time."
She credits some of her healing to Kim Libertini, a single mom and high school science teacher 900 miles away in Huntington, New York. Libertini knows exactly what Boyd has been through because she's been there herself.
"Tomorrow I'll go to the cemetery," Libertini says. " It will be 3 years tomorrow."
Three years since Libertini's partner Adam went into cardiac arrest and died, just after they had arrived in Vietnam for vacation. With two boys to raise and a job to return to, Libertini found herself having to fake being okay. She would give coworkers and friends the same answer, over and over.
"'Oh, I'm doing fine. I'm doing fine," Boyd told them. "But, I wasn't really fine."
In the fall of 2015, a mutual friend introduced Boyd and Libertini by text message.
They began what they call a friendship in reverse: pouring their hearts out, with little time for small talk.
"It was kind of amazing," Boyd says.
I felt like we never skipped a beat," Libertini echoes.
"We started texting with each other, and everything she would say felt familiar to me," Boyd says. "So, it became very personal, very quickly."
They both had their own friends and support systems.
Still, grieving can be tough on relationships.
"It also felt really nice to put that burden somewhere else, not in my immediate circle," Boyd says.
When Boyd needed help, she'd pick up the phone and send Libertini a message.
"It's just having someone catch you when you think you just aren't able to make it through that moment," she says.
That unique connection inspired the app "Goodgrief." The women say it is kind of a social network for loss. You download the app and create a profile. You can also choose to remain anonymous,
"You go through this very quick series of questions," Boyd explains. "It says, 'Who have you lost? How have you lost them? And, when did you lose them?"
Boyd says users are mourning all kinds of losses, from illness to accidents or tragedies, to stillbirth or miscarriage. Some are grieving multiple losses. Once you've plugged in your information, Boyd says Goodgrief will connect you to users experience a similar loss to yours
Then, you can send those users a message, to see if they want to connect through the in-app texting.
"So, you can reach out to someone and say, 'Hey, I want to chat, I've lost my mother, too,'" Boyd explains.
And these two friends, who helped each other through the darkest moments of their lives
"We have never met," Boyd laughs. "I think it's really funny, I think it's cool,"
Because they've helped each other, and now want to help others pick up the pieces, one text at a time.
"I think we both have an amazing respect for each other, and I think we're proud of what we've created together," Kim Libertini says.
You can find the Goodgrief app in the iOS App Store, Google Play or on online at goodgriefapp.com.
The app is free for the first 3 months.
After that, it's $4.99 a month.