We had the good fortune of connecting with Keyiona Ritchey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keyiona, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
In August 2019 my twin brother suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at 29 years old. I was in a lot of pain and confused about what happened. A few months after his passing deep in my grief I started attending a local grief support group. This support group helped me tremendously with processing my emotions in a safe place with others who have lost a loved one. However, I often found myself the only African American woman and participant under 60 years old attending this group. After doing a lot of healing work I decided I wanted to provide this same space and opportunity to others who come from similar backgrounds I come from. I want to help bridge the equity gap for low income and people of color who are grieving to have a space to learn and explore positive coping mechanisms as an outlet for their grief. Thus the Buddy Love Grief Support was started. It is a free and online grief support group.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My day job is in higher education as the Guardian Scholars Program Coordinator at Cabrillo College. Essentially I help support current and former foster youth meet their educational goals. I am a proud first generation graduate. The road to get to where I am at in my career has not been easy by any means. I attended graduate school at the University of Vermont (UVM). This was the first time I moved out of the state and lived in a predominately white setting. That experienced challenged me and showed me resiliency is in my DNA. I had to learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and never give up. These experiences are the foundation and building blocks of me creating the Buddy Love Grief Support Group. In the depts of my grief I realized I wanted to be able to help others cope with their grief because I know that pain and sadness. That feeling of hitting rock bottom and not knowing how to get up. Unfortunately, their are a lot of barriers to access mental health resources for people who are low income and people of color. I want to help normalize conversations about grief and promote healing after a loss. Losing someone you love is extremely hard. Often grief is masked with unhealthy coping mechanisms. I want to provide an accessible space for people to process what they are going through in a healthy way. Lessons I’ve learned are: to have patience, remember my purpose and why I am doing what I’m doing, grief is hard to talk about and makes people uncomfortable. I want people to know the Buddy Love Grief Support Group is a free and accessible space to process your grief with others who are also grieving the loss of a loved one. This is a space to promote healing no matter where you are in your journey. I do this all in the name of Buddy Love as my twin brother is affectionally known as Buddy. This is to honor is life and memory while helping others.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Morning hike at Sunset Cliffs Brunch at the Family House of Pancakes
Trip to Balboa Park
Hanging out at my parents apartment in City Heights
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to thank my sisters Chayna, Gina, and Porche for always being there for me through the highs and the lows. My good friend Nicole Berry who has a heart of gold for always holding me down, supporting me, and encouraging me in everything I do. Lastly, I want to thank Papillon Grief and Transition Group for being the inspiration and support behind starting my own grief support group.