Advertisement

Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

AFTER TRAGEDY, REMEMBERING A FRIEND

Life goes on after a friend dies, but it is hard to act as if nothing has changed when you're still grieving.

Karianne Buser, varsity cheerleader and member of Academy of the Holy Names Ambassadors Club, started her sophomore year extra busy and involved with community and friends.

But this year she has to keep one dear friend and a tragic story in her memory, and that weighs heavy on her heart.

Buser was close with Megan Campbell, one of four members of the Campbell family to die in a triple murder-suicide at the end of the last school year.

After the Campbell home was destroyed by fire, police determined Megan, her mother, Kimberly, and brother, Colin, had been shot by her father, Darrin Campbell, before he shot himself and ignited their Avila home with fireworks he had purchased the day before.

"I knew the Campbells through Carrollwood Day School," Buser said recently. "Our families would spend time together . . . ever since first grade."

The two families dined together, "and occasionally Kim, Megan, my mom, and I would take small trips."

Buser remembers when she found out about the tragedy, from a friend. "I was in the car riding to school, and it was so unreal," she said. "I was in shock and in denial." At this point, details were murky as the house was still ablaze.

"At first, they said they found two bodies, which gave me a bit of hope," Buser said. "By the end of the day, four were confirmed. It was heart wrenching. I couldn't go to class.

"Academy was very helpful the day it happened. A group of friends and I went to the chapel," Buser said, and were allowed to miss class.

Grieving can be especially difficult for teenagers, said teen grief counselor Kathleen Ledbetter of The Life Center of the Suncoast (Tampa).

"In addition to their basic coursework, clubs, and sports, at the same time they're dealing with the big questions of adolescence," Ledbetter said. "That really puts on the extra pressure."

Even though teenagers can be overwhelmed by their workloads and the stresses of growing up, they can be resilient.

"I am often in awe of what they're dealing with," said Ledbetter, who deals with grieving teens on a regular basis. "Remaining connected with family, friends, community and social activities" is crucial to the grieving process, she said.

So as Buser and others who miss Megan Campbell make their way through another school year with the loss of a beloved friend fresh in their hearts, sweet memories help.

"My favorite thing about Megan," Buser said, "was that she wasn't afraid to be herself, and could never fail to make me laugh."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement