Will Volunteering Help the Grieving Process?
Like anything else in the grieving process, this is subjective and will vary by person. What works for one may not work for another. That being said, it’s been shown that volunteering and giving of oneself can help ease the grieving process. If you have lost a loved one in Alameda County and elsewhere, you may benefit greatly from bereavement services, which can include anything from support groups to volunteer work.
Depending on where you are in your grief journey, there may come a point where you feel the need to channel your pain, along with the time and energy you once devoted to the relationship with your loved one, into something that’s productive and meaningful. Volunteering is a great way to achieve that because you truly understand the grieving process and may be in the best position to reach out to others who are suffering from loss. You’ve found your way through the challenges of your own grief and may be ready to share your coping skills with others who are in the same boat. Not only can you identify with their struggles, but you can also empathize with their sorrows and doubts, offering invaluable information and support, says Grief Healing.
When you give of yourself as a volunteer, you can pursue personal interests, hone old skills and learn new skills, all while making a positive impact in the community.
How Volunteering Helps After Loss
Life shifts after losing someone you love, so it’s critical that you not dwell on the past but rather become “forward-focused.” Find something you’re passionate about, learn as much as you can about it, and then volunteer. In a sense, paying it forward helps you to cope, says Vitas Healthcare. Here are some ways in which it helps the grieving process:
- It’s good for the mind and body: Studies show that volunteering your time to a good cause can boost mental well-being and happiness. The study, commissioned by UnitedHealth Group, found that most people felt mentally and physically healthier after a volunteer experience, mostly in relation to mood improvement, lower stress levels, and enhanced sense of purpose. Another study by the Corporation for National Community Service found that volunteering can reduce high blood pressure, improve self-esteem, increase endorphin production and boost the immune system.
- It’s a meaningful way to honor a loved one: Over time, you may feel less and less of a connection between yourself and your loved one. Volunteering is a great way to bring that connection back while honoring your loved one in a meaningful, enriching way. Volunteering helps you honor their life by helping others, with your loved one being an inspiration and a way to give back.
- It takes your mind off your own grief: By helping others in the community, volunteering gives you a chance to step back, see the world as something bigger than yourself, and — at least for a moment — push back your grief and take a reprieve from your own suffering. If only for a little while, you can immerse yourself in something fulfilling and take your mind off your own grief. You deserve this break, so take it!
How You Can Help
Finding volunteer opportunities in the first place can be the hardest part of actually getting out there and doing something. Here at Pathways Home Health and Hospice, we offer many opportunities for you to give back. There are several ways to volunteer in a way that matches your time and talents. We will even work with your schedule and your location to make your volunteering experience as rewarding as possible for all involved. Our volunteers usually give about four hours of their time each week, with additional opportunities for special projects with more commitment.
Here are some ways you may consider giving of yourself:
- Patient and Family Support Volunteer: These volunteers serve as members of the hospice team, providing support services that range from companionship and friendly visiting to active listening and bedside sitting. You can even share your hobbies and interests such as gardening, listening to music, reading, crafts and more.
- Veteran Volunteer: Those with military experience can assist veteran patients and their families through unique companionship services that are grounded in the mutual camaraderie between veteran volunteers and veteran patients.
- Office Volunteer: These people assist Pathways Staff with patient and non-patient related administration, including tasks related to data entry, mailings, filing, brochure assembly and volunteering for events like Christmas caroling, Afternoon of Remembrance, Celebration of Light, and the annual Heart Golf tournament.
- Licensed/Certified Therapies Volunteer: These trained volunteers provide specialized care in practices such as Reiki, massage therapy, Acutonics, pet companionship, and hair styling.
- Special Projects Volunteer: Nurses, social workers, and volunteers can bring comfort items to patients such as homemade blankets and throws, pillows, and essential oil baskets.
- Corporate Volunteer: Businesses and individuals interested in collaborating with Pathways on projects and events are also welcome to help.
- Bereavement Intern Volunteer: This program provides compassionate, non-judgmental support to individuals and families who are going through loss.
Pathways offers specialized training throughout the year for all volunteers.