When we are hurting, deep in our grief, helping others may not seem possible. And like everything else in the grieving process, volunteering will work for some and not others. That said, it’s been studied and shown that helping others and volunteering for a cause may help ease the grieving process.
UnitedHealth Group did a study and found that most people felt mentally and physically healthier after a volunteer experience, primarily in relation to mood improvement, lower stress levels and an enhanced sense of purpose. These can be helpful when we are grieving.
Volunteering for something we find fulfilling can take our mind off of our grief and allow us to see a bigger purpose in life. It’s difficult to focus on our own personal struggles when serving at a homeless shelter or food pantry.
In the United States approximately 25% of the adult population volunteers, mostly Baby Boomers and Millennials, each donating about 52 hours a year to all types of charitable organizations. The value to the organizations is estimated at nearly $200 billion annually. That support enables many of the charitable organizations to continue providing services.
Volunteering is also a loving way to honor someone we have lost, helping their legacy live on. In Heartbroken, Grief and Hope Inside the Opioid Crisis, the book I co-authored with Diana Cuddeback, Director of Heartlinks Grief Center and Matthew Ellis, MPE, one of the stories is that of Lenny and the loss of his son, Michael.
Lenny formed the not-for-profit organization, Piece of my Heart, to honor his son and raise funds for families who have lost a child. The annual golf tournament Lenny organizes provides help to those who badly need it, and allows him to channel his grief into a positive remembrance of his beloved son, who was an avid golfer.
Volunteering also provides an important example for our children and grandchildren – we know they usually model not what we say, but what we do. And, participating in charitable activities is a great way to meet new people and can foster meaningful social connections.
So, let’s all get out there this year and volunteer!!
Heartlinks Grief Center has many roles for volunteers. In addition to helping directly with clients, volunteers are utilized across the organization. For example, I assist them with business strategy and consulting (and get to write this blog for them, too!) Give Melissa at Heartlinks a call today to see how you could be of service and become one of our treasured volunteers.
Proceeds from the sale of my books are donated to help support Heartlinks Grief Center, a program of Family Hospice of Belleville, IL.
“We Grow Stronger Together”