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As professionals who help grieving people find their way through life-changing loss, we are always considering the question: What are good ways to help people cope? We stay informed of the most current expert knowledge that is available, providing grievers with important and useful information to help them understand their own unique grief experience. We offer support groups and individual counseling for those who need extra help working through their losses. There is also another very important, easily accessible and simple coping method that anyone can engage in.
Did you know (it has been researched and validated), that volunteerism, or giving back to others, is one of the single most effective coping strategies for grieving people? The “feel good” behind giving of yourself is nothing new. If you do an Internet search on the subject, you will find many inspirational quotes, from Victor Frankle, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and others. Booker T. Washington is quoted as saying, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”

Why is volunteerism an effective coping strategy? For one thing, when doing something for someone else, the focus is shifted away from one’s own problems toward something or someone else. This provides a distraction, of sorts, for the griever. People also report an internal experience after engaging in helping others, similar to a runner’s high. Additionally, getting involved with others is a healthy way to move through one of the important tasks of grief: putting energy back into life and learning to go forward without the person who died. Some grievers may also find that they develop continuing bonds with that person through service to others, or they may discover new meaning and purpose in life.

This was the inspiration behind a new offering through the Hosparus Grief Counseling Center, called “Giving Through Grief.” This program provides social time for grieving people to create new relationships with others while also participating in volunteer activities. In 2015, our first Giving Through Grief group sorted food at the Dare to Care Food Bank and filled stockings for children coming to our Kourageous Kids holiday party. It was exciting to see the positive response from those who participated and to hear them recommend this to others in their support groups! We are working on a series of new opportunities in 2016, starting in the second quarter.
Do you have some ideas for simple service projects? We would love to hear them. You can contact us by emailing: griefsupport@hosparus.org.

Of course, you don’t have to wait for us ¬– get out there and get involved! Take good care of yourself and your grief by caring for others. To quote poet Merritt Malloy, “Love doesn’t die, people do. When all that’s left of me is love, give me away.”