Why does helping others help you heal?
… Shifting the focus off of your pain, for even a short time, can bring great feelings of relief and a sense of purpose and joy in helping another — especially when you see the results or hear the gratitude.
I was looking for ways to heal after losing three of my children at different times and in different ways. I lost two babies, then my 21-year-old son in a tragic motorcycle accident. This third loss was so devastating my thirty-year marriage fell apart. My remaining son temporarily flunked out of college and I attempted suicide. I had to do something to heal!
I embarked on a spiritual journey, using many holistic healing methods but my intuition told me that helping others would also help me heal. Ten years ago I founded a local chapter of an international organization, The Compassionate Friends of Greater Newburyport, which I still lead. Through that, I’ve worked with hundreds of families after devastating loss.
I was amazed at how much reaching out to other bereaved families has helped me. By connecting and telling our stories, we help each other heal. Listening to these parents and families express their grief, their anger, their frustrations, and their love has had an impact on me. I feel empathy; they know it, and they return it to me. We have amazing deep and soulful conversations where we both grow and learn.
After I’ve spent time with a newly bereaved parent and they or one of their loved ones tell me how much better they felt after talking to me, I could cry with joy. I sometimes do. They have an impact on me, and it feels wonderful to help, even in the smallest ways. I remember how grateful I was in my early grief when someone would just listen to me and not run away or judge when I cried or got angry. Often, the parents do not need advice. Rather, they need to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience and to understand how they survived it. They need to see that it is possible they will survive too, that they can have hope for finding a “new normal.” —that they and their families will eventually be okay.
Finding a cause you care about, whether it is related to your grief or not, it helps you place your focus outward onto others. When you make that shift, time passes more quickly, and you heal as you are busy helping. Everyone wins because you can’t help others without being helped yourself. It feels miraculous.
When you feel ready, start small —
— I suspect you will get hooked !
Love and healing to you…