Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Walking the Talk

- Shakespeare

On Sunday September 23, 2017, I volunteered at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness walk, in San Francisco. Over one thousand people who'd been personally touched by suicide gathered together to honor and remember those who have been lost. Participants brought awareness to the issue of suicide. All of these efforts were concrete steps in the critically important effort to end stigma. 

The event was useful, hopeful, and healing.

Chelise Stroud with Heather McDowall Schaefer
September 23, 2017, San Francisco, CA

In the field of grief counseling, we often encourage those who are moving through the process of grief recovery to get into action. Action often refers to 'returning' to life. Adjusting to life without the person they've lost can be a challenge. One symptom of grief is feeling as if you no longer have a purposeful place in the world without your loved one. Getting into action by helping others can be tremendously healing.

Further, offering your time and talents to causes you feel an affinity for can be particularly healing. The website 'Open To Hope' explains why volunteering for an organization whose cause you feel a personal connection to can make a difference:

'Now that you’ve found your own way through the many challenges of grief, you have a great deal to share with others who are suffering: you can identify with their struggles, empathize with their sorrows and doubts, and offer valuable information and support.'

In addition to helping the causes that need us, we also personally benefit from volunteering. United Health recently commissioned a study that showed volunteering your time to causes you care about can improve your mental well-being and your overall happiness.

'The majority of survey participants reported feeling both physically and mentally healthier after a volunteer experience. Most of the participants cited mood improvement, lower stress levels, an enriched sense of purpose and just feeling healthier as a result of volunteering.'

Whether you are a survivor of suicide loss, an attempt survivor, or a person who just cares about the cause, there are many ways that you can make a difference in raising awareness and preventing suicides. Click on the box below, to learn more!

On October 14, 2017, I will also be at the Oakley California AFSP walk. This time I'm not volunteering, I am participating. I will be walking alongside a team put together by John's family.

John's sister writes: 

'We walk for those who struggle every day to see the grace of God in their lives. There is nothing worse than the loss of hope. We know that suicide is a result of mental health issues - for no one who is thinking clearly would take their own precious life. I personally walk in remembrance of my brothers David and John Macaluso whose struggles were beyond our understanding. Not a day goes by that we wish this was not our story - but we walk because we cannot imagine the struggles that they faced - and for the countless others that face mental health issues every day. We walk to raise awareness - you never know someone's back story and all that they endure. We walk to end the stigma of suicide. We would love for anyone interested to donate in support of this cause.'

If you would like to support The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, please consider making a donation to our team by clicking on the link below:


Open to Hope; Healing Greif Through the Gift of Volunteering;; Volunteering is the Best Medicine for Grief;; Health and Volunteering Study;
National Service Government Website: