Bereavement Volunteers

The Bereavement Support Service is provided by the Social Work Department. Along with Bereavement Social Workers, a team of hospice-trained Bereavement Support Volunteers provide one-to-one support to people who are bereaved if their relative or friend was cared for by Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services.

We are recruiting now!
We recruit new volunteers approximately every four years. Applicants are required to complete an application form, attend for interview and obtain Garda vetting. Following successful completion of an intensive eighty hour training programme, which generally takes place on Saturdays, candidates will be invited to join the team of Bereavement Support Volunteers. We ask for a minimum commitment to the service of two years following successful completion of training and volunteers must be available on a Monday night to meet that commitment.

We do not accept applications from professional counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists or social workers. We ask that potential applicants who have experienced bereavement wait for two years prior to applying.

To talk about becoming a bereavement volunteer at OLH&CS please contact: Ann D’Arcy, Bereavement Co-ordinator directly on 01-4068794 or email

To find out more about the types of Bereavement Services Support we provide at OLH&CS, click here

We are there to help someone while they need us” – read more below about Enda’s experience of being a Bereavement Services Volunteer

In 2016, Enda saw that Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services was looking for people to join its volunteer bereavement service. Some years previously her Mam, Margaret, had been a patient and the family had a very positive experience of the care shown to her and to the whole family.

“I remembered how valuable I had found bereavement support after my mother’s death. When I finished up as a client of the service, I thought what a wonderful way it was to give back to the Hospice.”

Having recently taken early retirement, Enda had been considering doing voluntary work when she saw the ad so she applied to join the Bereavement Support team.

“This work really means a lot to me, and I get tremendous fulfilment from it. The training was fantastic and covered a lot of ground. Of course, it brought up personal experiences but we were really well supported by our trainers and volunteer colleagues. We learned a lot about caring for ourselves and our mentors, long-time volunteers, gave great reassurance and advice.

“It is quite a commitment with rigorous training. Once you’ve completed 100 hours of weekend training sessions, you commit to the service for at least two years. Having completed all the training, checks and clearances; I saw my first client in July 2017 and it has become such an important part of my life.”

Enda explains the most important part for clients is that they feel free to talk about their experience of grief.

“I focus on creating a safe space where they are comfortable talking. They can talk to me about things they may find too difficult to talk about with friends or family and there is no judgement. I am there with them actively listening. Sometimes people might want to sit in silence and that is fine too. People can respond to bereavement in different ways. Clients know during our time together they can talk freely and not worry about upsetting others.”

Describing the purpose of bereavement support and counselling, Enda says it is to reach a point where the client is able to cope with their situation.

“I find it really satisfying to help a client find ways of coping better. When I first meet someone, they may say they can’t imagine ever adapting to life without their loved one, in time, when I hear them say they are feeling and managing better, it is very rewarding. And, there’s no set timeframe for this. We are there to help someone while they need us.”

The service runs weekly on Mondays, with volunteers meeting clients and taking part in a debrief meeting with Ann D’Arcy the Bereavement co-ordinator.

“On a typical Monday I might spend three or four hours volunteering, between my clients and a follow- up debrief, which is time for me to talk about any concerns and to seek advice. Of course, the team in the Hospice will help if I feel a client would benefit from professional assistance.”

Self-care is a very important part of the programme, and volunteers are encouraged to focus on it.

“I understand how important it is that I am able to leave this work behind and step back in to my own world. I might take time to enjoy the walk home along the canal or to listen to my favourite music as I drive. If I decide to watch TV that evening I will stick to light-hearted shows and comedies.”

As well as bereavement support sessions, the Hospice hosts an annual children’s’ bereavement weekend.

“This is a fantastic way to help children understand that they are not alone in their experience of grief. It is such a special weekend, full of activities, listening, talking and sharing ways that children can learn to live with their loss and celebrate the memory of their loved ones. It’s also a chance to meet with and provide support for parents and families.”

Enda explains that the volunteer team is well-supported by the Hospice staff at all times.

“As well as our de-briefing sessions, we have group supervision every two months, which is a time to check in and ensure we are coping well. We also meet monthly to read articles related to our work. These sessions are all so useful and provide lots of opportunities to ask for help or discuss any worries,” she says.