Volunteers' Week Blog: Lara

Lara shares her personal experience of grief and why she now volunteers as a Bereavement Counsellor with Cruse Scotland.

June 02, 2023

More than 230 compassionate, committed and experienced volunteers form the beating heart of Cruse Scotland and we want to celebrate and share the difference they make to bereaved children, young people and adults across the country.

This Volunteers' Week we're excited to shine a light on the various roles of our incredible volunteers and the difference they make each and every day - from their point of view.


My name is Lara and I have been a volunteer counsellor with Cruse Scotland for around a year and a half now. I support clients by providing and facilitating a safe, non-judgemental and empathetic space for clients to share how they are feeling since the loss they have experienced and explore the impact the loss is having on their wellbeing. Offering them a space to talk freely, show their emotions (each and every one is welcome and valid), and support them in identifying what they need.

In our society, I have found we can be quick to shy away from talking about death and the impact it has on us. We can be expected to just get on with life even when we’re heartbroken. It is of course an incredibly painful experience to lose someone we love, however, this is made even more difficult when we feel as though we can’t express our true feelings with those around us. There seems to be an unwritten rule that there’s an acceptable amount of time we can grieve someone before we must be ok again. I believe this way of thinking does more harm than good and that’s one of the reasons I applied to volunteer with Cruse. Grief is such a personal experience and there really is no ‘normal’ or ‘right’ way to go through it.

I began volunteering with Cruse Scotland during my training to become a counsellor. Cruse supported and encouraged me throughout my training which I will be eternally grateful for. I was, and continue to be, interested in working with grief due to my own complex experience with it. Throughout my life two of my loved ones have died – one when I was in my early teens and another when I was in my mid-twenties. I struggled with both losses in different ways, however, with each of them I felt I had to carry my grief on my own, that sharing how I was feeling with my family or friends would somehow burden them or worse, make them upset too. So, I carried on, trying my best to put a brave face on in front of others.

From the outside, I probably looked fine, like I was coping well. Afterall I was working and spending time with friends. Over time however, I began to experience increasing anxiety and became hyper-vigilant. Looking back, I was making decisions from a place of deep-rooted fear. Always assuming the worst would happen and preparing myself for it. I lived like this for a long time before eventually, I reached what felt like rock-bottom. I was just existing, not living. I couldn’t remember the last time I truly felt joy or hope. Life felt so incredibly heavy. This is when, thankfully, I sought out the help from a therapist near me.

After just a few sessions together, I noticed the weight I’d been carrying begin to lighten. I slowly began to rediscover the person I am, without the fear and anxiety that had become my everyday way of being. For the first time in years, I felt I could listen to my intuition and trust it again. The power of sharing how I was feeling with a compassionate, warm and impartial person was completely transformational. This experience inspired me to completely change my career and train as a counsellor.

Now I’m pleased to say I have completed my counsellor training and continue to volunteer with Cruse Scotland as I wholeheartedly believe in the work they do. I value being part of such a beautiful community of wise, compassionate and caring people.

Thank you to Lara, and of course to every single Cruse Scotland volunteer for your kindness, dedication and support to ensure no one need struggle with their grief alone. 

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Volunteers' Week Blog: Lara