Today’s Volunteer Spotlight features Karin McCrary. She serves as a Grief Ministry Coach for Congregational Care.

How did you get involved in the Grief Ministry?

My daughter passed away and we were in church one Sunday about three or four years ago and heard about the Grief Ministry. My husband volunteered first and he told me I would love it – and that’s how I got on board.

What do you do in the Grief Ministry?

We have our Grief Ministry classes on Thursday nights and I serve as a Grief Ministry Coach. We have about 80 people at a session. Pastors Karla Woodward and Karen Lampe lead the group in a lesson and then we break out in small groups based on losses. The group that I have is “child or traumatic loss.” It deals with people who have lost children unexpectedly or lost loved ones to suicide. We spend 60 or 90 minutes speaking and sharing about where we are in our journey. That’s my primary role. I receive and respond to emails from members of the group, and spend time outside of the group if people want to get coffee together. It just depends on the needs of the group.

Do you feel that losing your daughter has helped you connect with others in the group?

Absolutely. I share all the time. It’s important for me because I want to give back and because I went through the horrible loss of my daughter and can find some good in that. What I have learned is people in our group will say all the time that this is the only place where they can talk about these issues because everyone there gets it.  It is something that none of us wanted to go through, but we are kind of a club. We get each other. It helps that I get those feelings and all the thoughts they are going through.

Do you feel  volunteering with this group has helped your own grief recovery?

I absolutely do. It’s funny because I went into this thinking that I was going to do this to help these people. I found that oftentimes, I gain more than I give. I had some fear going into it that I would have to relive going through what happened to my daughter, and I hoped I wouldn’t get too emotional.  I had some anticipation as to what that would do to my own grief journey.  I have found that this has been extremely healing for me even though that wasn’t my intent.

What are you favorite moments from volunteering with this group?

Some of the best moments happen while watching the group come together. What happens is somebody will come in and will be having a rough week. The group’s response will be to rally around that person.  We all have our moments. I still have my moments eight years later. It is a lifelong journey. To watch these people come together and support each other is amazing. I started doing coffees outside the group because they want to be together.

The next Grief Class is Thursday, July 25 at 6 pm in the East Building Room 300.