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What’s is like to counsel people through grief?

GABBY SKELSEY volunteers with our Support After Suicide program, where she provides counselling to families who are bereaved by suicide. In this Q&A, she chats to fellow volunteer RYAN FONG about how she helps family members move forward in life.

Gabby, volunteer counsellor with Support After Suicide

Gabby Skelsey, volunteer counsellor for Jesuit Social Services’ Support After Suicide program.

What motivated you to volunteer with Support After Suicide?

The Jesuit principles have guided the way I live my life and I’m committed to give help to people in our society who need it most. Jesuit Social Services’ objective of aiding traumatised people perfectly aligns with my personal values.

As a counsellor for many years, I was attracted to volunteer for the Support After Suicide program because of the opportunity to offer free counselling services to people who are bereaved by suicide.

What’s been most memorable about volunteering with Support After Suicide?

My most memorable volunteering moment was the time I worked with a father and his son. I helped them undergo the grieving process following the suicide of another child in their family.

As a counsellor, I was moved as I witnessed how the father and son took the opportunity to connect over the loss of their beloved son and brother. Although their relationship was fractured in many ways, they were able to share their own perspectives and understand each other’s true feelings.

More importantly, I was able to encourage verbal dialogues within the family and support them to move forward from the sadness of the loss.

Sometimes, participants can even grow as a person through recognising that they have special strengths, such as skills and resilience.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking of volunteering with Jesuit Social Services?

Volunteering with Jesuit Social Services makes me feel part of a wider community – it connects me with the organisation and the support programs it offers.

Being able to offer volunteering services to people who have been traumatised in life is a real act of altruism and can really change their life prospects.

Volunteering also nourishes my love of learning. I definitely want to continue to be actively involved with Jesuit Social Services to learn even more and to cause positive social change.