The long and evolving tradition of palliative care has always had a strong volunteer dimension. The difficult nature of palliative care invites questions around why volunteers choose this particular line of contribution. To expand our knowledge of the elements that create meaning and capture the essence of volunteer experience, we asked volunteers to share the rewards and the challenges of their work and its personal meaning. Significant themes emerged around what volunteers considered the most valuable aspects of their experience. Volunteers identified freedom of choice and the ability to use their natural gifts as an important condition for satisfaction. In addition, they perceived emotional resilience and personal hardiness as important dimensions of their suitability for working in palliative care. Finally, volunteers felt that their approach must be one of a balanced perspective, with an understanding of life and death as part of the human condition.