Name: Doris Edgar of Davidsonville.Volunteer...

Volunteer spotlight

January 24, 1993

Name: Doris Edgar of Davidsonville.

Volunteer Work/Interests: Mrs. Edgar says that when her children were growing up she would "stretch her involvement" in a variety of church and community activities. Now that her four children are grown, she concentrates on one activity during her spare time -- as a volunteer bereavement counselor for the Hospice of the Anne Arundel Medical Center. Mrs. Edgar has been involved with the center's hospice program since 1986, about a year after her mother died of cancer in Florida.

She made a promise then, she said, to help people in similar circumstances if she could.

I knew how difficult it had been for my family."

She learned about the hospice program from a friend.

Before 1990, Mrs. Edgar was involved in patient care and support at the hospice. But when she got the chance to be trained in bereavement support, she took it.

Although a terminal illness "is a terrible thing, there is quite a network already in place to help people and help take care of their needs," she explains.

"Once a person dies, though, there is sometimes not quite the same organized support system for the person most directly affected by the death of a loved one.

thought the bereavement aspect was very, very important, especially if you don't have someone. How lonely and awful it is."

Mrs. Edgar recently worked with one woman in her 70s, who after her husband died, had no family or friends to offer support.

Since that time, Mrs. Edgar and her family have invited the woman to visit them during holidays and for dinners. She even has helped the woman get involved in volunteer work.

Normally, bereavement support volunteers keep track of people they are assigned to for about a year, talking with them on average once or twice a month. But Mrs. Edgar has made exceptions if she feels someone needs her help longer and more frequently.

She says that "sometimes people think they are bothering you and won't call or try to keep in touch."

When that happens, she calls people to find out if they need help, then does what she can to help.

Just by picking up the phone, she says she makes herself available as a "sounding board" to people who otherwise might not have anyone or to people who might feel more comfortable talking about matters outside of family circles.

Aside from the people she deals with through the hospice center, Mrs. Edgar sometimes free-lances.

Last week, Mrs. Edgar's daughter referred someone to her who was having a difficult time coping with the suicide of a friend. Mrs. Edgar was more then willing to talk to the person.

For relaxation, Mrs. Edgar and her husband enjoy boating as well as spending time with her family, which she says is very close.

Volunteer's Comment: Mrs. Edgar says she feels good about her hospice work -- what it has done for her as an individual -- and plans to stay with it.

makes you stop and see things you take for granted. It's helped me as a person. It gives you an inner strength. "I'm getting something out.

If you go into somebody's home and give them a smile and a hug and they feel better, you leave feeling better. "It's been a very, very good experience.

"Some people might think this is very hard, but I deal with it in my own way, that's my personality".

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