TMC Hospice is dedicated to providing quality, compassionate end-of-life care to those who need it. In order to provide that care, they rely on clinicians, social workers, chaplains, and of course, volunteers.
Right now, TMC Hospice is looking for volunteers in bereavement support. While it may sound like a role that surrounds you with grief and depression, take it from volunteer Lewis Jones – the position is incredibly fulfilling on many levels.
Jones has been a hospice volunteer for the past two years. He’s retired now, after spending seven years in the military followed by 25 years working for the federal government. He saw the opportunity as a chance to volunteer more often, and knew he was emotionally up for the challenge. “Both of my parents passed away several years ago, so I’m pretty removed from any personal grief. I still have the experience, however, so I know what these people are going through. I can feel for them, but I don’t get depressed myself.”
The duties of bereavement hospice volunteers include everything from helping with clerical activities to writing sympathy cards to making emotionally supportive phone calls to grieving families. TMC Hospice follows families for 13 months after they have lost a loved one. Volunteers call these families every few months, and provide counseling if needed. There are 700 families like this who TMC Hospice is currently in touch with. “These families are so thankful we keep up with them. They tell us how touched they are to know we are still thinking about them, and that we are genuinely concerned about their well-being,” says Lewis.
In the two years he’s volunteered, he’s had some experiences that will stay with him, including a conversation he had with a man during one of these follow-up phone calls. “He walked me through the entire journey from his loved one’s diagnosis all the way to when they took their last breath. It’s something I’ll never forget. It was very therapeutic for him, and I’m glad I was able to share in his grief.”
Ideal candidates have a counseling, social work or similar background, but that is not necessary. Volunteers will complete an orientation and training session on working with grief and loss.
“Most of our best volunteer referrals are from people who had a family member go through hospice, and they want to give back,” says Krista Durocher, TMC Hospice Volunteer Coordinator. She’d especially love to have psychiatrists, psychologists, school counselors, and even school teachers who are either still in the workforce, or are retired.
Jones’ advice for someone who may be considering becoming a volunteer, but is not quite convinced the work is for them? “Apply. Go through the training, and perhaps start out in administration. You may find that you want to eventually work with families. It’s all about finding a good fit for you,” he says. “Either way, being an extension of all of the amazing hospice employees is a reward in itself.”
To learn more about becoming a hospice volunteer, please call (520) 324-2433, or send an email to Krista.Durocher@tmcaz.com.