(Posted on January 10, 2017)
When you’re on a difficult journey, having a companion beside you makes the path seem a little smoother. That’s the role of Threads of Life’s volunteer family guides. Hundreds of people have experienced the healing benefit of being able to talk with someone who has been down a similar road already, and who knows how to listen. Your Volunteer Family Guide may not tell you which way to go, but he or she will be there with you.
In a few weeks, another group of Volunteer Family Guides (VFGs) will complete their training and be ready to provide that kind of emotional support to others who have experienced a work-related fatality or occupational disease, or who are injured workers themselves. These new guides will join 47 VFGs who have already been volunteering – some for more than 10 years.
Have you considered becoming a Volunteer Family Guide? Two of our experienced guides shared why they continue to give their time for this program:
Marj Deyell: “We’ve been involved with Threads of Life since 2004 and have benefited so much from this organization. I’m not sure if we would have survived the tragedy of having our son die at work, without Threads of Life. Its members and staff have become a second family. I/we continue as a VFG because it’s payback time! Time to move forward and help others in a similar situation as we found ourselves in a few years ago.”
Tom Wilson: “Much of my life I have found myself being a coach, a supporter, a cheer leader – being part of situations where someone is working towards success in a sport or developing from an infant into an adult, or a colleague reaching a goal in the work place. The reward was seeing them achieve. As a VFG my task is to listen carefully to a person who is earlier on the process we call a grief journey. I listen first as a supporter who has a similar experience, then to help them find their way towards less pain and more hope. The reward is hearing them grow into a happier way of being.”
Experienced VFGs also offered some advice for those considering joining their ranks:
- The Threads of Life family is an incredible group of people and if we are able to help even one family by sharing their loss, then everything we have done to learn and grow has been worthwhile.
- It is a way of helping others but also a way of helping yourself along the journey of grief. It is healing.
- Go in with your heart and mind as open as can be. Listen as much as you can. That is more valuable than you realize.
- Although the thought of supporting a family is scary, remember the tools you receive will help you reassure the family that they have a listening and caring VFG. You are extending your hand to this bewildered family and walking with them down this familiar path.
- Take it one day at a time. Realize we can’t “fix” other people’s situations. Know that if you run into difficulties there is always someone you can call.
- Do it! Do it! – so very worthwhile.
Volunteer Family Guides are a crucial part of the healing that Threads of Life programs offer. If you’d like the support of a VFG, or would like to volunteer as a VFG, please contact Kate Kennington, firstname.lastname@example.org
Her background is in journalism, public relations and health and safety.