(This article was first published in Threads newsletter, Summer 2018)

Making a phone call and asking about available services – that sounds easy, right? However when it is a family’s first contact with Threads of Life it may not feel so simple to make that call. It is hard to know what to expect and for many people it is difficult to ask for help no matter the circumstances.

They know that they will probably be asked about their own experience and for some sharing your story, especially to someone you have never met, may feel a little frightening or even overwhelming. Many families may be in a place where they find it challenging to reach out to others at all. In the early part of the grief journey, people often pull back and isolate themselves to protect from further pain. It is an entirely natural response to the very unexpected and unwelcome world they have been thrown into.

With each call or email, I am again devastated by why yet another family needs to connect with us. Devastated to learn of yet another diagnosis of disease, life-altering injury or fatality due to going to work. My heart goes out to each family as their lives have been turned upside down and they have to figure out how to navigate life again. At the same time I am grateful that they have connected, that they have found us. It is always my hope that Threads of Life will be able to provide them with some comfort, a sense of community and be that safe place for them to land.

I can hear the nervousness in their voices over the phone. The voice is often quiet and hesitant to say why they are calling. As we talk the conversation often goes one of two ways although I always hope for a combination of both. Either they listen while I explain our services and only ask a few questions of me. Or I listen as they share their story. I take my cues from them and do my best to determine what they need as each call is different. The one thing I do hope for is to hear a change in their voice by the end of the call. There may still be emotion in their voice however hopefully there is also a sound of someone who has found some answers and somewhere they can trust.

We know that families need to make the decision to contact us when they are ready, and make that first connection. Somehow though, they first need to find out about Threads of Life to make that choice. This once again emphasizes just how important the relationships with all of our partners, supporters, volunteers and family members are. So often you are the ones letting new families know about Threads of Life. You are the ones explaining our programs and more so the essence of what this organization is about. You are the voices encouraging new families to call and see if they will find some help and support with us. I cannot describe how significant it is that you create that awareness and share with new families. From all of us at Threads of Life, thank you and please continue being our ambassadors!

How you can help a new family

So often, people who’ve experienced a work-related tragedy learn about Threads of Life by word of mouth. If you know someone who might benefit from Threads of Life’s programs, feel free to tell them about your experience. You could give them our web site address, www.threadsoflife.ca, or ask our office for a brochure you could leave with them. But, you may not even know who among your circle has been affected by a workplace tragedy. Share our posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – you may never know who will find the courage to reach out for help as a result!

Kate Kennington

Kate Kennington

Kate Kennington is the Family Support Manager for Threads of Life. With a background in volunteer management and event planning, Kate oversees the peer support program of Volunteer Family Guides and is a family member herself.
Kate Kennington
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