For family members who have had someone die due to a workplace tragedy there tends to be a strong sense of need to become that person’s voice. This may appear as a desire to find answers, to learn every detail of what happened and to be as involved as possible throughout the legal process. It may be sharing their story in the hope that others will not have to go through the same devastating experience. For me there has been a need to do right by my husband Rob, from deciding what he would have wanted at his funeral service and wake, to being his advocate for the investigation report about things that I felt were subjective and of course, in the way that I have raised our daughters.

The girls have very few memories of their father as they were only three and five years old when he died. They know him through the stories they have been told and I do believe they feel that they know him. Cameron proudly wears his punk t-shirts from when he was a teenager, uses the same clippers to trim her hair short (although not a mohawk like he had) and has a similar eclectic taste in music. Portia knows she is like him in her quiet reflective ways, her love of reading and her beautiful blue eyes.

A summer road trip to Manitoulin Island was a chance to revisit some memories and create new ones.

Threads of Life family forums are a place where stories of our loved ones, and our own experiences with work-related injury and illness, are welcome and encouraged. Read more or register for one of our forums this fall.

I have done my best to keep Rob in the conversation. I like traditions and have recreated new ones to continue to include him. Every fall we go to the Royal Winter Fair. It is around the time of his birthday and he had always loved to attend. Initially the girls didn’t know that was why we went but I did. It has always been my hope that he knows too.

17 years ago when I was expecting our first daughter, Rob and I went to a family reunion on Manitoulin Island. This summer we included the same place as part of our summer road trip. I can’t revisit those memories with Rob but I can with the girls and now we three have made new ones together. We have already decided it will be a new tradition to return every 17 years.

Without question we need to talk about our loved ones. Their physical body is gone however our relationship with them continues and so does our love for them. Often when I talk to a new family they are pleased yet surprised that I want to hear their stories and learn about their family member, not just the tragedy that brought them to Threads of Life. I can tell when someone has been discouraged to even say their loved one’s name. To me that is not moving on or forward or whatever it is that people expect from us. To me it is dishonouring our connection and our ongoing love. It is denying the continued bonds that we need. I can’t imagine being discouraged to talk about Rob and share stories about him. I have been fortunate. I want families to know that at Threads of Life you can share your stories. We will always be here to listen and be a safe place to say their name.

Threads of Life family forums are a place where stories of our loved ones, and our own experiences with work-related injury and illness, are welcome and encouraged. Read more or register for one of our forums this fall.

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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