They come in Friday evening looking nervous, hesitant, maybe even a bit hostile. And for good reason: these are family members whose child, spouse, parent or sibling has been killed on the job, permanently injured, or diagnosed with an occupational disease. They are arriving for the first time at a Threads of Life Family Forum, where they’ve been told they’ll learn to cope with their grief. By the time Sunday afternoon rolls around, there are hugs, tears, and maybe some laughter. They leave with new friends, reassured they are not alone in their struggles with grief and healing.

Threads of Life family forums are held annually in four locations across Canada. They bring together families and offer a chance to reflect, learn more about grieving, and share experiences with others.

The forums start Friday evening with a reflections ceremony which honours the loved ones and experiences of all those attending.  Saturday and Sunday there are a variety of sessions which help people to learn coping skills and share their story. Here are a few examples from recent family forums:

  • Families Living with a Life-altering Injury or Occupational Disease
  • The Art of Practicing Gratitude
  • Widows Moving Forward & Society’s Expectations
  • Art Therapy
  • Traumatic Grief
  • Embracing Change
  • Spirituality & Loss

“Shortly after I arrived at [the family forum],” one family member reported, “I felt like it was somewhere I really needed to be.  The Friday night reflections ceremony was very emotional, but it set the precedent and the meaning of why we were all there. The sessions were open discussion and very meaningful to me.  It truly made me realize you are never alone and that you do not have to walk this dark path alone.”

Family Forums are a chance to share with others who have had a similar experience of workplace tragedy, and to learn ways to cope with grief. Through fundraising, Threads of Life covers accommodation and some travel expenses for family members attending. For more information, visit the “Upcoming Family Forums” section of our web site.


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Susan Haldane