On Friday, March 14, 2014, the most terrible thing happened to my beautiful family. My 21-yearold son Jordan Gahan died in a workplace accident in Firebag, Alberta. He left behind three brothers, mom and dad, grandparents, family, and friends. Most of these people lived in Fredericton, NB, over 3,000 kilometres away.
So many things have changed this year – how we work, care for our children, go to school, and even how we shop. Most aspects of our lives have changed, both personally and professionally. But one thing that has not changed – is the need for Threads of Life to continue to provide support programs for families who have been impacted by a workplace tragedy.
We are continuing to deliver our much needed programs, they are just being delivered differently.
If you’re a Threads of Life volunteer, you will be familiar with our ongoing request that you track the time you spend on volunteer activities. You can probably attest to the fact that we ask this repeatedly of all our volunteers. The reason we do this is
There are many ways to think about and understand the concept of “distance.” It can speak to measurable things like space and time, but also more abstract concepts such as emotion.
A poem by Tammy Lundgren-Costa
Since early April, when the full realization of the impact of COVID-19 began to take hold, I’ve received many requests from associations representing the non-profit sector and volunteer administrators to complete surveys. They want to learn how the pandemic has affected Threads of Life’s ability to engage volunteers and deliver services. I’ve completed a few, but they can be repetitive, sometimes overly long, and not always user friendly.
This year’s Family Forums take place online; a blend of the new and the familiar. Our virtual Family Forum will begin as always with a Reflections Ceremony – a chance for each participant to honour their experience of workplace tragedy. Learning sessions will include Diving into Grief and Loss, Supporting Mental Wellness Through Grief and Trauma, and Giving Gratitude and Finding Your Hope in Loss, plus a closing session. Register for free online, and participate via Zoom. No matter where you are in Canada, we’ve tried to provide sessions that will fit your needs and schedule.
As the limitations of the pandemic continued through the spring and summer, we decided that in-person Family Forums just didn’t make sense. We couldn’t risk having people travel and meet together in person, even with precautions in place. Instead, we’re doing our very best to move the Forums online and still offer the things that our Family Forums always do – chances to learn new coping skills, share experiences, honour our lives as injured or ill workers and our loved ones, and be there for each other.
I awoke in such a fright! I rose straight upright in bed that morning and jumped up to look out the window. Was I too late? Too late for what? I wasn’t certain what it was I was fearing? But I watched my mom pull out of the driveway with my brother Greg next to her. I thought to myself – he was going to work again today, despite the torrential rains that had been falling for two days now.
Alex Tuff is a regular 25-year old; he loves his dog and being outdoors. However, seven years ago he had a life-changing experience. His brother, Kristopher, was killed in a workplace tragedy and it changed Alex’s future.
Threads of Life’s Volunteer Family Guides provide peer support to others who are coping with the effects of workplace tragedy. Every guide goes through intensive training for their volunteer role. They learn how to draw on their own life story to help another along their journey of healing. And they learn the importance of self-care – both for themselves as volunteers, and for the families they’re supporting. Here, our VFGs offer a grab bag of self-care ideas from their own tool kits:
Self-care is a bit of a buzz word these days. Unfortunately, lots of people are ready to dismiss it, at the very time we all need it most. If you’ve been affected by a work-related tragedy and are coping with illness, injury or grief; if you face challenges to your mental health; or if you’re simply trying to keep things balanced while you navigate the pandemic and all of life’s other currents, you need a plan for your own self-care.