Family forums are annual events hosted to bring those most deeply affected by workplace tragedy together – to connect, share, learn, and ultimately heal from the devastating blow that has rocked their family. With sessions and workshops, shared meals and casual conversations, ceremony and celebration, it’s a full and busy weekend.

Tears and laughter.
Personal sharing and quiet contemplation.
Deep sadness and rightful anger.
Emotional and physical pain.
And so much love.

The love within and between families is obvious. For our family members whose lives were taken far too soon – the love is palpable. The love for our family members attending with us is clear. The love that quickly develops between our family members is visible on the first evening and apparent by the departing hugs and exchanges of contact information over lunch on Sunday.

What’s perhaps not as evident is the growing love and compassion for ourselves. It’s a transformation that we have the honour of witnessing in each other over time. But the truth is, that we can see the shift clearly over course of a family forum weekend, new speaker and volunteer family guide training, and in connection with a local community of support through Steps for Life. We see such growth and strength and self-love develop over time.

We learn healthy coping skills and gain understanding about our experience from the sessions. When combined with the connection and sharing that happens between family members, what we have is the opportunity for connection that is truly transformative.

At a Central Family Forum a few years ago, Dianne Mino bravely stood up at the mic to share her process and reflections around the mask she had created in the art therapy session earlier that day. Thank you to Tracey for sharing the video, and deep thanks to Dianne for sharing your experience with us. It’s our honour to walk with you.

Sarah Wheelan