2015-07-Life-of-Pix-friendsMaybe the word “friend” is one we throw around a bit too loosely these days. We designate “BFF”s (best friend forever); we have “frenemies”; we “friend” and “unfriend” people on Facebook. But for all that, we know what it means to have, and to be, a real friend. The dictionary definition, “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection” seems like a bit of an understatement. How could you truly explain that bond between friends – the one that is often beyond words?

July 30 is International Day of Friendship. It’s designated by the United Nations to recognize friendship between individuals, communities and nations. One-on-one friendships are the building blocks of understanding and compassion.

Threads of Life is built on individual friendships as well, and one of the most important of those is the relationship between a family member and a Volunteer Family Guide. When someone affected by workplace tragedy first comes to Threads of Life, they have the chance to be matched with a VFG – generally someone whose experience parallels their own. VFGs are trained listeners.  They are the someone who “gets it” when other friends just don’t understand what the injured worker, or the grieving family member is going through. And very often, that relationship blossoms into a true friendship . You can tell when you see a family member and their volunteer family guide meet up at a family forum or other event – the hugs and smiles speak to a bond that goes way beyond words. Sometimes the friendships are only for a time and space, but there’s no denying the power of that connection.

(If you’ve been affected by workplace tragedy and would like the chance to connect with a Volunteer Family Guide, please contact us: [email protected].)

A while back, we asked some of our Threads of Life volunteers to tell us what their Volunteer Family Guide meant to them. Here are a couple of responses:

My Volunteer Family Guide was an integral part in supporting me through my husband’s inquest. Her insight provided me with an outline of what would occur during an inquest, and most importantly, how my voice could be heard.  Her wisdom, guidance and warm heart offered clarity in a confusing legal system made up of paper pushing and jargon.  I was able to get through this with her unwavering support. Thank you Elizabeth!

-Fran deFillippis

When I was teamed up with my VFG, I didn’t even know he was a Volunteer Family Guide. I was new to Threads of Life and knew very little about the organization or the programs it provides. I received a letter from the man I later learned was my VFG and he told me all about his son. It happened that our sons were both named Greg, they were both young men, both were engaged and both had a wonderful love of life. We corresponded for three years before meeting in person and when we did meet, I felt that I was hooking up with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. We shared our stories and memories of our sons, realizing that we had so, so much in common. Gil helped me move forward and for that, I am eternally grateful.

-Geraldine Wheeler

Tell us what your Volunteer Family Guide’s friendship has meant to you!

Susan Haldane