two pairs of hands clasped across a tableI never imagined I would have my world turned upside down like this. How am I supposed to get through this? No one truly understands what is happening here. I need to talk with someone who actually gets it.

When your life has been turned upside down by a workplace injury, illness, or fatality, it can often feel like no one truly understands where you’re at or what you’re facing. That’s where a Volunteer Family Guide can be of most benefit. They’ve experienced a similar loss — and they have also experienced the realities that come with a workplace tragedy: coping with grief, government investigations and inquests, and how to move forward.

Volunteer family guides commit their time to help others living with the consequences of a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease because they’ve experienced a workplace tragedy and want to provide support to others who are in their shoes. People who have endured and overcome adversity can offer support, encouragement, and hope to others facing similar situations. It is an opportunity for a genuine connection with someone who’s walked a similar path. 

What we do

Threads of Life provides families with an opportunity to engage with a volunteer for one-on-one peer support. Each volunteer will be able to draw on their own “life story” to help others through their healing journey.

What to expect

Once Threads of Life receives your request for a Volunteer Family Guide, we do our best to match you with a volunteer with a similar experience. For example, an injured worker would be matched with another injured worker, a mom with a mom, a caregiver with a caregiver. The volunteer will then reach out to you directly by phone or email to find a time to meet. Once you’re connected, you will decide together when to meet and how often. How long the connection lasts is up to the two of you to decide.

A peer relationship is based on honesty, integrity, trust, and confidentiality. The goal is to offer a safe environment to cope with what’s happened. Establishing this connection allows you to grow your network of support and engage with someone who can understand the uncertainty of what is happening and changing in your life. This type of connection can help you to move forward as you further develop healthy coping strategies. 

In Our Words: Adrienne and Marsha

In the end, the power of such a supportive connection is really best explained by a family member connected with a Volunteer Family Guide. Adrienne asked to be connected with a Volunteer Family Guide following the death of her spouse on September 8, 2020 while working for a recycling company as a truck operator. On this day the truck rolled over and crashed. Unfortunately Greg did not survive. He was 47 years young. Adrienne was paired with Volunteer Family Guide Marsha, whose spouse Lindsay was working as a pelleter at a feedmill when a piece of machinery malfunctioned and he was struck by a metal rod. Lindsay died February 5, 2013. He was 68. 

What does this connection mean to you?

Adrienne: “I found it very helpful, and oddly comforting to know that there are others who understand how you feel about how your loved one became ill, injured or — as in my case — passed away. We are part of a club nobody wants to belong to!”

Marsha: “I am here and willing to be a support for other women whose husbands die at work. Our circumstances may not be the same, BUT the end result is— our man didn’t come home from work that day! I can relate to that and walk alongside my family member. I don’t have all the answers.”

What has this relationship done for you?

Adrienne: “Marsha has helped me through the one-year anniversary of the loss of my husband. In our particular pairing, I have found another friend who understands the shock and pain of what sometimes seems to be an unbearable loss. I truly think this is a relationship that works together to help each other and I am truly thankful for it!”

Marsha: “We share a common thread. It’s our new reality but that thread sews/binds us together in a way we would never have known otherwise — whether we are around the corner or across the country. Would we have wanted to meet under different circumstances? Absolutely! But sharing, listening, mentoring, laughing, crying together, saying things we feel we can’t share with others; just knowing that someone really does understand our pain and loss like no one else can — these threads are our common bond.

We are now part of a family, but not in the usual way. Each new family member needs someone who understands some of what they are going through. Yes, we each have friends and family who have lost someone through illness or injury, but they still don’t have the depth of understanding that we have. Each family member has their story and needs to know that the volunteer they are speaking to gets them.”

Think you may like to connect with a Volunteer Family Guide? Let us know.

Karen Lapierre Pitts
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