Two pairs of hands grasped across a tableOne of the most meaningful supports Threads of Life can offer people after a workplace injury, illness or death is the reassurance that they’re not alone. Often when a family reaches out to us they ask to talk to someone who can listen and understand what they are feeling. Thankfully, we have Volunteer Family Guides who use their experience to help others navigate the ripple effects of workplace tragedy and find ways to cope with the devastating impact on their lives.

On June 6th at 6:30pm ET, I will be hosting an information webinar for family members interested in learning more about how to become a Volunteer Family Guide. This includes any family member who is living with or supporting someone affected by a life-altering injury, occupational disease or death of a loved one, and who feel they are far enough along their own healing journey to be able to guide others.

If this sounds like something you’d like to consider, please call or email me ([email protected] or 888-567-9490 ext. 106) and I will ensure you receive the webinar information. 

If you’ve been supported by a Volunteer Family Guide yourself, then you know how crucial that support can be. The VFG role is intensely meaningful for the volunteers as well.

Joanne Wade has been a longtime friend of Threads of Life and volunteer, who through her own personal tragedy has helped many other families when the worst has happened. Joanne’s son Brent died when the dump truck he was driving was struck by a train at a level crossing. Brent was 22.

Joanne shared with us the reasons why she is a Volunteer Family Guide

  1. It is a healing connection for me as a grieving mother to be able to offer support to a new family member who may be stumbling in the dark. 
  2. When I remember back in those early days when my son died, I distinctly recall how alone I felt and the intense emotional pain. It was helpful for me being with people who understood, talking to someone who could relate. When I was ready I wanted to be there for someone else and try to help them get through those drowning times. 
  3. I remember people saying, “Time heals” and saying to myself, “Nothing can heal this emptiness and pain I feel” but I was wrong. The sharing and caring we give and receive, through connecting to each other, did help me find ways to cope with the grief and loss one step at a time.  
  4. I want to be able to do what I can do to prevent people from feeling alone and having to go through what I did. My support system included family and friends who were grieving also and under the circumstances they were great. What I learned through other parents who lost a child is there is value in talking with someone who has been on a similar journey.
  5. I want to be able to share with others that there is Hope. I can share what helped me but also support them to let them know it takes time and they are doing the best they can at the moment.
  6. It is healing for me to keep Brent’s memory alive and to know that I am trying to make his death, his story, my story, make a difference in a positive way. I never want Brent’s death to be for nothing. 
  7. I remember so very well the day I was told of my son’s death, so sudden, so unexpected, I lost so much of Life itself, so much purpose, thinking I was never going to feel joy or happiness again. It was the one-on-one companionship, the listening of each one’s stories and caring that eventually put life back into living for me. I realized how important a VFG is to the healing process and I wanted to give back to Threads of Life and to society (to all those suffering loss) in a meaningful and positive way.

Last year we had over 75 new families contact our organization for more information about programs and services. Many of those families specifically asked to talk to another person who has been through a similar situation. We are hoping to train a new group of volunteers this November.

If you have experienced a tragedy and would like the kind of support Joanne describes, please reach out to Threads of Life. And if you feel you could offer that support to another person, please join me on the webinar to learn more. You can reach me at [email protected] or 888-567-9490 ext. 106.


Karen Lapierre Pitts
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