BY SHIRLEY HICKMAN
The organization I work for and helped to found, Threads of Life, supports people across Canada who’ve had a first-hand encounter with a work-related tragedy.
I’ve had that experience myself, as my son Tim was killed in an explosion at the arena where he was working, just days before his 21st birthday. At the time, I started Threads of Life - the Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support, there was no support group connected to workplace tragedy, no hotline phone number, no voice for the families. We felt very alone.
When a workplace tragedy happens – whether it’s a death, a serious injury or a diagnosis of disease – the family is thrown into a whole new world that can include investigations, claims, and court cases, all while trying to cope with their grief and pain. Their normal life is gone forever. If that is your experience, you don’t need to feel alone.
Threads of Life is a network of people who have also experienced a workplace tragedy, and are healing together. Through our programs, we can connect individuals with a trained volunteer for peer support – a widow can talk with a widow; an injured worker with an injured worker, a sibling with a sibling. We offer annual conferences where families can gather to attend workshops, learn healthy coping skills and share their journey. And we provide opportunities to help prevent future tragedies, by educating workplaces through speakers who courageously share their stories of tragedy, through annual awareness walks called Steps for Life, and more.
All of us who have coped with an occupational fatality, or life altering injury or disease, are passionate about prevention.
That’s why we are pleased to support a new advertising campaign being launched this fall by the four workplace compensation organizations in Atlantic Canada which emphasizes the impact that a work-related fatality, serious injury or illness has on families.
Threads of Life families were asked to provide early input on the new ad campaign, and the message resonated with all of them. They saw themselves in the stories depicted.
The ads capture the ripple effects of a workplace tragedy – those little family moments you never realize are important until they’re gone. These tragedies at work rock the lives of parents, children, siblings, spouses, the extended family, co-workers, and the community and beyond.
One is one too many – one fatality, one serious injury, one occupational disease. Families want their loved one to be remembered as the individual he or she was; they want their experience and their altered life to be seen and understood.
But most of all, families want to stop this grief, pain and upheaval from happening to one more person.
Threads of Life shares with the Atlantic WCBs and all of their partners the vision of a world in which all workers come home safe and healthy.
Until we achieve that vision, Threads of Life exists to provide a safe landing place for those who are hurting from the death or injury of a loved one.
Please reach out to us and let us walk with you on your journey of healing. You’re not alone.
- Shirley Hickman, executive director, Threads of Life; www.threadsoflife.ca; 888-567-9490