Virginia lost her husband Paul in a tragic workplace accident but finds comfort in supporting others through Threads of Life.
Paul and Virginia were basically newlyweds. They’d been married in August and now it was January. Paul was still Virginia’s “knight in shining armour.”
“Life couldn’t have been any better for us,” she says. “For the first time in my life I truly felt loved, genuinely happy, safe, and looking forward to spending the rest of my life with my husband.” But on January 6, 2015, her happiness shattered. Paul didn’t come home from work that day. Early the next morning, two police officers knocked on her door to tell her that he had been killed at work. Paul drove a sand truck, maintaining the roads in their northwestern Ontario region. In cold weather, the sand hopper on the truck had been jamming. As a temporary solution, the drivers used a shovel to get the sand moving. That day, working alone, Paul became caught in the auger. There was no safety cover on the back of the hopper to protect him from moving parts. It was hours before anyone went to check on him.
Recognizing the Day of Mourning
On a calendar filled with anniversary dates and memories, Virginia now marks the National Day of Mourning on April 28 as a day with special meaning. The Day of Mourning is set aside to honour and remember those who have been killed or injured in the workplace.
For those affected by workplace tragedy, like Virginia, truly every day is a day of mourning. Their lives are forever changed by their loss — and while the grief may change over time, they’re marked by what happened in that one brief moment at work. But on the Day of Mourning, there’s some comfort in knowing that others join with them to recognize that loss and pledge their commitment to health and safety.
Supporting one another
Virginia also finds comfort through her involvement in Threads of Life — the Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support. Threads of Life offers peer support for people affected by work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Virginia met others who were coping with loss, and she felt less alone.
She became a Threads of Life volunteer, training to support others like her after tragedy and to become a public speaker.
“Paul was a caring, humble, and passionate man, who had a love for his family, friends, and me,” says Virginia. “His interest was driving his semi truck, boating, fishing, and loving his dog Baloo. He liked to live simply. It didn’t take much to make him happy, just as long as he was with the people and things that he loved.”
Sharing their story is important to Virginia. “This is how I honour Paul and keep his memory alive, by sharing my story,” she says. “If I help even just one family, then Paul’s death won’t be for nothing.”