LETTERS: A mother remembers the loss of a son to workplace fatality

To remember is to honour our loved ones and to keep their memories alive

To the Expositor:

re: The National Day of Mourning

The observance began in 1984 when Sudbury unions adopted the day as one to publicly acknowledge workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths, and the Canadian Labor Congress officially declared the day of remembrance. The date of April 28 was chosen to reflect the anniversary of the day Ontario passed the Workers Compensation Act in 1914. The day became a national event in 1991. In the years since, more than 100 countries have adopted the observance known as Workers Memorial Day.

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Yes, we may observe this day and remember but only the ones affected by workplace tragedies, be it a fatality, life altering injury or occupational disease, understand and know the true meaning and the significance of remembering and taking a minute of silence to remember all those living this forever journey.

I lost my son Brent Wade to a workplace fatality on Tuesday, November 9, 1999. His death was sudden, unexpected and completely out of sync. We, the parents, are to go before our children. The policeman, who finally broke the silence in the room, had a very hard time giving me this earth shattering news. Once hearing it I broke into such deep sobbing, yelling in disbelief that he was wrong, it could not be possible. Brent had been so excited about coming home in a few days to introduce us to his new girlfriend who he was planning a future with. In that one moment of time my life and that of my daughters was forever changed. It was the most heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching pain I have ever experienced.

His dreams and aspirations, his life was cut far too short. His future was so much part of our future. That day was the blackest day of our life.

For months I felt dead inside, so much of me had died with him. My sleep, my memory and my ability to stay focused were affected. My actions were robotic. I was constantly questioning the purpose of life and why? It has taken a number of years to make a new norm, a life without him. Every day there are reminders of his loss, every family function, every special occasion, the grandchildren he would have loved so much and son in laws that he never meant. His smiles, his humor, his zest for life are all memories now.

My loss was by a workplace fatality but there are thousands living everyday affected by a workplace life altering injury or occupational disease. This carries with it so many different ramifications. We, as outsiders looking in, may not see how their lives have changed, nor see the rippling affects of their tragedy. Not always is their injuries or illness obvious to us. We cannot see pain. Pain can affect sleep patterns and the ability to carry out the activities of daily living

In many cases there is the inability to continue in the workforce causing many negative rippling affects, impacting the family’s financial and social status. Often the amount of disability available is insufficient to compensate for the working income lost which can affect their self–confidence, feelings of self-worth and lead to depression. These people have many challenges facing them on an everyday basis. Every facet of their life is affected. 

It is the working force that built our country and they are our future. I believe the strength of our country is determined and dependent upon the health and well being of our workers. The more awareness and emphasis on Health and Safety within the workplace by employers and employees, the more progressive and productive we as a country will be.

To remember is to honour our loved ones and to keep their memories alive. Take time to remember loved ones, friends and co-workers.

Joanne Wade

member of The Threads of Life since it began in 2003

A national, charitable organization that supports families across Canada that have been impacted and are living with the affects of a workplace tragedy.

Sheguiandah

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