The Day of Mourning is observed annually on April 28 to remember and honour those who have died, been injured or suffered illness in the workplace. In recognition of the Day of Mourning, we are sharing stories from some of the families affected by workplace tragedy. Their powerful accounts reveal profound loss, personal strength and the value of support. In particular, they demonstrate the critical importance of prevention.
My story begins on July 13, 2009 with my mom picking me up from summer camp. Just like any other day, my brother and I would ask the same questions, “What is for dinner?” and “When will Daddy be home?”. Unfortunately for us, one of those questions would never be answered.
Shortly after 6 p.m., a loud knock was heard at the door. My Mom opened the door to a police officer. To this day I will never forget the feeling of what seemed like my heart dropping in my chest. Although I was 11 years old, the words “he was killed in an accident” had to be the most horrific sentence I would forever hear.
My younger brother and I would spend the next few weeks trying to cope with the fact that our hero would never be returning home, and our family would never be complete again.
My father always loved what he did. Construction and paving were his passions. It was quite difficult to comprehend that doing something he loved was the reason he would never be able to do it again. My father was crushed by a dump truck while helping his coworkers on the job.
Even now, the workplace fatality is a hard pill to swallow. I realize how his death could have been prevented if the company had followed simple safety precautions. If the truck had a backup camera, if they had the radio off, if everyone had their safety equipment on, maybe my Dad would still be here.
For a few years that was all I could think about: ‘what if’? What if he stayed home that day? What if the driver paid attention? Would he still be with me today? I finally came to the realization that I can play the ‘what if’ game all I want, but that was not going to bring him back and I would never be able to move on.
The most special thing about my Dad was he never let something set him back; he lived every day like it was his last. He inspired me and continues to inspire me to reach for any goals I set my mind to. He would have never wanted me to put my life on hold only to sit around and wonder ‘what if’. So, from that day I buried the game of ‘what if’ and began a new one: ‘what would?’ When I find myself in situations where I need my Dad, I ask myself “What would he have done?” or “What would he have said?” This brings me a sense of security and warmth knowing that I can still follow in his footsteps without him physically being here anymore.
My father would constantly embarrass me when I was younger, telling strangers how I am such a tough cookie and that one day I will be doing great things. Today I reflect on those words and have made them my ultimate goals in life – to do great things and be a tough cookie while doing it.
The past nine years without him have been difficult. Usually the big events in life are easier to get through with all my family and friends supporting me; it is in the smaller moments where I miss him most. But I know he and his contagious smile are looking down on my mom, my brother and I every day.
I will forever strive to be half the person he was and continue to do great things in his honour.
In recognition of the Day of Mourning, please join us in lighting a digital candle to remember the workers we have lost and the families, friends and colleagues whose lives have been forever changed. www.pshsa.ca/lightacandle