Understanding the impact of Farm Accidents
As therapist’s we are trained to sit with another’s person’s pain, crises, upset or confusion. Our tool bag is full of the wonderful skills of listening, empathy, understanding, appropriate theory, patience and time. At times our bag also contains resonance as we relate to a person’s story due to our own background, our own life experiences both challenging and different.
As I sat in Tuam last Friday night at an Embrace meeting my bag felt quite empty. I listened to people talking about the death of a father, a partner, a brother a husband and children. The heartbreak and emotion sat right at the bottom of my heart and the tears sat close to the surface. A room full of hard working heartbroken people spoke each with their own individual story of loss and death. Sudden unexpected injury and death caused by a farm accident. All the people in the room were connected by human tragedy and I felt quite ill equipped to say anything that might offer any sense of comfort to these people. My skills seemed redundant as I was held in the shock of each story and the enormity of the grief
Reading this weeks farmers journal the statistics of farm hood deaths this year were laid bare. People ranged from young children to older adults. Both experienced farmers and innocent children all victims of terrible tragedies. Each year we are faced with so many tragedies on farms and until recently there has been little help available to the farming community. Confusion of the law succession rights, lack of time off have all added to the concept of complicated grief and trauma.
The Embrace group saw that the farming community needed help from their own farming community. They identified that people needed support from those that knew what they were talking about. Everybody who spoke last week had not sought the support of counselors or psychotherapists but rather the support of people who knew what they were going through. People, who understood the farming life, people who had faced their own tragedies and losses on the farm. United in this support the organization has flourished to support people across the country. Volunteers provide a free confidential listening service, experienced people are also on hand to visit anyone who has experienced a farm accident or farm death. A family weekend last year enabled parents and children to sit side by side and share their stories in the most helpful way possible with each other.
As a therapist sitting at the back of the room I was humbled to meet genuine kind understanding people. People who were willing to stand up in a group and tell their story as a way to help others and in some way to understand their own grief. No course has ever thought me the compassion and heartfelt human connection that I witnessed and felt in Tuam last Friday. having experienced bereavement in rural Ireland I am only too aware of the amount of support that is available from the local community. Embrace showed me last week what it means to be there and to understand grief and loss. I left the meeting a wiser person from the people I had the privilege to listen to. Farming is a vocation and a way of life that is hard to explain at times and with it comes the risk of danger and loss, which we all try to mange and avoid.
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Gina Dowd MIACP