Dear Editor: Coming Together to Heal

Over the last two years, Nova Scotians of all ages have been impacted by unprecedented grief and loss. The COVID-19 pandemic and public health restrictions have prevented people from coming together, supporting one another, or participating in many traditional rituals of mourning and celebration. Individuals have suffered physical, emotional, or mental health challenges and have found themselves in a state of depression, anxiety and burnout. Our healthcare professionals and other frontline workers have experiences unique hardships and health risks wile continuing to do their jobs throughout the pandemic.

We are all feeling a general sense of loss and disconnect. Our children have lost some of life’s milestone experiences, such as graduation or first Christmas concerts. Family visits, weddings, reunions have been limited or cancelled. Community tragedies have led to unimaginable fear, pain, and loss and has impacted communities with grief and trauma.


As the new year got underway, hopes were renewed when we thought the corner was turned. However, it soon became clear that grief and trauma seem to have taken firm hold of far too many. The sadness and yearning that comes with grief and the need to reconnect with friends and family continues to manifest itself. Feelings of fear and guilt often experienced by those who have lost a loved one, are unfortunately a complex part of grieving. The Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association (NSHPCA) believes that when communities come together in support of one another, that sense of hopelessness is lessened. In early February, the NSHPCA held a province-wide virtual Weary Heart Café. Through the sharing of stories, hearts and spirits were uplifted, an activity that resonated with so many Nova Scotians.

Grief is different for everyone. Whether it is a community coming together in support of one another or simply individuals willing to listen to someone sharing a story or participating in a conversation, these are the activities that will bring hope and encouragement to the grieving person.

Social science research tells us that, with appropriate community support, most people who grieve will not require intensive professional services or counselling. Community support can include education about what grief looks like, how to support those who are grieving, and providing supportive spaces to talk.

If Nova Scotians are to heal, we need to gather and work together to implement best practices, expand resources, and respond to the increasing need for accessible grief supports in our communities. Given the complexities of our world, it will take a collective effort to bring resolve. In so doing, many Nova Scotians will find hope and a means of elevating their spirits.

Colleen Cash
Executive Director
Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association