Taking Care In Times Of Grief

Our hearts are heavy as we at Fenwick Wellness join with all Nova Scotians in expressing our deep condolences to all that lost loved ones to this terrible tragedy. In addition to the unthinkable loss of life, it seems as though we have also lost a sense of innocence.

There is no one right way to feel about what happened over the course of those now-historic 14 hours, and no one right way to react to the information that continues to unfold as the investigation continues. There will be disbelief, a need to know details, anger, deep sadness, frustration, and compassion.

We will all process this grief differently. For some, small things that didn’t bother us might instead be amplified, while other things might not even hit the radar of importance. We might want to retreat and numb the pain in solitude, yet others will want to reach out to loved-ones. Right now, if you can, allow emotions to be here without feeling the need to change them or fix them. Be open to lighter moments, too, as they are the life-ring that can give us a chance to rest from the exhaustion of grief.

Practice patience with yourself: it may be harder than usual to concentrate, you might not feel up to the big group video chat, social media may be agitating more than soothing, the news may be too heavy to take in. Try to be kind to yourself and those that you love—we are all grieving. As best you can, try to limit use of substances to cope. Initially it might feel like the right thing to do, but it can often make things worse, not just for you, but also for those who love you. Try to eat regularly, hydrate, and get fresh air. Your body still needs all of these things. Journaling, poetry, art, and music can soothe the soul.

Many of our grieving processes are currently complicated by the restrictions imposed by the public health guidelines to maintain physical distancing. In these incredibly challenging times, it is ever more important to stay connected, by phone, email or video chat. It is natural that some of us will want to do something to represent our community strength, or to show loved ones of the victims that they are in our thoughts. We might be struggling to find meaningful ways to show that we care, and we are being called upon to be creative with our gestures of love and shared grief because right now we can’t do what we normally do. If you are crafty, perhaps making a sign for your window will bring some feelings of comfort. Cooking or baking for someone in need can give you an outlet, while bringing solace to someone else.

There have already been many moving community based gestures with tartan flags flying and a candlelight moment of silence, for example. And thanks to technology there are other opportunities to send messages of support. For example, messages of condolence and appreciation for Constable Heidi Stevenson can be sent to:

You can join this informal Facebook group where people are sharing memorials, tributes, and well wishes to those affected by this horrific tragedy: https://www.facebook.com/groups/162084731778930/

If you want to connect in spirit with the greater community there will be a virtual vigil this Friday, April 24 at 7pm: https://www.facebook.com/events/161680291833020/

If you are struggling to cope with these tragedies, and these outlets are not providing relief, please reach out to a mental health professional, or visit The Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team for support: https://www.ementalhealth.ca/index.php?m=record&ID=10508

Give yourself permission to do what feels right to you, and respect what feels right to others. And remember, people are resilient. Nova Scotians are resilient. It is when we give ourselves a chance to tend to our wounds with courage, openness, and care that we find this resilience and from there we can heal and rise up to meet what lies ahead.

Written By- Lori Parker, Registered Psychologist