Grief and Loss Through Black Eyes In the Time of Covid-19
by Shelley Fashan, Community Impact Coordinator, Nova Scotia Network for Social Change (an initiative of NS GovLab)
We hosted our second virtual gathering!! As part of our first virtual open house with community, we asked what some of the important issues community were facing right now. One of the issues that came to the forefront was the topic of grief and loss in the time of Covid. The group identified this as one of the critical conversations the community wanted to have. So on November 24, 2020, I hosted a virtual session with our social work student, Jenna Andrews, and our special guest speakers were Pastor Rhonda Britton and Dr. Linda Carvery. Our guest speakers were profound, powerful and impactful. Their collective community wisdom will continue to resound for some time to come. The question we asked our special guests to respond to was, how do we get through, get over and get by during this time while continuing to influence and make positive change in our communities. Both of our honoured speakers dropped many pearls of wisdom that we were all able to connect with.
Pastor Britton reminded us that there are so many other forms of loss besides death, loss of a job, loss of connection and community, such as in the case of Africville and the kinds of devastating effects these loses can have mentally and spiritually. One of her key learnings were, we are not alone and that through service, and activism we can strengthen our connections to our communities and to each other. Other valued points she made were feeling supported by your community is what helps folks deal with loss. She also reminded us that there is no timeframe on loss, and our greatest challenge is finding purpose for our lives right now in the midst of the pandemic.
Dr. Linda Carvery shared several thoughtful and meaningful messages as well as her own personal story of loss. She shared with us that sharing her experiences helps with her healing a great deal, she talked about some of the things that give her strength and purpose. Her music and the ability to express herself with singing everyday and things like, the tinge of validation she feels when seeing Black Lives Matter on the front of the Halifax Metro Transit buses (secretly I know how she feels). She talked about finding hope and healing through her artistic expressions.
Following the guest speakers, we broke the group into 4 break-out rooms and asked the small groups to discuss and reflect on any or all of these three questions:
1. How have you and/or your organization navigated grief and loss during this time?
2. How do we shift and collaborate together at this where we are potentially seeing a second wave of Covid-19?
3. What do you need to build strength and resilience at this time as we navigate grief and loss?
These discussions made for some interesting conversations, emerging from these discussions were several great ideas, concepts and solutions. One group recommended that our government be more involved with supporting grieving families and communities by making more grief counselling services available. Another group identified technology as a solution to connecting to seniors at home and there is a real need to address isolation for seniors. The notion that there needs to be ways to solidify memory so stories can live on.
Other important insights shared by the group revolved around being there for each other, they saw virtual sessions are one way of doing this. We already have incredible strength and resilience; persevering through adversity is what we do. One of the last notes the group shared is this pandemic has shown us the importance of how much we really need each other, and we are truly stronger together.
We are honoured to be able to host such important conversations. We look forward to how the wisdom from these sessions will inform our work to come. If you attended the session, you should have received an email with a link to a survey for you to share your thoughts and feedback. If you weren’t able to attend we hope this summary and the graphic recording gives you a sense of the session. We hope you will be able to join us in the future.
Again, thank-you for your commitment and involvement in change work!