Health Talks

The Valley Regional Hospital Foundation is hosting a series of talks to highlight health-related topics with presentations by professionals at Valley Regional Hospital. Sessions are open to the public. If your group is interested in having a presentation, please contact the Foundation at 902-678-5414.

UPDATE: In response to the COVID-19 crisis, all events including Health Talks, will be suspended until further notice. In the meantime we will be posting informative health and wellness articles that we hope you enjoy.

Grief in the Storm: Hope for Healing Series

“I know it will be alright. It’s just going to take some time. So, hold on in this storm.”  ~ Tara MacLean & Catherine MacLellan

It has been snowing off and on over the last few days. Dark clouds, snow, rain, and then clearing to bright sunshine. The changes in our weather have marked the waves of emotion we find ourselves feeling. We were riding out the storm of change, fear, and uncertainty that came with COVID-19. Then the shocking reality of recent tragedies hit our community hard. We are grieving on many levels.

Grief is strange. There are no rules. There is no way we should feel. Grief is invisible, and yet overwhelming at times. We may have no personal connections to the loss that our province has suffered and yet we are hurting. It is our own ability to feel for others and our compassion that creates this pain. We are all feeling the loss.

People are social beings. This means that we need others and relationship to survive. Saying we are stronger together is actually based in science. We need connection like we need the air we breathe. Our community has been creative in the ways we have found connection amid COVID-19 including video chats, telephone calls, social media, an online kitchen party, volunteering to contribute to medical efforts and those in need. This connection is actually like a protective layer to help us cope and make sense of what is going on around us.

Grieving, too, is a shared process. When 9/11 happened, many of us remember where we were and who we were with as the events unfolded. I remember sitting with my co-workers for hours talking, crying and sharing our fears. We grieve together because traumatic loss is too painful to feel alone. Some of us have been very creative in finding ways to grieve through this time but others may feel disconnected, overwhelmed, frozen/numb, and unable to reach for support. Our ability to reach for help may change day to day. This is normal. It is hard but it is normal.

  1. Give yourself time. We must give ourselves permission and grace to take the time to adjust to losses we have all experienced. This ultimately takes time. Time does not change our feelings of incredible sadness and pain but it can dull over time. The work of grief is to seek comfort. Comfort might be a warm cup of tea, listening to soothing music, giving yourself permission to rest, wrapping yourself in soft warm blanket and snuggling with your pet.
  2. Sharing our pain. It is hard to move through and process grief if we do not allow ourselves time to pause long enough in order to feel the pain and express our hurt with others. Our pain is eased when we grieve together in our relationships.
  3. Ritual and celebration of life. We do not have access to our more traditional ways of gathering to grieve. Virtual memorials, posters in our windows, standing in our driveways to honour those lost have been creative ways our community has “gathered.” Ritual is soothing. Lighting a candle, gathering pictures, spiritual rituals like prayer, calling friends to talk about how you feel are some other simple ways to begin to process grief.

It can be scary to think about the mental health of our family, friends, neighbours and larger community. The hope comes from the science of relationship. Keeping people connected to someone, people knowing that they matter, and the sense that someone is thinking about them can make a huge impact on how we heal from grief, even traumatic grief. Pain we share is pain we can bear. Some of us will need formal mental health services to process and heal but many of us will recover by leaning on family and friends. So how can we ensure that no one is left behind?

A Call to Action – Leaving No One Behind:

Would it be possible for community groups that would normally meet for recreation, spiritual practice or service organization to gather virtually and connect with other members? It is through shared experiences that we feel less alone.

Let’s close the gap on those who may be missed. Using our community groups to make a call out list. Divide the list and make an attempt to reach out to every person. Not everyone will want to talk but some will. Others might just appreciate the message you left on their voicemail. Our lifeline through this storm is connection.

Clannad Counselling & Consulting is offering free consults to businesses/ organization and groups on supporting your people. We encourage leaders of all kinds to reach out so we can support you in your efforts to care for your team. If you are in need of support please reach out to us by email: or leave a message at 902-365-3363. We are offering either video or telephone sessions.

We would also like to invite other private practices/therapists in our community to reach out to us if they would like to collaborate and contribute to this initiative. Let’s heal together!

The Hope for Healing Series is written by Michelle MacIsaac MSW, RSW, Kathleen Murphy BEd, MSW, & Annette Bentley, MS.

Other free mental health services in our community:

For the Public:

Provincial Mental Health Crisis line
The Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line is available 24/7. 1-888-429-8167

Crisis text line
Crisis Text Line is for adults of any age who need to talk during a difficult time. This service is free and is available 24/7. Special support is also available for frontline workers. Text NSSTRONG to 741741

Special support is also available for frontline workers.
For frontline workers: text FRONTLINE to 741741

Mental Health and Addiction Services of Annapolis Valley

Canadian Mental Health Association, Nova Scotia Division
Canadian Mental Health Association, Nova Scotia Division offers a website offers many excellent resources on managing mental health during COVID-19, including information about talking to children about the Pandemic.

Grief and Bereavement Services
Roy Ellis, Bereavement Coordinator
Tel: 902-473-1622
Fax: 902-473-3103

To contact Palliative Care:
902-473-3119, Fax: 902-473-3103

For Students:
Good2Talk Nova Scotia provides support for all post-secondary students in this difficult time. 1-833-292-3698  Text 686868

HealthyMindsNS offers online mental health programs for university and NSCC students in Nova Scotia.

For Children: Provincial Mental Health Crisis line
A Kid’s Help Phone counsellor is available 24/7. 1-800-668-6868

To contact Clannad Counselling and Consulting:

Phone: (902) 365-3363 | Fax: (902) 365-2630
535 Main Street, Kentville, NS B4N 1L4

To donate to Valley Regional Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund:



Your Wellbeing During Crisis: Hope for Healing Series

“We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.” ~ Brené Brown

We see the incredible need in our community right now. We hear the struggle of many families. We know many are lonely and without physical access to loved ones. We feel the fear, uncertainty and grief.

We are playing new and unexpected roles and carrying added responsibilities in order to support others and meet demands. Our routines, expectations and hopes have all been interrupted. We are all searching for a ‘new normal’ and some sort of stability. In light of the recent and tragic events that have taken place in our province, we are now reeling with confusion, anger and significant loss. We can feel the weight of our sadness.

We also know that the human spirit is an amazing gift.

We can rise from trauma when we know someone cares, when we experience meaningful connection, and when we allow ourselves to just feel what we feel. The struggle is real and so is the hope.

The goals of connection and healing have brought together the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation and Clannad Counselling & Consulting in a partnership. We are working together in the hope that we might provide some comfort and support to our community at a time of great need.

This series is written by Michelle MacIsaac, MSW, RSW and Kathleen Murphy, BEd, MSW of Clannad Counselling & Consulting, and Annette Bentley, MS, Health Education, Annual Fund Coordinator for Valley Regional Hospital Foundation.

To begin, we will be publishing Hope for Healing, a series of articles that focus on helping us better understand ourselves and the needs of others in our community. Each article will highlight challenges like parenting through Covid-19, grieving at a distance, working from home, and fear around financial uncertainty. We will also provide some simple options for you to try at home. We will invite you to explore resources including guided meditations, movement, articles for further reading, and gentle video meditations. Each of us will find comfort in something different so feel free to try something new.

Throughout history, the strength of people during crisis has been based on our connections and how we lean on others. Please join us in our journey toward hope for healing. We are all in this together.

Since 1985, Valley Regional Hospital Foundation has operated as an independent charity to foster a culture of sustained giving in support of health care. Through significant capital purchases, endowments, and special program and service initiatives, the Foundation positively impacts access to health care for the people of the Annapolis Valley and beyond. The Foundation has raised over $27.5 million since its inception.

Clannad Counselling & Consulting is a therapy clinic in Kentville, NS. Clannad was built from a strong belief that relationship and connection are the keys to mental health and wellbeing. Now, more then ever, we are working hard to find new and creative ways to stay connected as a team, lean on one another, and draw support from the people closest to us. This is why we have made delivery of our clinical services through alternative means a top priority. We are excited about our partnership with the Foundation because it allows us to lean into our values, reduce barriers and reach out to connect more directly with our larger community. Community connection is the path to ensuring we heal from this collective experience.

To contact Clannad Counselling and Consulting:

Phone: (902) 365-3363 | Fax: (902) 365-2630
535 Main Street, Kentville, NS B4N 1L4

To donate to Valley Regional Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund: