This article was originally published by the Ottawa Citizen on June 20, 2022.
By Elizabeth Payne
The pandemic has been a setback for good end of life care, according to an international expert in a movement to improve the care people receive at the end of their lives.
Dr. Allan Kellehear, an international expert on a growing movement to improve the way communities respond and people think about living, dying and grief, said allowing people to die on their own during the pandemic with little end of life support and little grief support in the community has been a disgrace.
He predicted an increase in people dealing with complicated grief because they were not able to be there when their loved ones died in hospital or care homes during the periods of the pandemic.
Kellehear is speaking at the Carleton Dominion Chalmers Centre Tuesday as part of a series of events designed to help members of the community recovery following more than two years of the pandemic.
Compassionate Ottawa, which aims to change the way people think about living, dying and grief, is one of the organizers of the events through Together Ottawa Ensemble being held in Ottawa until June 26. The events are aimed at helping people remember those they have lost, reflect on the pandemic, thank those who helped them and imagine a hopeful future.
Among the events were grief and bereavement workshops, community barbecues and events recognizing the resilience of community members during the pandemic. Events are listed at: https://togetherottawaensemble.ca/events/.
Jim Ninninger, co-founder of Compassionate Ottawa, said there is a need for many people to grieve and heal after their experiences during the pandemic.
“Some families couldn’t say goodbye to their loved ones. That has brought a lot of grief and anger. That has really hurt individuals and it has not been good for our community. We need to find ways of helping to heal.”
Nininger said his organization has discovered that when it holds workshops on bereavement and grief people have a need to talk and to share their experiences. The group began running the workshops before the pandemic but has found there is a growing need for people to share their stories about grief and loss.
Kellehear will talk about the public health approach to palliative care.
The organization Together Ottawa Ensemble invited groups to organize events over a two-week period that honour those who died during the pandemic, thank health-care workers, reflect on lessons from the pandemic and build a vision of hope.
More information on Kellehear’s talk is available on the Compassionate Ottawa website: https://compassionateottawa.ca/event/an-evening-with-dr-allan-kellehear/.