To the Editor:
As residents of Nova Scotia, we are needing to summon the kind of strength we did not know we had in order to face the atrocities of this week.
News of a mass shooting is always devastating. News of a mass shooting that took place in your neighborhood is a nightmare. News of a mass shooting during a global pandemic when coming together to mourn is ruled illegal is unfathomable.
This is what we are facing.
In a time when all we wish to do is attend vigils, conduct communal gatherings, and lean on one another for support as a united community, we will not. We know that doing so could mean senselessly risking even more lives. The COVID-19 virus does not care about our need to grieve together, so we need to muster all the strength we have and unite while staying apart.
And we are trying. Plans have already been made to accommodate virtual and united ways to pay tribute to those we lost and bring comfort to their families. An online vigil is planned for Friday night and RCMP has taken the powerful initiative of setting up an email address where you can send condolences which will be passed on to Const. Heidi Stevenson’s family. Premier Stephen McNeil has also suggested we tie a blue ribbon on your balcony or front door.
We are trying, and we should continue to find our own ways to mourn, unite, and pay tribute. But we must also remember, it is okay to sink its sadness at some points. This is not an easy time.
Before the horrific events of last week, Nova Scotia was already on shaky grounds as residents tried to grapple with newfound economic uncertainty that came with COVID-19. With 80 per cent of Nova Scotia residents in service jobs, we are one of the hardest hit provinces in Canada. The coronavirus job crises, along with the shutting down of Northern Pulp, Nova Scotia’s biggest pulp mill that provided jobs to thousands, already left our small but densely populated area desperate for a silver lining.
This is not meant to be sob-story time, but it is meant to highlight that we are living through a time of economic uncertainty, health insecurity, and now our community had been shook to its core with a violent and unprecedented massacre.
Our psyches are shot. And that is okay. If we do not acknowledge these hardships, they will come back to bite us later. If we do not take the time to wallow, to grieve, to shout into our pillows, we are not allowing ourselves to be human. Self-compassion is key. Fellow compassion is vital.
So, while we attend vigils through zoom and tie our ribbons on the front of our doors, we must allow ourselves to feel the pain our community is in. We will never recover if we do not acknowledge our pain, both collective and personal.
I wish all my fellow Nova Scotia resident’s the strength to feel our sadness, the ability to grieve our losses, and truckloads of compassion during these dark times.