Saying Goodbye Concert

Join us for the Saying Goodbye Concert on Nov 15th

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For so many Canadians, the grief of saying goodbye to a loved one has deepened with the social isolation of 2020. At Arbor, we’ve seen firsthand the heartbreak of losing a loved one during the time of the pandemic. Too many Canadians have been unable to visit loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes, or to mourn with social support at the funeral service their loved one had wanted.

John Laframboise, Director of Community Relations at Arbor, puts it this way: each member of the Arbor family, “has reached into their toolkits as funeral professionals to be as creative and coordinated as ever during the pandemic.” As always, we’ve listened intently to the people we serve. Through listening, we realized we could do even more to support our families in this unprecedented journey through grief: that’s why sponsoring the Saying Goodbye Concert was a natural fit.

The Saying Goodbye Concert

The Saying Goodbye Concert, organized by our partner the Canadian Hospice and Paliative Care Association (CPHCA), is an entirely virtual event taking place on November 15th to honour loved ones who’ve passed, and process our collective grief.

You’ll be able to view the concert for free at 7pm Eastern on either YouTube or the CHPCA Facebook page. The musical guests represent every corner of Canada, including John McDermott, Alan Doyle, and Tara Shannon. Multiple languages will also be represented because of artists like Florent Vollant, who’ll be performing in both his First Nations language Innu and in French.

Many of the performers will share their own stories behind what the concert means for them, and some, like Eileen Laverty from Saskatchewan, have even written original songs for the theme of saying goodbye in these times. The hope of each artist is to bring comfort and companionship to Canadians experiencing this unique journey of grief, without all our traditional mourning rituals in place.

You’re invited to come alone or with loved ones to listen to the music, and there’s a way for you to say goodbye to your loved one as well. During the concert’s Facebook live chat, you can share a dedication to the loved one who’s passed. Names that were submitted to CHPCA in August will also be shared on screen during the concert.

Kelly MacLaren, the Development and Partnership Officer at CHPCA, shared her hope for what the concert will mean to viewers: “I’d encourage people to look at this as their time for the country to acknowledge the shared grief that everyone has endured.”


The Saying Goodbye Campaign

 Back in spring of this year, during the first wave of COVID-19 and lockdown in Canada, the CHPCA Champions Council initiated the Saying Goodbye campaign. The council is made up primarily of ex-MPs and industry leaders who sent letters to provincial health ministers across Canada. They requested that families be allowed to visit loved ones close to end-of-life on grounds of compassion.

Some provinces responded immediately with visitation options, including Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador. Manitoba and New Brunswick responded with plans to phase out restrictions as these provinces ended different stages of recovery. However, not every province has responded, and as Canada faces its current, second wave of COVID-19 and renewed restrictions in some regions, the Saying Goodbye campaign continues to champion visiting rights on compassionate grounds.


Origins of the Concert 

The idea for the Saying Goodbye Concert came to Kelly MacLaren at CHPCA when reflecting on the additional grief of families and friends that couldn’t make that last visit to say goodbye. She also considered an issue that’s close to us here at Arbor, which is that many people couldn’t give their loved ones the funeral or celebration of life they wanted. Still more couldn’t attend the event due to living out of province, or because of restrictions on the number of attendees.  While livestreamed funerals helped to connect many families, these are all losses in themselves, adding complexity to the grief experienced by so many Canadians this year. And yet, the weight of loss facing our society went largely unacknowledged.

The disconnection from our social circles and daily routines would only have added more isolation to people in a time already marked by social distancing. So, Kelly decided it was important to shine light on the unique nature of grief in 2020, and to bring back the healing power of social support – all through the unifying impact of music.

John McDermott had previously offered to perform across the country in support of palliative care prior to COVID-19. So, Kelly reached out to him to gauge his interest in her new idea of the Saying Goodbye Concert. He was more than willing to help, and found every participating musician, except Tara Shannon who was also already involved with CHPCA and proud to support as well. These were immediate wins.

Sponsors came in next. Our goal at Arbor is to bring the Saying Goodbye concert directly to the people who need it most – the grieving families we’ve served one-on-one over the course of the year.

Arbor teams across Canada had been supporting hospice and palliative care at the community level for years, and over the last couple years Arbor has increasingly supported CHPCA at the national level.  After our first visit to the CHPCA annual conference, we realized that one of the biggest challenges in palliative care is awareness and education. For us, sponsoring the Saying Goodbye concert is also a part of our mission to bring awareness to the important work of hospice and palliative care workers across the country, and to the resources and policy activism of CHPCA.


National Bereavement Day

The Saying Goodbye Concert is intentionally taking place the Sunday before National Bereavement Day, which is the third Tuesday of every November. This is an important campaign for CHPCA every year to start the conversation about palliative care and policymaking, share resources, and support people experiencing grief and bereavement. This year, the Saying Goodbye Concert brings extra attention to National Bereavement Day, and highlights the need for a compassionate approach to end-of life care and visitations at all times: especially during separation from loved ones due to COVID-19. For more resources on processing grief and National Bereavement Day, please visit CHPCA.


Saying Goodbye Together

               We hope you’ll join us and other Canadians in saying goodbye to our loved ones and supporting each other through this collective grief. We may be socially isolated, but we don’t have to go through this alone.

Please share this invite with your loved ones, and tune in live to the Saying Goodbye Concert at 7pm Eastern on November 15th.

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