#GriefLiteracy: Join the movement!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 1-2:30 p.m. ET

Click here to view the full recording of this event.

Grief literacy aims to improve how everyday citizens can understand grief and support one another in it. This concept is embedded in a public health commitment to understanding and addressing the loneliness and isolation caused by grief. The goal of grief literacy is to empower individuals, networks and communities to support the bereaved among us with everyday acts of kindness and compassion. For greater grief literacy, change needs to occur at all levels. While certainly some bereaved people need professional support, for many a salient social response is community-based acknowledgment and validation. 

This event will be led by two originators of the Grief Literacy concept. Professor Mary Ellen Macdonald will provide an overview of Grief Literacy, its recent development by an international team of grief scholars, and its relationship to public health palliative care. Professor Susan Cadell will operationalize the concept of Grief Literacy by providing vignettes that can be used for education and practice. In this talk, the concept of Grief Literacy will also be connected to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be time reserved for open discussion with our two speakers. Michael Villeneuve, CNA Chief Executive Officer, will provide opening remarks.

Presented by:

Mary Ellen Macdonald, PhD
Associate Professor, Faculty of Dentistry
McGill University

Mary Ellen Macdonaldis a medical anthropologist. Her current research program in palliative care focuses on bereavement, including sociocultural analysis of child death and parental bereavement, grief after assisted dying, and private and public acts of memorialization. She is an Associate Member of the McGill Institute for Health Sciences Education, and Program Head, Pediatric Palliative Care Research, Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre. She is committed to understanding how social, cultural and political phenomena intersect to produce and respond to vulnerability within Canadian society. Her main areas of research include: oral health; death, dying and bereavement; and Indigenous well-being.


Susan Cadell, PhD, RSW
Professor, School of Social Work
Renison University College, University of Waterloo

Susan Cadell is a social work researcher and her research concerns death, dying and bereavement, particularly positive outcomes of caregiving and grief. Susan’s most recent projects concern the public health model of bereavement support, grief after Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), and tattoos that disrupt, celebrate or memorialize.