Open Mind: Remembering strength

This year certainly has been one to remember.

I think that from a mental health perspective, it does us all good to remember how people have triumphed through past years of adversity and hardships brought on by war and the trauma of devastating situations.

I like Remembrance Day, not only to honour those who fought so that we might have freedom and better lives, but also to reflect on the state of the world then and how the human spirit lifted and carried many through exceedingly dark times.

I remember seniors sharing stories of how, when they were young people, during the Second World War they had to be sent away to live with strangers that they were told would keep them safe. Families being split up and separated. They also tell stories of lining up for food and using food stamps as basic pantry staples were difficult to get. People shared and cared and came together through tough times.

One of our co-editors was talking with a couple who grew up in Scotland and experienced firsthand the challenges imposed by WWII. They shared that people were frightened and in dangerous situations. They had to carry gas masks compared to the face masks we are using today.  They even remember the chaos and fear as they ran to safety in air raid shelters. They huddled with loved ones and together they had the strength to face WWII.

There are many stories of people and soldiers existing through horrendous situations of trauma, starvation, camps and separation from loved ones. What amazes me is how people lived and found inner strength and perseverance in such desperate times. Mental fortitude to save themselves and others.

I know that the trauma of the times changed those individuals profoundly. Their resilience is admirable.

Today we find the world is again facing uncertainty and we are all feeling the repercussions of that.

I wonder if we can use these memories and stories of struggle and determination to help us find the strength we need today to get through these troubled times? 

When I think of the nurses looking after soldiers on the battlefield, surrounded by suffering, I see the same strength of character in our “front line” staff today who are again faced with illness, uncertainty and loss. The nurses, doctors, paramedics and all heath care professionals care and give of themselves daily. I wonder if they are inspired by the people who worked through troubled times in the past.

We can all learn from these brave people who set the foundation for our lives today.

Paula Frappier is an occupational therapist, education coordinator and Open Mind member.

The “Open Mind” column is sponsored by community partners who are committed to raising awareness about mental health, reducing stigma and providing information about resources that can help. For local mental health resources/information, visit or call 1-844-HERE247.

By Paula Frappier