New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, won my heart over

In September, I visited Nova Scotia for the very first time. You might guess that it was the idyllic landscape that took my breath away. It did.

I also marvelled at the historic buildings and character homes. Stunning! The variety of fresh seafood was delicious. I savored each bite.

But it was the people of New Glasgow who captured my heart. They served up a generous dose of inspiration.

Residents of New Glasgow live up to Nova Scotia’s reputation for their warm and friendly hospitality.

But a special courage characterizes the people I met. They notice people in their community who are experiencing a significant loss and respond with empathy and compassion. Motivated by the love of Christ, they are mindful to let no one grieve alone. They are Hope Heroes.

A Hope Hero is someone who courageously pushes aside their own discomfort with grief to show care and compassion for a grieving soul. Their courage and acts of kindness make them extraordinary to the griever.

A Hope Hero steps into the sorrow by doing the L.A.P.P.

Acknowledge the loss
Patiently be present

It’s not an official statistic, but I’m convinced that New Glasgow has the highest number of Hope Heroes per capita. This is a reputation I pray will be the pursuit for every community, including yours and mine.

Think about your own grief journey. Are there people—Hope Heroes—who care for you in meaningful ways? Do you feel a deep gratitude for their kindness? Do you realize God is loving you through them?

A beautiful expression of your gratitude is helping someone else escape the grip of despair by showing up with empathy and compassion.

As we serve others as a Hope Hero, a little piece of healing takes place in us. It may feel counterintuitive to your hurting heart, but God has designed us to serve others as part of our self-care.

Choosing to be a Hope Hero is a direct path to a meaningful purpose for our pain. This is not a theory. I’ve experienced it and so have many others, including my new friends in New Glasgow.

Pastor Bruce

Have you ever met someone and knew this was a divine appointment?

This happened to me a few months ago with Bruce Morrison.

As the pastor of Christian Fellowship Church in New Glasgow, Bruce is part of a clergy group with whom I had shared a grief presentation on Zoom.

Shortly after meeting online, Pastor Bruce called me.

I knew immediately that he was a kindred spirit. We have a common passion to ease the burden of a loss for the grieving and equip their friends to be caring grief companions.


For the past 18 months, tragedy has hit Nova Scotia especially hard. Their devastating losses have made the headlines.

With a desire to equip his congregation for grief, Pastor Bruce invested in hundreds of copies of my book, “The Little Black Funeral Dress.”

The church made the books available as a gift to the 100+ members. His congregant’s enthusiasm to read the book led many to share it with their grieving neighbours and friends.

An Invitation

Then came a remarkable invitation to visit Nova Scotia.

For 3 consecutive days and then a 4th event a few days later, I spoke with people experiencing grief and those caring for the bereaved. I was grateful for this opportunity, but it was intense.

Time after time, I have felt unqualified for what God is asking me to do with Him.

But I keep coming back to this truth: my life is not about me. When my goal is pleasing myself, frustration follows. The belief that it’s my life on my terms is a faulty premise.

I’m here on this planet to bring honor to God by living a life marked by serving others with gratitude. My lack of natural abilities isn’t a deal breaker. In fact, God delights in revealing His strength through my weakness.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 NLT.

Without Excuse

Therefore, I am without excuse. The same is true of you.

Because of Christ, you and I are qualified and capable of doing what God is calling us to do. The Bible defines our purpose, love God and love others. Being a Hope Hero embodies this love. No amount of grief, loss, and disappointments exempts us from this meaningful purpose.

A Caring Heart

Betty has a beautiful smile and a caring heart. As part of Christian Fellowship Church, she was a Hope Hero by placing two copies of my book, “The Little Black Funeral Dress – Five Things I Wish I Had Known About Grief” in her little community library. She noticed how quickly the two books were picked up.

How has God nudged you to be a Hope Hero?

Get ready to say “yes” to the unique ideas and opportunities that come your way.

You don’t need to be on a speaking platform or write a book to have an impact. Like my friends in New Glasgow, choose to notice someone who is experiencing a loss and let them know you care. Listen, acknowledge the loss, pray and patiently be present.

Let no one grieve alone.

Picture of Shirley Thiessen

Shirley Thiessen

Author and speaker helping you bring hope to broken, grieving hearts.