“If you are going through hell, keep going!”- Sir Winston Churchill
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter our world, and our brave pharmacists and healthcare workers continue to fight this disease on the front lines, I also want to look to those battling its realities on the home front. The burdens of these times are carried by many from the isolation of their own homes. Their experiences are also challenging, and their lives are significantly affected. This is a common fight and an extraordinary experience for us all. We are all challenged to rise to it. It is difficult. It is threatening. It has separated us. The statistics are overwhelming, and many more may not get through this. For those lives that have already been lost, may they rest in peace.
To those of you who are exhausted from working your jobs in your home environment while trying to keep up with the K-12 curriculum for your children, I commend you and wish you rest when possible. Give yourself grace. It’s okay if you don’t get everything right.
For those of you who are caring for aging parents from afar, I understand your struggle. I hope you will find peace and patience as you try to keep them safe and informed.
To the parents who are watching their grown children mourn their high school graduations, university convocations, weddings, and other important milestones, I empathize with you and encourage you to treasure any of the extra time you get to spend with your growing families.
To our students and colleagues who feel the loss of income, stability, or are experiencing increased stress over examinations, don’t lose hope. We have strong and remarkable public health and education systems. You also have a strong and resilient Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and people who care about your wellbeing. Greater things are yet to come.
To those of you who worriedly watch your loved ones put themselves in harm's way to work at the front lines of this pandemic, I thank you for your bravery too. The ‘duty before self’ that your loved ones emulate again and again, is not just the right thing to do, it’s what we must do as our compassion defines our profession. For us, battling against disease is a fight that will continue throughout our professional lives. The public needs facts, honesty, credibility, and care. That’s what we can offer. We have risen up to the expectations. Pride and praise for the front lines are everywhere, and symbolic clapping is a manifestation of this. I clap for you too, for supporting your loved ones and for those who work to care for the health of others.
To those of you who are now more separated from your loved ones than ever before, I wish you strength and many uplifting video calls, conversations, and text messages.
As this pandemic progresses, it puts strains on each and every one of us in unique, yet similar ways. Some of us observed Passover or Lent, and now Easter and Ramadan are approaching. These are stories of suffering, sacrifice, and salvation. Many of us will miss out on religious, community, or family gatherings and continue to spend our time in isolation. I say to everyone, don’t reverse direction when you come to a difficult step. Hard times make stronger people. Let’s keep each others’ spirits and morales up. This is testing our composure and resilience, but our collective resolve and behaviour will ultimately define us.
Today is also Vimy Ridge Day. It is a poignant reminder of past sacrifices that have kept Canada strong and free. Churchill also said, “We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.” There are difficult days behind us and difficult days ahead. This is not the ‘new normal’. Rather, we are in a temporary existential purgatory, and better days will return.
Whatever your situation may be, I hope that you can see glimmers of light whenever you can, show kindness to your neighbours and colleagues, and have patience with yourself. Thank you for supporting your families, friends, colleagues, classmates, and the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. I want you all to feel supported and safe. We are grateful to each and everyone of you in this time of grief, and we wish you peace and good health.
Neal M. Davies BSc(Pharm), Ph.D., R.Ph.
Dean and Professor