Photo: Nopparat Promtha/iStock

Strength in Numbers: Walking Through Grief Society

By Carly Peters

Audra was eager to experience life. She raised sheep in 4-H and showed horses at the Kitscoty Fair. She sang in the church choir during her spare time and arranged picnics for her foster siblings on the family farm. Audra saw the good in everyone and was always available for others whenever they felt down or were racked with grief.

Audra tragically died on June 27, 1982. But her way of living continues to inspire and guide her mother, Shirley Scott. As founder of the Walking Through Grief Society, the AMA member supports fellow Albertans who have experienced loss.

“I learned so much from Audra,” Scott says, as she describes her beloved daughter’s vibrant life. After the devastating loss, Scott resolved to adapt grief into positivity and bring a bit of Audra to the world. “I could’ve become bitter or better,” she explains. “But the way I honour my loved one is how I choose to live the rest of my life.”


An Alberta-based charitable organization, the Walking Through Grief Society was born out of Scott’s need to understand what grief looked and felt like—to normalize what she was going through. That first year after Audra’s passing, Scott was, as she calls it, “roboting”—just going through the motions of living. Lacking any useful information on processing grief, she started meeting up with others also dealing with loss.

Scott found solace and value in their collective experiences by seeing from behind their eyes. The process not only helped her better understand her grief, but also extended her empathy to others.

Shirley Scott with her 2021 Stars of Alberta Award, the highest honour
for volunteers in the province


Thirty years on, the Walking Through Grief Society offers online programs and in-person support in Wainwright, Vermilion and Lloydminster to people managing all kinds of loss. Scott is particularly proud of their work with kids through Hope After Loss: Audra’s Legacy, a program for grieving children ages six through 16. In the future, she hopes to expand services to support children grieving loss through family separation and divorce.

The society aims to help people understand the variety of responses associated with a personal loss. And while there are common feelings, physical symptoms, thoughts and behaviours, there is room for individual expressions of grief within this broad range of responses.

“The way I see it, we all bring the unique circumstances of our individual loss, but we share a broken heart,” Scott says, noting that an individual can choose one-on-one consultations or join a group. “Grieving people do not need fixing. They just need support as they find the tools and skills to move forward and heal,” she adds. “One stalk of wheat is easily broken, whereas a handful of straws is much harder to break.”

Read about AMA member, geologist Dr. Dale Leckie.