good life, good death, good grief


Truacanta in the Highlands

One of our Shortlisted Communities is a partnership hoping to develop Truacanta work across the Highlands: Karrie Marshall tells us more.

Truacanta is a beautiful Gaelic word describing a sense of compassion and regard for one another. It is the quality of being humane. This is of particular importance when we are experiencing loss, grief and bereavement.

We all recognise how difficult the loss of a pet or a home or a loved one can be. Sometimes we are not sure how best to support one another during these times, even though we will all experience death and dying. This is why conversations are important… to be able to ask questions, or share ideas, or understand people’s needs as well as to be able to celebrate life.

Anne MacDonald at Highland Senior Citizens Network (HSCN) got in touch with Siobhan Neylon at Highland Hospice and Karrie Marshall at Creativity In Care to discuss how we could work together and be part of the Truacanta Project.

All three organisations are in regular contact with people who are living with long term conditions, or receiving care in their family homes, or in group homes. HSCN have Highland-wide Get-Togethers where various issues are discussed, and beneficial ideas are shared. Creativity In Care support family carers as well as individuals and community groups through the arts in health, expressing what matters most in life and in death. Karrie has also lectured in death and dying for care staff and families. The Hospice delivers sensitive education around practical aspects of planning for death and dying. The three organisations value individual and community resilience and will be linking with other organisations.

Initial talks have centred around the importance of

  • listening to what people think about having these conversations
  • finding out what sorts of questions people might have around death, dying, loss and care
  • thinking about what compassionate communities might mean for each of us
  • asking whether people think events that celebrate what matters in life would be helpful

A recent conversation with some of the members of HSCN showed a range of experiences and desires. Caroline Gibb, (Truacanta Project Manager) was there from Edinburgh. Some people have already created lists of important points about future care wishes. Some people would like to have very practical information that is in physical hard copy (not all on-line). Some people wondered whether any of us were qualified to talk about death and dying. Caroline answered the Truacanta view is that every person in the community is qualified to talk about death and dying.

Our next steps are meeting with people in three rural areas of the Highlands to hear more views.

If you'd like to find out more or get involved, you can contact Anne MacDonald on

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Bereavement Charter for Scotland