• Aziz Merchant, BHMS,MDHom

A year later, still aching for Stuart McLean and The Vinyl Café


Today, it will be a year since Stuart McLean passed away on 15 Feb 2017. I was a big fan of Stuart’s. I will always rue the fact that I never attended his famed Christmas Concert.


In case you do not know of this Canadian icon, Stuart was a connoisseur of storytelling, a captivating radio broadcaster, humorist, monologist, three-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Memorial medal for humor (Stephen Leacock was one of my favorite writers too) , and a member of the Order of Canada. I was hooked on to his story series, the Vinyl Café hosted by CBC and presented live at his annual Christmas Tour.

I vividly recall that dreary winter day in 2010, when I was fresh off the boat, struggling to establish a private Homeopathic practice, trying to network with other practitioners while I handed out my resumes to pharmacies in the hopes of working as a Pharmacy technician. It was one of those challenging days, and on my way home I flicked on the radio in my car and happened upon an amazing episode of The Vinyl Café, and the story was “The hairdresser”. All the comedy of errors in the story’s plot and realizing how hypochondriac Dave could be, just made my day! I was hooked, so to speak. I looked forward to this broadcast every weekend afternoon religiously. I started perceiving each character in the light of Homeopathic Materia medica, guessing their constitutional remedy and coming up with rubrics for each one of them. What struck me the most was Stuart’s concept that the world is a good place, full of good people, trying to do their best. He believed in people’s extraordinary capacity for love and generosity. And this was reflected in his stories, and his stories were full of characters that you and I could relate to. And I believed him, and I am glad I did, because it reaffirmed my belief in myself and the difference that I was able to make in my patient’s lives with the help of Homeopathy.

I was deeply saddened by Stuart’s death. And on his first death anniversary, I can gather the courage required to put the word out, that there are potent and natural methods to help cope with grief.

Losing a loved one is traumatic. I have always found myself at a loss of words, trying to extend condolences to the bereaving, but have found myself to be instrumental in helping my patients get through their difficult times. There is no right or wrong way to grieve the death of your loved one. It is a very personal feeling and each individual is affected at different depths and develops coping mechanisms that suit their situation. Grief can arise from various situations:

  • Death of a loved one

  • From suffering a miscarriage

  • From inability to conceive in sub-fertile and infertile couples

  • Financial loss, career set-backs, being laid off

  • From being deceived

  • From being insulted

  • Break-up of a relationship

  • Parents divorcing

  • Traumatic event

  • Chronic illness

  • Suddenly finding yourself to be an empty nester

  • Living with a family member with terminal illness

  • General dissatisfaction from your life, failure to realize your goals or ambitions or being stuck in a relationship that seems to hamper your true potential.

A quick google search will reveal many Homeopathic remedies that are recommended for combating grief and depression. Remedies like Ignatia amara, Natrum muriaticum, Causticum, Pulsatilla, Phosphoric acid, Staphysagria have different indications and causations. When a Homeopathic physician treats you with constitutional medicine, all he/ she does is carefully and skillfully match your personality type and constitution to an existing database of personality archetypes demonstrated by over 100 polychrest remedies.

WARNING: Following information is for the keen Homeopathic geek that lurks beneath most of us..

Following is a good excerpt of some of the remedies indicated for specific situations or causative factors for grief or sadness, these in Homeopathic terms are called rubrics, that are listed in a Homeopathic Repertory (an index of symptoms/ medical conditions that are recorded in Materia medicas):

Mind; grief; ailments from, agg.; prolonged and unresolved: carc CAUST GELS IGN KALI-BR LACH NAT-M PH-AC

Mind; grief; ailments from, agg.; weep, cannot: aeth am-m apis CARC crot-c GELS ign NAT-M nux-v op puls

Mind; grief; deception, from: AUR IGN LYC NAT-M NUX-V op sep verat

Mind; grief; delivery, parturition, during: caust ign

Mind; grief; fear at night, with: MERC

Mind; grief; financial loss, from: ARN ars AUR mangi MEZ PSOR

Mind; grief; fright, fear agg.: IGN

Mind; grief; fright, fear agg.:

Mind; grief; insults, offenses, after: calc cham ign NAT-M OP

Mind; grief; insults, offenses, after; long past: calc CHAM IGN NAT-M OP

Mind; grief; jealousy, with: HYOS

Mind; grief; losing persons or objects, after: IGN

Mind; grief; love disappointment, from: AUR ign ph-ac staph

Mind; grief; punishment, after: IGN

Mind; grief; trifles, about: ars BAR-C conv GRAPH IGN NAT-M

Mind; grief; condition, illness, about ones: staph

Mind; grief; constant and chronic: caust

Mind; grief; duty, over neglected: cycl

Mind; grief; events, about past: calc cham ign NAT-M op PLAT

Mind; grief; events, about past; long past offenses: calc CHAM IGN NAT-M OP

Mind; grief; silent, pent up: aeth alum ANTHR apis apoc ARG-N ARS AUR aur-ar BENZ-AC bor bufo CACT calc calc-ar calc-s carb-an CARC caust chin chin-s cic clem COFF COLOC GELS graph HELL IGN INDG ip kali-bi lach LED lyc MUR-AC murx nat-c NAT-M nat-s PH-AC PHOS PLAT plb PULS sep staph stront-c sulph VERAT

Mind; grief; silent, pent up; indignation, with: COLOC STAPH

Mind; grief; silent, pent up; submissiveness, with: PULS

Source: The Complete Repertory by Roger Van Zandvoort

If your grief is causing you severe distress, or you are experiencing physical and mental symptoms that affect your work and relationships, then treatment may be required.

Homeopathy does not interfere or stop nature. Rather, it stimulates your own healing power to kick in. Antidepressants are not the solution. Anything that alters brain biochemistry can have deleterious short term and long term effects.

If you feel you or your family member or friend needs help, then please drop me a line at info@doctormerchant.ca

I am open for a supportive dialogue. Sometimes, all it takes is a patient person to hear your heart ache out.


“We do this thing. We open our hearts to the world around us. And the more we do that, the more we allow ourselves to love, the more we are bound to find ourselves one day - like Dave, and Morley, and Sam, and Stephanie - standing in the kitchen of our lives, surrounded by the ones we love, and feeling empty, and alone, and sad, and lost for words, because one of our loved ones, who should be there, is missing. Mother or father, brother or sister, wife or husband, or a dog or cat. It doesn't really matter. After a while, each death feels like all the deaths, and you stand there like everyone else has stood there before you, while the big wind of sadness blows around and through you."- Stuart McLean (1948 - 2017)

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