For the first time in what feels like a very long time, we are breathing a sigh of relief when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. With most of the population vaccinated and all restrictive measures in the UK dropped, we are all eager to return to normality, to live life to the full after enduring so much isolation and time away from our loved ones.
But sadly, there are many of us who cannot reunite with our loved ones. Far too many. The UK National Day of Reflection will be held on Wednesday 23rd March 2022, initiated by Marie Curie. A minute’s silence and a national doorstep vigil will form part of a day of reflection to mark the two-year anniversary of the UK’s first Covid lockdown.
The prime minister advised that he would partake in the minute’s silence at noon privately. Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford are all confirmed to be participating.
Mr Johnson said: “This has been an incredibly difficult year for our country. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones, and who have not been able to pay tribute to them in the way they would have wanted.
Important landmarks and buildings across the UK will also be brightly lit as a sign of respect for those we have lost. Alongside the minute’s silence and doorstep vigil, the day will also see community-led activities take place, such as virtual assemblies, choirs, services and yellow ribbons being wrapped around trees.
The Good Grief Festival will also be running a series of online talks, featuring experts, bereaved families and celebrities. Marie Curie chief executive Matthew Reed said it was “important that we all come together to reflect on our collective loss, celebrate the lives of the special people no longer here, support those who’ve been bereaved and look towards a much brighter future”.
There have been 143,259 deaths recorded in the UK from covid in the last two years, a devastatingly high number. And this does not include those who we have lost from other illnesses like cancer while chemotherapy treatment was suspended at the beginning of the pandemic, or suicide for people whose mental health paid the ultimate price in the pressures of lockdown and isolation.
Now is the time to connect, supporting the millions of people who are grieving, and remembering the family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues we’ve lost during the pandemic. The pain of not being able to process the death of a loved one with the usual social rituals has been especially agonising during this time, grieving in isolation proving harder than ever. Yes, for many of us we are enjoying “normal” again. But 7 million people are still living with the trauma of their loss, without having been able to grieve in typical ways.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of contrition and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving
We need to come together, in our streets, workplaces, schools and communities, as well as with the nation at large, to acknowledge and soothe this pain. Let’s make the legacy of the pandemic years one of compassion, love and active support for those who grieve, both now, and in the years to come.
Please support National Day of Reflection next Wednesday and light a candle for those we will always remember.