Since the first UK Covid-19 lockdown began in 2020, millions have been bereaved. The National Day of Reflection, coordinated by the charity Marie Curie and officially supported by the Church of England, has designated a day to reflect on collective loss and grief exactly one year since the first lockdown was called last March.
In January, the Church of England commissioned some research on how people have responded to the deaths of loved ones this year. We now know that there were 7% more deaths in 2020 than expected, and 40% of us have experienced the death of someone close to us. One painful aspect of this, was that over 70% of those who experienced someone’s death were not able to attend their funeral. Most of us agree that people haven’t been able to say goodbye properly or fulfil funeral wishes. Covid has not only deprived us of life, due to the necessary guidance around social distancing and face coverings, many people feel Covid has deprived us of the means to comfort others and be comforted in return. Added to this, many families have opted for direct cremations for the deceased – preferring to save money and stress by not organising a service or gathering to mark a person’s life. This may offer short term gains of a sort, but the long term mental and spiritual losses of not grieving at an appropriately staged, dignified funeral for a loved one are likely to be very high.
Whatever your personal story with loss over this year, can I invite you to spend some time, even just a minute or a moment, on Tuesday this week turning to God in prayer for those who mourn. Our 8.30am Facebook Morning Prayer service will centre on this theme and will then be made available on YouTube for anyone to engage with in their own time. St John’s bells will toll at midday as people are encouraged to stop and pause around the nation at this time. At 8pm, others are choosing to place candles in their windows in memory of those who have died. Please see below in the newsletter for more details of support available for the bereaved.