3 March 2021
James Sunderland encourages people to take a moment to remember - Covid Memorial Day, 5 March


“A moment to remember…a moment to grieve”

On 5 March 2020, the BBC reported that a 70-year-old woman in the Royal Berkshire Hospital had become the first Briton to die of COVID-19.

Exactly one year and so many deaths on, Covid Memorial Day will be a moment for Britain’s to take a moment to grieve.

Why is it important?

Shakespeare writes: “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers o-er wrought heart and bids it break” and all grief experts agree that it is vital for grief to be witnessed.

If it is not expressed and recognised, grief can turn to anger and depression. Sharing the pain of loss is an important stage in the grieving process and moments of collective grief are particularly powerful.

Virtually every nation that has had large numbers of Covid deaths have held national memorials. Spain, for example, had a 10-day period of remembrance period and last month, the first thing that Joe Biden did was to hold a national Covid Memorial Day. The reaction of so many Americans after the event was: “I hadn’t realised just how much I’d needed to grieve”.

What will happen on the day?

Events throughout the day will build to a minute’s silence at 7pm when people will also light candles in their windows or hold socially distanced candle lit vigils outside their houses.

Covid Memorial Day was set up by Amnesty International’s Stefan Simanowitz with support from a small team of people including people bereaved by COVID.

“Over the last year many of us have been touched by grief either directly or indirectly and collective grieving is important both for our own mental well-being as well as being support for others. Covid Memorial Day is a day when you can light a candle, take a pebble to the top of a hill or simply sit and reflect on those you have lost. A united moment when we can all acknowledge and express our personal of loss as well as the share grief of so many others.” (Behavioural psychologist, Jo Hemmings, who is helping with Covid Memorial Day)

“We have very public mourning for the awful random multiple deaths of major accidents and acts of terrorism. Quite right too. The Covid deaths are just numbers. No collective public mourning for tens of thousands of deaths.” (Michael Rosen tweeting his support for Covid Memorial Day)

“It is important to remember that grief is the collateral damange of love. If you have not loved, you cannot great and the more you deeply you love, the more painful the grief. Shakespeare warns that if we fail to ‘give sorrow words the grief will o-er wrought heart and bid it break’. Covid Memorial Day is a day to give our sorrow words.” (Stefan Simanowitz, journalist/Co-ordinator of Covid Memorial Day).