Petal from wall of reflection

Richmond remembers pandemic loss for Day of Reflection

The Richmond community are remembering lives lost during the Covid-19 pandemic with a wall of reflection for the fourth annual Day of Reflection this Sunday.

The wall, hanging poignant written messages dedicated towards loved ones, has been placed in end-of-life charity Marie Curie’s Richmond shop to encourage individuals to commemorate those lost during the pandemic.

The Day of Reflection was established in 2021 by the charity, who observed a vital need to mark both the lives lost during the pandemic and those left bereaved.

Given the pandemic’s restrictions, many were forbidden from attending funerals or saying goodbye to dying loved ones in person.

Marie Curie spokesperson Ashley Balachandran said: “The emotional pandemic isn’t over, and this day really validates that.

“It gives people permission to acknowledge their loved ones, and others around them to acknowledge it too.”

SPACE TO REFLECT: Marie Curie’s Richmond Wall of Reflection

While the shop has only received ten submissions to its wall so far, Andree Martin, the shop’s manager, has stressed the campaign’s importance and attributes these small submission numbers to the slowness of people visiting the shop at this time of year.

Balachandran also believes that this is likely to be indicative of individuals increasingly wanting to mark the day by either joining an event or choosing to mark it privately.

Mavis Martin, an Anna Chaplain from Bridgend, who works closely with elderly individuals affected by the pandemic, believes that the Day of Reflection is vital in acknowledging specifically widespread pandemic-related guilt and anger.

She said: “A lot of people who were in care homes have this pain and bitterness where they feel that they were thrown to the wolves, and nobody was held accountable.

“Nurses who cared for people in the pandemic are still suffering moral injuries where they knew that they couldn’t provide the care that they would have liked because of the situation.” 

Martin also noted that many are reluctant to engage with bereavement charities in fear of judgement and that there is a resounding feeling of abandonment by the government in the pandemic’s aftermath.

She said: “Many of the people I work with who have lost loved ones think that they are forgotten so this day of reflection is so significant because it says to those people that we choose to remember. 

“We owe it not only to the people who have died but we also owe it to the families that are still struggling.”

The day transitioned this year from its previous annual date of 23 March to 3 March due to recommendations by the UK Commission on Covid Commemoration which was set up in July 2022 to help determine the nationwide remembrance of the pandemic. 

The commission also recommended that a COVID Commemoration Trust be established to help aid the continued grieving and remembrance process.

A number of events are occurring across London on Sunday to commemorate the Day of Reflection, including a minute’s silence at the Science Museum at 12pm and a light up of the National Covid Memorial Wall along the Southbank between 11am and 1pm.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport and Marie Curie have encouraged the nation to observe a minute’s silence at 12pm on Sunday.

Featured Image Credit: Marie Curie Photography

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