Over 10,000 people and a group of cross-party MPs, including former Conservative cabinet ministers Esther McVey and Stephen Crabb, former Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Labour MP and mayor of Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis, and former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, are now backing a charity appeal for a National Day of Reflection and calling on the UK Government to show their support too.
Today marks six months since the UK first went into a nationwide lockdown, in that time over 1.4 million people have experienced a close bereavement, many unable to say goodbye, mark the death of a loved one, or grieve properly.
End of life charity, Marie Curie is spearheading a campaign to hold a National Day of reflection on 23rd March 2021, the first anniversary of the UK going into lockdown. At the peak of the pandemic, lockdown and social distancing measures saw people unable to attend funerals, even for very close relatives and continuing restrictions mean people have not been able to get the support they normally would.
As Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance warns that ‘200-plus deaths per day’ may occur by November, local lockdowns continue and a national lockdown looms, many people still face grieving in isolation, unable to use their usual support networks and the emotional impact of not being able to give loved ones the funeral or ceremony they deserve.
A National Day of Reflection will be for the UK to come together to remember all the people who have died during the lockdown, and to show support and solidarity for those who have been bereaved.
Marie Curie Chief Executive Matthew Reed said:
“The support we’ve had so far shows we cannot simply stand by and not recognise the huge effect the coronavirus and lockdown restrictions have had on people who have been bereaved. In six month’s time, the nation needs to take a moment to come together, to remember, to grieve and to celebrate the lives of everyone who has died in this time.
“As the nation faces the potential of further lockdown measures, we mustn’t forget the thousands and thousands of people who have, and continue to be, bereaved in very difficult circumstances, be that from coronavirus or other causes.”
Jenny Wilson’s mum, Karen, 55, died of throat cancer in March 2020 and her funeral was on the first day of lockdown. The 18-year-old from Belfast quickly adapted the family’s plans which only allowed for immediate family members to say their goodbyes.
In a direct plea to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Jenny said:
“We never got to celebrate or remember my mum the way she deserved to be. I was left to grieve for my mum in lockdown, which was awful because I couldn’t get the support from family and friends that I needed. A national day of grieving is so important to me and many others who have lost a loved one over lockdown. It gives them a chance to properly remember those we’ve lost. That’s why I ask you, Boris Johnson, to join me and thousands of others in supporting this campaign.”
Jenny’s message accompanies a letter being sent to the Prime Minister today.
The day is also being backed by celebrities including Alison Steadman, Paul Chuckle, Chris Kamara and Greg Wise, along with Becky Gompertz, whose family founded the Yellow Hearts movement. The day to reflect will be a dedicated occasion for communities to come together and remember, grieve and celebrate everyone who has died, from coronavirus or another cause.
Marie Curie has been on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic providing care and support to dying people, with and without coronavirus, and those living with a terminal illness. The charity hopes other organisations, will join together to back the day and sign the petition to support all of those who have been bereaved.
Share your support on social media using #UniteInMemory and sign the petition at www.mariecurie.org.uk/nationalday
To access free bereavement support from Marie Curie call free on 0800 090 2309.