Religious Leaders back ‘National Day of Reflection’

Religious leaders from across different faiths have asked the public to join them in a national day to remember those who have died from any cause during the pandemic – being held on Tues 23 March – and to show support for everyone who has been bereaved. 

Spearheaded by the charity Marie Curie and supported by the Together Coalition, over 200 organisations are already behind the National Day of Reflection and today 82 prominent leaders from religious groups including the Buddhist Society, British Sikh Nurses, Professional Women of Faith, Catholic Union, the Islamic Society of Britain, the Church of England, Commonwealth Jewish Council and Interfaith Matters have signed an open letter backing the day.

As faith leaders we know how important the ability to grieve properly is and how high the cost will be of our inability to do that. While we can’t turn back time, we can build opportunities to mourn as a nation. That’s why this Tuesday (23 March) – on the anniversary of the first lock down – we are asking the nation to join us in doing two things. To take a minute to reflect by taking part in the nationwide silence at noon, and then take a moment to connect; to reach out to someone you know is grieving and who might like your support.

“Each person we remember on this Day is special, loved by us and by God. We can’t fully take

away the pain felt over the last year, but we can take a moment to reflect and to connect with others to remind ourselves that we are there for each other.”

Julie Siddiqui, founder of Together we Thrive, who coordinated the letter said:

“As people of faith embedded in our communities, we have seen first-hand the scale of the loss over the past year. We have comforted so many who have lost so much. 

“As a society we can’t fix that now, but we can make clear that we hold them in our hearts and prayers. That’s why this day is so crucial. A signal that we care about each other’s loses, but also encouragement to reach out and provide whatever healing balm we can. One of the few positives to come out of this crisis has been feeling more connected to our communities – if we are to deal with this new epidemic of grief we must now build on that.”

The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, Bishop of London, said:

“This pandemic has taken so much from so many of us. Not just our loved ones, but our ability to grieve in our normal ways, surrounded by friends and family. But alongside all of the pain, the pandemic has also given us something, a renewed sense of community and a sense that we are looking out for each other. On the 23rd of March please join us in marking both of these. Reflecting on those we have lost, but also reaching out to connect with those who have survived and will need our support and love in the coming weeks and months.”

The National Day of Reflection is being held on 23 March 2021 – the anniversary of the UK going into the first national lockdown. As part of the day the public are being encouraged to do two things; to join a minute’s silence at 12 noon and take a moment to reach out to someone they know is grieving.  The day will also be marked by bells tolling at 12:01, and prominent buildings and iconic landmarks will light up at 8pm across the UK.

Since the pandemic began, many have been unable to say goodbye or grieve properly. The growing movement of charities, faith groups, member organisations, businesses and politicians who are supporting the day hope that it will allow people to remember those who have died, both from coronavirus and other causes, and bring people together to pause, reflect and support each other, as we look with hope to the future.

Full Letter – signed by 82 religious leaders (list of signatories in editors’ notes)

When we think of death, we think about faces we won’t see again, voices we won’t hear, people

we will miss. We think of our own losses and grief. But during this crisis we have become used to

talking about death through numbers.

The scale of our losses make that understandable – but for each individual death there is a circle

of grief and loss. Over 125,000* people have died over the last year with Covid -19 and in all

650,000 people have died during this period. Each and every one will have loved ones,

colleagues, friends and families grieving for their loss. While the numbers help us understand the

scale of what we are experiencing collectively, they give us no understanding of the depth and

meaning of each loss.

The grief felt by so many – no matter what the cause – has been made even harder to bear by our

inability to grieve and celebrate a life collectively.

For many they have not been able to be there with those they loved and cared for at the end of

their lives. We haven’t been able to comfort with a hug or mark a death with the full rituals of our

cultures and faiths.

As faith leaders we know how important the ability to grieve properly is and how high the cost will

be of our inability to do that. While we can’t turn back time, we can build opportunities to mourn

as a nation. That’s why this Tuesday (23 March) – on the anniversary of the first lock down – we

are asking the nation to join us in doing two things. To take a minute to reflect by taking part in the

nationwide silence at noon, and then take a moment to connect; to reach out to someone you

know is grieving and who might like your support.

Each person we remember on this Day is special, loved by us and by God. We can’t fully take

away the pain felt over the last year, but we can take a moment to reflect and to connect with

others to remind ourselves that we are there for each other.

The National Day

The National Day of Reflection, which the movement hopes will become an annual event, will see; a nationwide minute of silence at 12 noon, followed by bells tolling at 12:01, and prominent buildings and iconic landmarks will light up at 8pm across the UK.

Alongside this will be community-led initiatives such as virtual reflective assemblies, choirs, special services, candle and lantern lighting on doorsteps, yellow ribbons wrapped around trees, and many other commemorative activities that will bring people together – in adherence with social distancing rules.

On the day, there will be a series of free online talks and conversations featuring expert panels, bereaved families and celebrities throughout the afternoon of 23 March, produced by the Good Grief Festival.2

To find out more about the National Day of Reflection visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/dayofreflection.

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