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World News

Churches can play a key role in working through grief, as UK's annual Day of Reflection announced

by Ros Mayfield

An annual 'Day of Reflection' has been announced in the UK, following a recommendation by the Commission on Covid Commemoration. 

Lives lost during the pandemic will be remembered on the first Sunday in March, beginning this year.  Churches will be involved, and are encouraged to play a part.

The Christian bereavement charity, At A Loss offers material and support to those dealing with grief, as well as guiding people through the steps that come with adjusting to a loss.

CEO the Rev Canon Yvonne Tulloch tells Premier why some of the lives lost during lockdown were so hard to grieve properly:

"Those who were bereaved in the pandemic are in very difficult circumstances over their grief, because people weren't necessarily afforded the opportunity of a funeral service, or to say goodbye to loved ones when they could have done."

She says coming together with the intention to remember a loved one who's no longer with us, can be very helpful.

"It helps people to reach the point of acceptance.  Grief is not linear... but acceptance is a really important part of the grief journey because it enables us to access those feelings."

Tulloch says our discomfort with death in British culture is "almost unique" to the UK.  In her view it stems from the two World Wars, when many communities and survivors opted to bury their feelings rather than process them, in the face of the continuing conflict, and such high numbers of deaths.

At A Loss recently developed a seven-week 'Bereavement Course' which takes place online, and is now being run in 300 churches across the UK.

The Day of Reflection, on 3 March this year, follows the first such event, organised by the Marie Curie charity, in 2021, on the one-year anniversary of the first lockdown.

It's primarily designed for people to pause and remember all those who died during the pandemic; but Yvonne says it can also be used by anyone wanting to take time to reflect on a loss.  The Commission recommends that the event be held each year, in a similar way to Remembrance Sunday.

The Government is putting up more than £500,000 towards costs, promotion and community events on the day, and a minute's silence will be held at midday.

Other recommendations by the commission included schoolchildren being taught about people's experiences in the pandemic, and identifying green spaces across the UK for use as memorial areas.

Ways to observe the day can be found at dayofreflection.org.uk 

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