Since the first UK Covid-19 lockdown began in 2020, millions have been bereaved. The National Day of Reflection, coordinated by the charity Marie Curie and officially supported by the Church of England, will designate a special day to reflect on collective loss and grief. Local churches can also participate. Here’s how.
On 23 March 2021, it’ll be one year since the first UK lockdown. Since then, millions of people have been bereaved, both as a result of Covid-19 and due to other causes. The restrictions we’ve all been living under have meant that many people have had to grieve without the comfort of having friends and family around them.
Marie Curie, a charity which supports people around the event of a terminal diagnosis, has organised a National Day of Reflection to acknowledge grief and loss over the last year. The national Church of England is one of several organisations supporting it, and the Life Events team will provide some additional, bespoke resources for parishes to use if they want to join in.
What will be happening on the Day of Reflection?
There will be a minute’s silence at 12 noon on 23 March to create a moment that shows support for the millions of people who’ve been bereaved. It might also be a day to connect with someone who is grieving. This might be in simple ways such as having a chat with them, sending a card, a message, or giving them some spring flowers.
How can our church be involved?
These are several suggestions for how you might join in as a church – even just doing one or two things will help the whole campaign to reach bereaved people in your community.
- Design your service on March 21st so that details about the Day of Reflection can be included – worship and prayer resources are provided below so you have a range of things to choose from.
- Put up posters to raise awareness – there are free ones to download, see below under resources.
- Publicise the day through your usual channels – social media, newsletters, service notices, etc. There are specially re-sized social media graphics for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram available to download from the campaign website.
- If you can, make arrangements for the church’s bell to be tolled for one minute at noon on the day.
- Email or print off and send a prayer postcard to anyone and everyone to use at home on that day – you can download a free one, see below under resources.
- Encourage people to phone or send a card to anyone who may feel bereaved, everyone knows someone: six out of ten adults have lost someone in the last year where they would have attended the funeral. Four out of ten say they have lost someone close to them.
- Signpost bereaved people to ataloss.org where they can find help in their grief – simply add the website address to your usual communications or mention it as part of your Day of Reflection service.
- Involve the local school and encourage them to use the simple prayer at noon or to colour daffodil cards and deliver them to a local care home.
- Invite people to plant a seed, a bulb, a bush as a sign of hope
- Invite people to tie yellow ribbons to a prayer tree or railings as sign of their prayer and support for all who are bereaved
- Contact your local media to see if you can go and talk about grief and loss. You can share with them recent Church of England research that shows two thirds of people definitely expect the church to be there for those who want to talk.
- Light a special candle in the church and say the prayer – film it with your camera and share on social media
- Use the 8.00pm ‘share the light’ moment to light candles and lanterns in windows
- Open your church for private prayer on that day, if you are able.
- Re-share any posts about it from the national Church of England and Marie Curie FaceBook and Instagram pages.
You might like to share this BSL prayer video from your social media account or include it as part of your online services:
What resources are available?
You might like to use either of these specially written prayers:
Be with us as we think about all that has changed this year,
And help us to trust that you are always with us.
Be close to us as we remember those who have died,
And help us to trust they are at peace with you.
Show us how to reach out to others with kindness and care ,
So that hope shines out in every heart and home,
God of Love,
As we think about all that has changed this year,
help us to trust that you are always with us.
As we remember those who have died,
help us to trust they are at peace with you.
As we reach out to others with kindness and care,
may hope shine out in every heart and home.
- Download a liturgical resource: An Act of Prayer for individuals or households
- Download suggested formal prayers and Collect
- Download more suggested prayers for intercessions for March 21st services.
- Download a bespoke hymn, gifted by the Cathedral Chapter in the Diocese of Carlisle.
- Download a free Poster and Prayer Card here. With both colour and black and white versions available, you can either email them or print them off.
- There is a toolkit of logos and graphics on the Marie Curie website that you can download as you begin to plan your involvement.
- This Prayer Colouring Sheet can be used for both children and adults (link open s PDF): DayofReflection-ColourIn
- For your own reflection on how restricted funerals in the last year have impacted on grief, and how your church can develop its support for bereaved people beyond the Day of Reflection, read Sandra Millar’s blog.
- Signpost bereaved people to ataloss.org where they can find organisations that offer help in their grief – simply add the website address to your usual communications or mention it as part of your Day of Reflection service.
Watch Marie Curie’s short film, this can also be shared from your social media accounts:-