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A National Day of Reflection

by Michael Ford last modified 19 Mar, 2021 07:15 PM

The majority of mourners during the pandemic have been unable to say goodbye properly, and Church of England cathedrals and parishes are preparing to mark a National Day of Reflection on Tuesday 23rd March, the anniversary of the first Covid lockdown.

More than half of young adults have lost someone close to them over the past year, with this age group most active in helping to comfort the bereaved and organise funerals, according to new research on the impact of the pandemic published today by the Church of England.

People aged between 18 and 29 years old have been worst affected by bereavement since the first lockdown last year, with 51% reporting they lost someone close to them during this period compared to 31% of people aged 60 or above, a survey commissioned by the Church of England has shown.

In spite of this, a 54% majority of 18-29s reported that they had been active in helping others cope with bereavement compared to 26% of people aged 60 or above. More than a quarter of young adults said they had helped organize a funeral in the last year compared to 7% of the older age group.

The online survey of more than 2,000 adults showed that nearly three quarters of people – more than seven in 10 - who wanted to attend a funeral over the past year were unable to do so because of the pandemic.

The vast majority of mourners, 89%, said that people had not been able to say goodbye properly to those who have died, while a similar proportion, 84%, said that people had not been able to fulfil the funeral wishes of the person who died. Overall, 4 in 10 people said they had lost someone close to them since March 2020 from any cause, including Covid-19.

The majority of those surveyed said they believed the Church of England should provide both outdoor and indoor spaces for quiet reflection and prayer for those coping with death, dying and grief.

The findings have been released as Church of England cathedrals and parishes prepare to help mark the National Day of Reflection on Tuesday 23rd March, marking the first anniversary of lockdown.

Bishop Nicholas said:

“This year has been exceptionally hard for the bereaved, while those in ministry in the Diocese have done a wonderful job being alongside those who have lost loved ones, they have also found it a great source of frustration and sadness when they have been unable to offer a Christian farewell that allows relatives and friends to gather and comfort each other.

“This National Day of Reflection will give us all the opportunity to stop and remember all those who have lost loved ones during this difficult time and what that has meant for them. It will also allow us to pray together for them allowing them to know just how much they are in our thoughts.”

The National Day is being led by the Marie Curie charity, supported by organisations including the Church of England. Churches and cathedrals are being encouraged by the Central Council of Church Bellringers (CCCBR) to toll a bell at the end of the minute’s silence at midday on 23rd March.

Revd Canon Dr Sandra Millar, who heads the Church of England’s work on funerals, said:

“During this last year so many people have been unable to find comfort in their grief from being with others at a funeral or to hear a message of hope spoken.

“It has been particularly hard on many younger adults experiencing loss, perhaps for the first time, of grandparents and older relatives who may have been a key part of their lives. But our recent research also shows that under-30s are leading the way in reaching out to those who are bereaved with practical help and support."

The National Day of Reflection has received backing from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishop of Portsmouth, who is chair of the Churches Funeral Group.

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