The National Day of Reflection is being coordinated by Marie Curie and supported by very many organisations including the Church of England. Covid-19 is still very much present with increasing infection rates and a second Omicron variant on the rise. Friends who have volunteered at vaccine centres are expecting to be back in action in just a couple of weeks.
So why have such a day? Why has this particular coronavirus precipitated a day to remember the people we know or have looked after who did not survive the infection? After all, people die of cancer, heart and lung diseases, dementia and many other causes each and every day and continue to do so. It will be right to remember all those people who died during the pandemic of causes other than covid because in very many cases, how they died and how they were mourned was affected by the restrictions we all observed to protect both ourselves and others.
That is the first and perhaps most important reason to have this designated day. We can, at last, come together again in person to share memories and stories, to grieve, and to comfort although many will still be nervous of sharing a hug. Regardless of government pronouncements and policies, there is still uncertainty about what a new normal looks like. Spontaneity has been stolen.
I suspect we still do not really understand what it means for the entire world to be simultaneously threatened by a single cause; even previous ‘world’ wars did not achieve that and the influenza pandemics of the early twentieth century were restricted by the lack of international travel that we have recently considered so normal. Climate change, the risk of nuclear accident and the resumption of the Cold War, and risk of nuclear attack need consideration of decisions for how we live in the future. Perhaps the complacency that accompanied our access to education and health care, clean water, and adequate food needed to be shaken when even our own country sees increasing use of food banks.
Meanwhile, if the pain of the last two years is still too raw for you to need any reminder and you need to guard your own vulnerability, then Wednesday will be a day to perhaps try and stay home to avoid buildings lit up yellow or a local wall of reflection and events organised by a workplace. It is okay not to want to join in if it will not help you and to stay away from all social media for that day.