Today sees a National Day of Reflection, led by Marie Curie – an opportunity to come together to reflect on our collective loss and support those of us who have been bereaved. Here, those connected with the charity explain exactly why they are taking part
Senior Marie Curie Nurse Tassia Ioannou is the Infection Control and Prevention Lead for Eastern Region:
‘I am participating in the national day of reflection to pay tribute to all my fellow nurses, carers, support workers and healthcare professionals. Some of those which we have lost during our fight against Covid-19, some which has lost loved ones and others which have faced more death and dying than they ever prepared for. Life has been challenging for everyone and I just want to remember how strong everyone has been and to say thank you to those who have gone above and beyond for the greater good.’
Marie Curie supporter Laura:
‘My mum and I will be lighting a candle in the window and following events online to mark a year of COVID and all those who have lost their lives during the pandemic. We are also saying thank you to all health and social care staff, including the Marie Curie nurses who have continued to work tirelessly at this very difficult time.’
Irene and Laura were inspired to raise funds for Marie Curie, following the nursing support Irene’s brother received from Marie Curie 30 years ago when he was dying from bowel cancer and because of the research project being carried out in her home city of Norwich. This research could help Irene in the future. Irene and Laura hold an annual Blooming Great Tea Party and help at collections throughout the year. Irene remembers: ‘The nurse came and said to me you can go and have a break and a rest, even if you can’t sleep properly, you can have a break knowing I am here’.
Irene has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease which is thought to have developed after materials she was exposed to during her working life. Being a Norwich based citizen and living with COPD, Irene was pleased to hear that Marie Curie was funding research at the University of East Anglia into supporting people living with the disease and that this research has now expanded to all terminal illnesses.
Marie Curie has been working closely with UEA Associate Director of Research, Morag Farquhar, over the past 10 years on different projects and more recently the SNAP (Support Needs Approach for Patients) project, supporting patients with COPD and other terminal illnesses to support person-centred care for progressive conditions. SNAP is an intervention which has been developed to help people with progressive incurable conditions identify and communicate.
Cllr Ian Sherwood serves Swaffham at Breckland Council:
‘It has been a difficult 12 months for all of us with the pandemic affecting all our lives. The Marie Curie Day of Reflection is an opportunity for all of us to reflect upon the last year. We may have lost a loved one or known someone in our community who has died, it may have been because of Covid-19 or other causes, and we may not have been able to attend their funeral. So, on Tuesday we have decided to illuminate our home in Sporle, near Swaffham, yellow. The National Day of Reflection is a chance to reflect on our collective loss, support those who’ve been bereaved, and to hope and look forward to better days to come. I hope in some small way our home being illuminated yellow will show we are all thinking about each other and remembering those who have died.’
Susan Whymark of Susan Whymark Funeral Service:
‘We are taking part today to support Marie Curie in their National Day of Reflection to remember those who we have lost during the last year since lockdown. It has been an incredibly hard year for everyone but for those who have lost a loved one during this time, it has been doubly so. Bereavement can usually be quite isolating but when you have possibly been isolated from your whole family, the deceased before they passed or haven’t been able to be with them at their passing the effects can be and have been devastating.
‘As most people know, funerals have been far from what is usually expected. During the last year we have seen funerals go from six mourners in attendance to 15 to 30, and some were only allowed a graveside service as we saw churches shut and some families chose to not mark the occasion with a chance that they could have a larger gathering later in the year.
‘As a funeral service we have been helpless to look after our families in the way we normally would so we thought we would use this day to engage with our community and acknowledge we support them.’
Helen Chapman, Marie Curie Community Fundraiser and Business Support in the East of England:
‘I’ll be remembering my mum Josie on our national day of reflection. Mum had diabetes and was given two years to live in January 2015 due to kidney failure, a complication of diabetes. I personally couldn’t cope with the countdown of those two years and went through a lot of anticipatory grief knowing what was coming yet she seemed to take it in her stride and kept so positive throughout. She was an amazing person and nearly three and a half years on I am now coping much better. It’s true when they say time does help. I will always miss her terribly and I can really relate to one of our day of reflection adverts, ‘chairs’, which Ed Sheeran’s has kindly donated the music to. On my 40th birthday meal there was one space at the table that should have been for mum and I found that meal incredibly difficult to get through. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose a loved one during the pandemic and will be thinking of everyone who has ever lost someone.’
CEO of Marie Curie, Matthew Reed:
‘We need to mark the huge amount of loss we’ve seen this year and show support for everyone who has been bereaved – be that from Covid or any other cause.’
For information about today please visit: https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/get-involved/day-of-reflection
(Featured image: Senior Marie Curie Nurse Tassia Ioannou, wearing her face shield)