Isolation in our increasingly connected world seems so alien; mentally we are linked to one another through the technology that we carry with us all day. Yet, physically and emotionally we have never felt so far removed from one another.
This was exacerbated during the lockdown as millions of people were thrust into loneliness, spending endless hours captive in their home, virtually working from an isolated corner, juggling education with the already tricky work-life balance. Add into the mix then, the inability to hug a loved one, unable to celebrate the arrival of a newborn or perhaps comfort those who might have needed that simple connection.
That feeling of isolation is something that so many people collective have never felt before, and hopefully will never feel again, but it is important that as life begins to return to the ‘new normal’ we learn from our collective experience. Remember that feeling of losing our routine, about being removed from our social lives and made to feel utterly alone… This was not felt just by those who were literally on their own. Partners, couples and families who lived together also felt the heightened stress of losing their connection with their outer world.
The greatest impact to our society throughout these periods of isolation were those who tragically lost someone close to them; someone from their circle and from their life. No matter your faith, age or geography, the virus has little bias as its victim. Whether you were infected, symptomatic, asymptomatic, a friend, partner or parent – everyone faced a loss of some form. The most tragic of which were those who faced a loved one gone.
Hundreds of thousands of people right across the UK had their grieving process shattered because they were isolated from their hospitalised loved one, unable to pay respects to their nearest and dearest, not able to bid a final farewell at a proper funeral or even give thanks to their lives with family or friends; it was all removed from their personal tragedy and this needed to be recognised to prevent greater and longer-lasting psychological damage that will be caused by longer grief.
Not so connected
It is so easy to forget and become complacent about our actions and how we all connect with one another, our neighbours and our family; how we take for granted the little interactions in our social bubbles and everyday life.
Thousands cut from their work life, stringing together normality from their kitchen table or balancing laptops on their literal laps on the bed, making do with social interaction from a screen to our colleagues and loved ones.
Will this make us consider the absolute necessity for human interaction on our mental health or will corporations see how they can make this work for their benefit, to push people into this permanent environment because it saves on space…. possibility, it is probably too soon to tell but it is clear that we need a digital and physical world balance, forgot home-work life that has become even more blurred but if we don’t do something about the isolation we will all start to suffer the same psychological withdraws as those who have had to overcome bereavement. We will grieve the human touch and closeness that we all felt just two years ago.
Support Out There
During the past year it is clear that there are hundred, thousands even, of groups, organisation and charities that have been established and here to support us in whatever we going through. Usually the hardest part is taking that step and realising you might been that help in the first place and the next barrier is knowing where to turn.
The Forest of Memories is one these groups born out of the pandemic, taking difficult times personally specifically to remember, reflect and rebuild together. A way to give back to all those who lost the most during the pandemic, with the purpose to recover together as a nation and on our own.
We are proudly offering all those who lost someone during the pandemic a tree in memory of a loved one taken too soon, a Memory-Tree. The Forest of Memories wants to remember and commemorate all those individuals taken too soon in a place of permanent natural memorial across the country.
These branches of forests will be planned across different regions and to different scales, so all 154,811 people lost to Covid-19 will never, be forgotten. These forests will have a natural spiritual or symbolic resting place close to homes and hearts of those left behind somewhere where families, friends and communities can find solace knowing that their memories will live on through the planting of a tree.
National Day of Reflection
A few months ago The Forest of Memories hosted an event that supported Marie Curie and the National Day of Reflection. It was an opportunity to highlight their vision and share publicly that we should all be using this time to reflect on who we are, what was given and what was taken during the pandemic.
This Forest of Memories tied thousands of golden ribbons to trees on the grounds of the National Trust Runnymede, Surrey, a site of cultural and historical importance and part of the memorialisation across the beautiful landscape. One ribbon for one life.
They were symbols of the loss that was felt across the country and the team spent days handwriting the names of everybody who dedicated a tree in memory of their loved one lost during the pandemic, this is still something they are doing to this day and we are happy to be part of this journey.
Picnics + Reflection
More recently we proudly hosted the ‘Picnics and Reflection’ event. Designed to offer local supporters a safe green space to speak to people who have also been thrust into loss, into a grieve spiral in complete surprise and with no time to mentally prepare for bereavement.
The actual Picnics + Reflection event was conceived and designed for those families and friends who were unable to hold traditional funerals, we’re unable to mourn their loss or had no opportunity to hold a wake to remember and celebrate the life of their loved one who is gone.
The 14th of August 2021 was a day that allowed bereaved individuals, families and friends to come together at a safe, social-distanced picnic; to enjoy the fresh air and tranquillity that is found at the historic and memorial area at National Trust Runnymede, while also opening up to share memories and stories of those love ones.
Space to Breath & Time to Reflect
Nature is a source of comfort for all of us, whether that is our gardens, local parks or community spaces. Now seems like a perfect time to give something back to help us all recover from the recent past and look to the future with positivity.
We hope that you will support The Forest of Memories in dedicating a tree in remembrance for that person you have lost or sharing it with someone who might appreciate that support and gesture.
Support is out there, if you need to talk please find some helpful resource below:
Bereavement Starting Point – At A Loss .org
Caring for someone dying – Marie Curie
Need to talk – Samaritans
The Forest Of Memories Discussed on Radio Woking