The Forest of Memories is encouraging people to light a candle and to spend a simple moment of reflection on the year we have endured, think about all those who have suffered in so many ways, and remember those who are no longer with us.
It’s a simple idea that we hope people will engage with. But we believe there is more we need to do as a nation to help the bereaved. Without doing this we cannot see how we can start to recover emotionally next year as a society from the impacts of this pandemic.
So, what can The Forest of Memories do next to help the bereaved?
This is the question we’ve been contemplating. By ourselves, the Forest of Memories is a campaign that will ensure we plant and grow a network of Memorial Forests around the UK. We are gaining support rapidly, with many 1000’s of supporters, including members of parliament, councils, charities and other national bodies, all assisting together in getting land for the Forests or building that one voice.
The support we are gaining means we are confident that we will reach our ambitious objective of planting the Memorial Forests, even if there is some way still to go. But, the Forest of Memories only has a small voice at present in the world. That means we will only reach (maybe) a few hundred thousand people or so with the idea of lighting a candle on 1st Jan, for Covid Memorial Day. It’s enough to bring comfort to many people, but not enough to make the day a truly national event.
Promoting the idea of Covid Memorial Day on the 1st Jan we have always seen as a first step on the road to a full Memorial Day. Raising awareness of the need for a ‘Covid Memorial Day’ is a step towards starting to get people to think about what we can do collectively on a national scale on a more suitable date. A date, maybe, to coincide with the wider roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations and a time when there is more confidence that the pandemic is truly starting to end.
So, to answer the earlier question. What can The Forest of Memories do so we continue our journey to ensure our nation supports those bereaved during this pandemic? We think there are three things right now.
- Continue with the work we are doing to create a network of Forest of Memories as memorial forests. That probably goes without the need to state it of course.
- Build a coalition that will campaign for the holding of a Covid Memorial Day next year.
- Support the above by providing ‘Memory-Tree’ memorial pages to everyone who has so far dedicated a tree to a loved one in The Forest of Memories.
Building a coalition for a Covid Memorial Day
We believe deeply in the idea that our nation needs to put a day aside as a Covid Memorial Day. That day needs to be a truly national collective experience with as many people across the UK involved as possible.
Everyone has lost something or someone during this pandemic, be that from the simple extreme of losing liberty to travel and the freedom to see our family and friends, or the ultimate loss of a loved one passing. Any Covid Memorial Day should therefore be something for everyone to come together and to remember. To show national respect for the 10’s of thousands we lost, to show support for all those they left behind, and also acknowledge the 100’s of thousands left with long-term physical illness or mental wellness issues.
We should really stress here that this is NOT a political campaign but a humanitarian one. People and politicians have all done what they believed they needed to during the Pandemic. Others can question whether what was done was right or wrong, we simply believe that our nation should come together in unity to respect and remember those whose lives have been impacted during this terrible pandemic.
The first thing that The Forest of Memories are doing therefore is reaching out to people and other organisations with the idea of a Covid Memorial Day. We want to form a coalition of groups that together can work on creating Covid Memorial Day for the UK. Someone, somewhere, may already be working on this idea of course. If so, we will support them however we can.
If you, or someone you know, would like to be part of such a coalition that will campaign for a Covid Memorial Day (or if you are already working on this!) please contact us so we can speak about how we can work together to make this happen.
Memory-Tree Memorial Pages
A central part of the creation of the Forest of Memories is that we will plant a tree for every life lost during the Pandemic. Anyone bereaved during this pandemic will be able to dedicate a tree to the loved one they lost. These dedicated trees we are calling ‘Memory-Trees’.
Memory-Trees will be more than just planting a tree. That is of course a wonderful thing to do for anyone but we would like to create a way of capturing, sharing, and keeping memories. And, create a way so people visiting the Forest of Memories in the future can access those memories and see the stories of the lives that are remembered there.
So far, we have enabled people to record with The Forest of Memories that they would like to dedicate a tree. What we will provide now is the next step in the process, the ability for everyone who is dedicating a tree to create an online ‘Memory Page’ as a memorial to their loved one.
These Memory-Pages will, we hope, will provide some comfort to the bereaved by capturing the memories of their loved ones and ensuring a tree will be planed in their name. On a collective scale, we believe that having one place to tell the story for all those we lost to the Pandemic in the UK will make a powerful and emotional statement. That will, we hope, support the campaign to bring people together to get a day next year allocated as Covid Memorial Day.
Creating your Memory-Tree dedication and page
If you dedicated a tree to a loved one before this week, but haven’t yet provided the full information required to create your Memory-Tree page please complete the form here. Completing this information is the next step in the process to plant your tree you dedicated for your loved on in the Forest of Memories.
We will start to publish these Memory Pages on a Memory-Tree website next week.
About The Forest of Memories
The vision for the Forest of Memories is that they will be a place of remembrance and a symbol of national recovery when the first one is opened in 2021. Whilst the short-term goal, however, is one of remembrance, the Forests will become an educational and cultural resource for local communities that attracts visitors from around the UK and internationally, while also creating jobs.
You can learn more about the Forest Plans here. Please give your support to this project, follow us, and spread the word so we can ensure the forest is a shared symbol of remembrance, support for those in need, and of national recovery.