If we cast our mind back 12 months I am sure you will remember we were being introduced to a new world of uncertainty, a confused and socially inept time where we knew next to nothing about the COVID-19 virus, no understanding of the statistics and the information we were being given made little sense.
DID YOU KNOW – The Coronavirus is called COVID because CO for corona, VI for virus, D for disease, and 19 for the year the outbreak was first recognized, late in 2019
This was especially true for the growing number of people who lost people in those early days. Official terminology termed deaths around this time as “due to COVID-19” or “due to Influenza and Pneumonia”, but even those were applied with a blanket motion. Needless to say, for those families and friends who had people snatched from their life they were left largely in the dark, at a time where they should have been able to work through grieving and mourning that loss. Unfortunately, most are still angry and set up their own support groups like ‘Covid 19 Families for Justice‘, ‘Names Not Numbers‘ and many many more who are fighting to be heard.
So long ago
Reflecting on how we as a nation we coped and dealt with the pandemic is very telling in retrospect and it always easy to come back with a ‘this is what we should have done’ attitude but there were some fundamental elements that we should have comprehended and communicated better. Especially knowing that the government and many, if not all the departments have various plans outlined for likely events similar to the pandemic that attacked our world and our country through 2020/21.
Yes, it was a shock but we are a resilient nation and on the back of the plans drawn up from previous outbreaks like Foot-and-mouth, influenza A(H1N1) virus, bird-flu, Spanish flu (H1N1) and SARS we should have done better. Better for the people who were most at risk and better for the people who caught the virus before and in the first wave.
Most importantly, we missed learning the lessons of previous pandemics, which showed that stigma and fear impacted containment, spread and control, apart from their impacts on human suffering which delay detection and treatment efforts. We missed, or miss calculated how an event like this would change peoples behaviour and attitude, not only to key figures and leaders but on each other, discriminating groups, religious and even other countries.
Stigma and the aftermath
The Covid-19 pandemic has social, psychological, mental heal consequences and manifestations that require adequate attention from governments and policymakers. It is important to recognise stigma and discrimination as an important component affecting the mental health and wellbeing of the population.
As vaccines are rolled out and positive action is being taken on the virus, we need to facilitate a strong community mental health program and ensure funding and resource is migrated to benefit the wellness of the nation as part of the total recovery.
We should remember those who have passed but we should make every effort to support those who will be the most greatly affected by the devastation. Being there for the wellbeing of those who will need that psychologic help but also those who will struggle from the economic fallout which will mean continued job losses, grief counselling, housing and shelter issues and food shortages, not only for the now but for many years to come.
Who’s to blame?
Actually, it isn’t the purpose of this blog to point fingers! There are many people that should be accountable, many ways that things should have been different, many actions that could and should have been done to protect our nation but it shouldn’t be on the shoulders of an individual to take that blame and responsibility for this ordeal.
It is my humble option that for the most we have come together, we have followed guidelines, we have stayed at home and kept our distance, but as time goes on and the number of deaths continues to rise, beating records on a daily basis, what is next and when will it end?
The fact that this week marked the tragic milestone of exceeding 100,000 deaths in the United Kingdom it should have been treated with more compassion. We should have symbolised not only those deaths but we should have celebrated those who have come together, to fight the virus directly with the vaccines, administrated the immunisations, getting the country ticking while this invisible killer is still running amuck. Boris Johnson should have taken the opportunity to hear people concerns, listen to the nation and respond with silence.
National Day of Reflection
As part of the recovery is taking that moment to reflect, you may have lost someone close, a member of the family, a friend. You might have suffered silently with your mental health. Perhaps you struggled with homeschooling and juggling life in the containment of a single building. You might have been one of the growing numbers of people who were not simply furloughed through these periods, but actually one of the 1.72 million people who have been left unemployed – Office for National Statistics (ONS) – Dec 2020
Whatever the circumstances you have found yourself in now, however, you dealt with the lockdowns and the pandemic it is important to know you are not alone, you have never been alone, there is so much support if you were to look or ask and we are partnering with Marie Curie to make sure that our nation knows that we are here for each other.
Details to follow but on the 23rd March 2021, we want to bring a national program together that will help people remember the past 12 months, to celebrate all those people who have remained largely unsung heroes and offer you a moment to stop, to reflect, to listen to each other and hopefully move forward together to a more positive future.
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 attract visitors from around the UK and internationally, while also creating jobs and education.
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.
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-Trees page or simply complete the form here.
Completing this information is the next step in the process to plant your tree you dedicated for your loved one in the Forest of Memories.