29 December, 2020 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Global day of remembrance for world’s 1.8 million COVID dead
- 1st January – On the hour, every hour – A day for people around the world to share their collective & personal grief
A year after the COVID-19 hit the world for the first time, people in five continents will come together in a day of collective grief for all those lost to coronavirus in 2020.
Starting in New Zealand (GMT +12) and ending in Hawaii (GMT -12), people will mark #CovidMemorialDay with vigils, services and individual acts of remembrance.
“Over the last year many of us have been touched by grief either directly or indirectly and collective grieving is an important both for our own mental well-being as well as being support for others,” says TV behavioural psychologist, Jo Hemmings, who is helping to coordinate Covid Memorial Day.
“That is why I felt passionately about being part of Covid Memorial Day – a day when you can light a candle, take a pebble to the top of a hill or simply sit and reflect on those you have lost. A united moment when we can all acknowledge and express our personal of loss as well as the share grief of so many others.”
A year after Chinese officials provided information to WHO on the cluster of cases of “viral pneumonia of unknown cause” in Wuhan, people across the world have been subjected to an unending barrage of facts, figures and graphs – charting the ever-rising death toll.
Whilst some nations have had national memorials – Spain for example had a 10-day remembrance period – there has been no global moment to share our collective pain.
Sparked by the recognition that, in the words of grief expert, David Kessler, “grief must be witnessed”, COVID Memorial Day was set up in the UK last summer. A coalition of different individuals, and groups working with bereaved families, NHS staff and older people, came together on 5 September to mark the 6 month anniversary of the death of the first Briton from Covid-19 with services and vigils.
“We have very public mourning for the awful random multiple deaths of major accidents and acts of terrorism. Quite right too. The Covid deaths are just numbers. No collective public mourning for tens of thousands of deaths,” said poet Michael Rosen tweeting his support for Covid Memorial Day.
With New Year being a time for both resolutions and reflecting on the year just gone, New Year’s Day is also an appropriate moment to carve out a global moment to grieve.
Newspaper editors are requested to include some stories of the deceased in their newspapers. Both the New York Times and O Globo in Brazil, devoted their front page in memory of the dead when the death toll hit 100,000.
“It is important to remember that grief is the flip side of love. If you have not loved, you cannot grieve and the more you deeply you love, the more painful the grief,” said Stefan Simanowitz, founder of Covid Memorial Day.
“One doesn’t recover from grief. If you are lucky, you heal from grief. But never completely. Indeed, Shakespeare warns that if we fail to give sorrow words the grief will o-er wrought heart and bid it break. Grief that is bottled up can turn into anger or depression. Covid Memorial Day day is intended to give words to our sorrow.”
Whilst Covid Memorial Day is a single day, it will span 24 time zones – starting at 00.01 in New Zealand and ending at 23.59 in Hawaii.
On the hour every hour, we will take a minute’s silence and livestream events going on around the world or show pre-recorded material submitted from around the world but musicians, actors and the bereaved.
For more information visit www.covidmemorialday.org.uk
To arrange an interview with a spx or with bereaved family members contact email@example.com / +44 7799650791. Please let us know about an event you are organising, email
Follow us on TWITTER – @CovidMemoryDay
INSTAGRAM – @CovidMemorialDay2021
Please note there will be no gatherings/services/vigils in places where COVID-19 levels are deemed below completely safe levels.
Government COVID19 guidance for safe use of places of worship will be strictly followed
People are encouraged to mark the day alone or with their family groups. Videoed messages will be shared on the hour every hour and we welcome readings from actors, poets, and faith leaders as well as performances from musicians
Journalists wanting to attend a “one-in-one-out” #CovidMemorialDay service in an outdoor courtyard in Zone 2, 5.30pm, Hampstead, London, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 07799650791
Other events that media can attend will be posted on the website and the social media feeds
WHO IS BEHIND COVID MEMORIAL DAY?
Like Clap for Carers, #CovidMemorialDay is an idea, not an organisation or a campaign
It was set up by Stefan Simanowitz in July 2020 and he invited various groups to work with him including faith and community groups, bereaved families organisations including:
Hear Our Elders a digital archive project that aims to change the way older people are treated
Covid Memorial Forest Fund that is planting a 80,000 tree forest and The Healthcare Workers’ Foundation, a charity that supports the bereaved families of healthcare workers through counselling, respite care and educational support for the children.
Other COVID memorial events
There are Covid Memorial Day events being arranged by organisations around the world (see www.EndCoronaVirus.org & #WeGrieveTogether).
A UK #CovidMemorialDay – 5 September – with vigils and services around the country. The London service was followed by a candle lit vigil in Trafalgar Sq and around the
In Amsterdam in August, a vigil in Dam Square saw 10,000 candles lit to commemorate each of the Dutch people taken by coronavirus.
PLEASE NOTE: #CovidMemorialDay is an entirely non-political event.
Stefan Simanowitz says: “Whilst we are aware of the highly political debate that has gripped the country over these months, However, like a saloon in a Western, everyone getting involved in Covid Memorial Day is asked to kindly leave their guns at the door.
In countries like Britain, everything about the government’s coronavirus strategy is inextricably entwined with politics, and the government want to avoid association with the dead.