On Monday, 24 May London Blossom Garden at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was opened as a living memorial to the impact of COVID-19 on our capital.
The public garden symbolises how London is mourning, individually and collectively, with loss and death impacting so many families, friends, partners, colleagues and frontline staff. A total of 33 blossoming trees have been planted to create the new public garden to represent all London boroughs and the City of London.
Many Londoners have experienced very sudden and traumatic loss during the pandemic. As we begin to recover, for many people across London life has changed and there will be no ‘return to normal’.
Bermondsey Square is supporting a new public awareness campaign, In loving memory of Londoners lost. The campaign aims to get London talking about grief and bereavement, reflect upon the scale of loss felt across our city during the pandemic, remember those we have lost, and support loved ones left behind.
More than 19,000 people have died in London as a direct result of COVID-19. For every death, around five people are closely affected, meaning nearly 100,000 Londoners are grieving the recent loss of someone close to them to COVID-19.
This number doesn’t include Londoners grieving someone who died elsewhere, or of other causes, but whose bereavement has equally been disrupted. Londoners are mourning huge loss from the pandemic, with some communities and areas of London experiencing this even more acutely.
Bereavement can be lonely
As a society, we do not talk openly about death, making it harder for people to access support. And it can be difficult to know how to comfort somebody who is grieving. The campaign is a chance to remember loved Londoners lost, and show we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who mourn them.
Mike Lewis, spokesperson for Bermondsey Square said: “We’re pleased to support the In loving memory of Londoners lost campaign to raise awareness of all aspects of grief and loss. By thinking and talking more about how we are feeling, we will help each other to get through this crisis.”
Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE, mental health equalities advisor for NHS England and co-lead of Thrive LDN, added: “Now is the right time to reflect upon the scale of loss and death which is still being felt. Lockdown restrictions have made bereavement much harder, and research has shown the experience of Covid grief to be worse than other types of grief. As a result, we can expect many more people to require extra support.”
Philip Glanville, the Mayor of Hackney and co-lead of Thrive LDN, said: “Grief can feel very lonely, and for many the grief experienced from Covid has been even more complex as our collective ways of remembering those we have lost have also been so altered by social distancing and lockdown. As a society, we shy away from speaking about death. As a result, bereaved people can find it hard to understand what they are going through, and to get the help they need, when they need it. And it can be difficult to know how to comfort somebody who is grieving.
“Nothing will make losing someone any easier, but we can support Londoners to talk about grief and bereavement, so that people can find the support to get through it and know where to go if they need extra help.”
More Information and Support
Find out more about the campaign and available support from Thrive LDN’s website: www.thriveldn.co.uk/bereavement.
Support for our Local Community
The Bermondsey Square Community Fund awards grants of up to £2,500 for projects which will benefit the people of Bermondsey.About the Community Fund