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'Remembering our loss': National and local events to commemorate those we have lost during Covid-19

In the government’s new plan on living with Covid-19 is a section on how we mark those who have died during the pandemic.

coronavirus-thu-may-7-2020 Friends and neighbours gather to remember Frank McDonald as his funeral cortege passes Grove Park Avenue in Dublin back in May. Source: PA

IN THE GOVERNMENT’S 60-page document on the plan for us to live with Covid-19 for the next six-to-nine months, there’s a small section called “remembering our loss”.

Amid the importance of fighting the spread of the disease, the five levels that will indicate how the coronavirus is currently affecting the population and the restrictions we’ll all have to live through, there’s also details on how we’ll mark and reflect on everything we’ve gone through. 

To date, 1,787 people have died from Covid-19 and over 30,000 have been confirmed to have the virus.

In the first few months of the pandemic, people were often not able to be with their loved ones as they passed away and family members were unable to attend the funeral. Harrowing stories emerged at this time and in subsequent months

Events to mark these dark times are in the works and can be expected next year and into the future. 

The government’s plan says: “Covid-19 has also brought grief and loss to our lives in ways that most of us have not experienced in our lifetime. They have raised our awareness of the importance of the processes and rituals related to bereavement, dying and death.

It is important as a people that we pause and reflect, take time to remember and pay tribute both to those who have lost their lives but also to everyone who has contributed to how we have faced and are facing the challenges together.

It proposes a programme of national and local events to commemorate those we have lost, celebrating those who’ve helped us survive and ensure there is support for those who feel alone or lost.

The government will collaborate with the media, civil society organisations and church groups on the approach and timing. 

It says: “We all have very different experiences of memories of what happened in 2020.

There are have been a number of initiatives in different fields to catalogue our experience of Covid-19. In the future, it will be important to be able to look back and reflect on what we have learned about ourselves as a society.

Over the coming months, the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht will collaborate with the National Archives, Creative Ireland and the Arts Council to develop a programme of initiatives aimed at capturing the Covid-19 experience in Ireland.

NO FEE TAOISEACH MIN DONOHOE LAUNCH STAY AND SPEND JB6 Minister Catherine Martin's department will be working on the commemoration plans.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for Minister Catherine Martin said: “The department is conscious of the need for a measured and reflective approach in this matter and will be engaging widely in development of an appropriate programme to capture the experience of Covid-19 in Ireland.”

The idea for the government to mark this in some way has been in the works for some time.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie in May, then-Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “Ireland needs a day where people can grieve for those who have died during this pandemic.”

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003 Simon Harris Harris mooted the idea in an interview with TheJournal.ie in May. Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

While he wouldn’t necessarily call it a memorial day, he said there should be a day where people can grieve for those who have died of Covid-19 and those who passed away of non-Covid related illnesses and where a normal funeral could not be held.

“People haven’t been able to go to the house and give the family a hug and attend the wake and go to the funeral… we do funerals well in Ireland, I think we grieve quite publicly and openly as a community. Lots and lots of communities have been touched by this. And I think we need to recognise that,” he said.

About the author:

Sean Murray

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