I’ve been at home since Friday 13th March, and the UK went into lockdown the week afterwards. Now that we’re in week 14, markers of time are more important than ever. Without the weekends away, theatre trips, weddings, short courses, exhibition visits and nights out with friends that had filled my diary and have now been cancelled, what is there to mark the time and stop it all blending into one?
Last week I received an invitation to an online humanist ceremony to mark three months since lockdown. Having attended many beautiful humanist wedding ceremonies over the years, I had signed up to their mailing list (and had even considered becoming a celebrant myself!), but I have to admit that this was the first email that I had properly read. This definitely sounded like something I needed, and which might help me to process the many strange emotions that I was having trouble working through by myself. The guilt for being healthy and having paid work that I can do from home, when so many others are not that lucky. The sadness at not being able to hug loved ones, even though I know it’s for a good reason. The anger and frustration at the government’s poor handling of pretty much everything.
The ceremony turned out to be exactly what I needed. As well as being a marker in time and a useful tool for reflection, it was also an important reminder of why we’re doing this. Why we’re staying at home and keeping our distance from friends and family. To stop the spread of a virus that has already claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people here in the UK, and far more worldwide. It expressed thanks to those working hard to save lives and keep the country going, shared the grief of those who have lost loved ones and couldn’t be by their side, and gave a sense of community at a time when many of us need it. If you think you might benefit from 30 minutes of calm contemplation, you can watch the Humanist National Memorial Ceremony below. I recommend having tissues to hand, just in case.