The Covid-19 pandemic has made 2020 an unprecedented year, and for many people living with grief, not having the opportunity to say goodbye or being unable to gather with friends and family or attend a funeral or memorial service can make loss more complicated to navigate.
As the year draws to a close, St Christopher’s Hospice will be hosting an online remembrance event for the whole community, on December 6, to bring everyone together to reflect on the year and remember people who are no longer with us.
Tee Dobinson, whose husband, John Morris, died just a few weeks ago, feels that the remembrance event could be really helpful for families in 2020, as current Covid-19 restrictions meant that they needed to change their plans for friends and family at John’s funeral.
John, known to friends as Johnny, had an award-winning career as a magazine, book and newspaper designer, and as a travel writer. He lived in Blackheath with Tee and son Ben, 21. John died at the hospice on October 25 after a short but aggressive illness, aged 61.
Tee said: “Covid-19 restrictions necessitated a small funeral, with our closest family and friends. We had intended to bring together more people at a walk in Greenwich Park afterwards – one of Johnny’s favourite places – but new regulations meant that wasn’t possible.
“Nevertheless, we are planning a big party, with lots of guests, next year, to celebrate Johnny’s life, and there will be lots of dancing, as he would have wished.”
“Johnny was very gregarious, he loved life and travel, and was very sociable.
“We had endless visitors in his last few weeks, and it was so precious that our friends and family had the time to say the important things to Johnny, and he to them.
“We were caring for Johnny at home, but when the pain became impossible to manage, Johnny went to the hospice in Sydenham.
“Everyone was so lovely there, and he was happier that Ben and I didn’t have to give so much physical care and could concentrate on spending time with him.
“Ben played his guitar, and we took in our own quilt and pictures to make the room his own space. They were so kind, always talking to him directly, letting him know what they were doing, asking him what he thought and always in a kind gentle manner.
“Because Johnny had told staff that he loved the outdoors, woodlands and his garden, the staff suggested that they take his whole bed out into the garden – he was so delighted to wake up, wrapped-up cosy and warm, looking at the trees.
“St Christopher’s allowed Johnny to enjoy the last days of his life peacefully with his family, and to do so pain-free and with dignity. Ben and I, and all Johnny’s family and friends are so appreciative for this amazing gift the hospice staff gave our family.”
Andrew Goodhead, spiritual care Lead at St Christopher’s Hospice, said: “Bereavement doesn’t end; it is lived with, and we remain bereaved. Creating personal and shared times to remember someone who has died, recognises the on-going bonds that we have with that person.”
Andrew will be leading the online Remembering with St Christopher’s service broadcast from St Christopher’s on December 6 at 4pm, which everyone is invited to join for free, whatever your background, and regardless of whether you have a connection to the hospice.
Andrew said: “During social distancing measures, many of us have not had the traditional opportunities to come together and say goodbye to a relative or friend as we would wish.
“Instead, we need to find new ways to gather and remember, while we plan for a later date when we can meet with family and friends in person to grieve and remember happier times, too.
“Our service of remembrance on December 6 has been created to bring comfort and a sense of shared support in your grief, despite all our very different experiences and individual stories.
“Whether you lost someone unexpectedly to the Covid-19 virus, or you weren’t able to attend the funeral of someone you loved, or you have lived with grief for some time, the event is an opportunity to mark the loss, as part of the community”.
The live event will feature contributions from special guests, including HRH Princess Alexandra, who is Patron of St Christopher’s Hospice. It will broadcast live on the hospice’s Facebook and YouTube channels at 4pm on Sunday, December 6.
For further information, including how to join the event and on how to dedicate a light during the service to someone who has died, click here.
Pictured top: Tee Dobinson with her late husband, Johnny Morris (Picture: Joe Plimmer)
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