Today is the first anniversary of the first UK lockdown and we have joined Marie Curie and many other organisations for a National Day of Reflection to support those who've been bereaved, reflect on our collective loss, and hope for a brighter future.  

To honour and remember the lives of people behind the statistics, we have organised an online memorial for those we have lost in the last year and have put together useful bereavement information if you need support to help you cope during these hard times.  

We’ve asked our members, volunteers and staff to say a few words to celebrate the lives of loved ones who passed during the pandemic. Some of our staff and volunteers, who were a part of our Befriending Service, shared beautiful words about members who lived isolated lives and didn’t have friends or family to send us testimonials in their memory.  

"I'll never forget all our beautiful family trips to Italy, your smile will be there every time I visit" In memory of Norma 

“With great sadness Anthony (Tony) Magee succumbed to a non Covid related condition on 23rd December last. He attended the Friday coffee morning from its conception, a regular Pimlico goer plus many other ODL events. He had an almost bottomless appetite for books across many subjects and was extremely witty with a sense of humour many would be envious of. His stories of when he worked at The Jockey Club kept many people captivated over a cuppa and slice of cake. He wasn't much of an eater but never said no to a dessert. He will be severely missed by many. I no longer am able to rib him over his smoking. A true friend, always with a smile on his face and wit to many.” In memory of  Anthony  

"Terrence Slimm passed away on Thursday the 9th of April 2020. He left behind a few friends who remember him with deep affection; Barbie, Gina, Eileen, and me. Born in London’s East End he started work in the rag trade, where he had a few run ins with gangsters, and their wives and girlfriends, but for most of his career he was a railway man who took pride in what he did. He also loved to party. As Terry’s befriender, I learned about the 70s leather scene, the handkerchief code, and lots of stories I can’t repeat here. In the last year of his life, he celebrated a birthday in full drag, and he saw out his final days listening to ABBA, Cilla Black and The Beach Boys.He was a hard-working, fun-loving, tough, big hearted man, and I was honoured to call him my friend." In memory of Terry

“David was an Ambassador for Opening Doors London and had a long association with Age UK Camden, joining the Consultation Action Group and going on to become a trustee and board member of Opening Doors London, Age UK Camden, Opening Doors London, PSIC and Ageing Better in Camden. David won national awards for being a trustee and volunteer. He made an enormous but quiet contribution to the work of Opening Doors London and AUC over many years and with his humour, wisdom and kindness was a wonderful friend and colleague to so many of us at ODL and AUC.” In memory of David 

"Luke was a man with an impish sense of fun and a deep curiosity about life, despite all that it had thrown at him. He was in a uniquely challenging situation; for the last two years of his life he was fully paralysed, bed bound, and living in a long term respite home. When I visited Luke he would always turn the air blue with stories of what he got up to in his younger days, and tease me that the today’s younger gay men were no competition for his generation. Alongside these stories we would talk at length about politics and what is was like to be an out gay man in the 70s and 80s, when things were often very tough. " In memory of Luke 

"I first met him 4 years ago through the wonderful Opening Doors London LGBTQ+ befriending scheme. He was 86 years old when I first met him. It would be fitting to describe him as very, very Scottish. He was a total firecracker. He had the mouth of a sailor and was exceptionally mischievous and had me howling with laughter from the moment I met him in 2016 to the last time I saw him, just before lockdown started. What Jack represented as gay 90-year-old man is the last of a generation. A generation of people who had a very different experience of what it meant to be gay. A generation of people who paved the way for the foundations for gay liberation today. But Jack wasn’t a political man. He wasn’t on the front-line picketing for gay rights or attending Pride events. He was simply himself. A funny, foul-mouthed and mischievous Scots man, never afraid to say what was on his mind, and always making the people around him laugh until their ribs hurt. " In memory of Jack  

“The youngest of 7 siblings, she was full of life and always ready to dance, laugh and drink good wine. I’ll miss the feeling of excitement when I was around her. In memory of Sonia 

 *This list will be updated as more members, staff and volunteers send new submissions to honour and celebrate their loved ones 

Bereavement 

As the National Day of Bereavement is approaching, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that losing a loved one can cause immense feelings of grief that are nuanced and unique to the relationship and circumstances. Although grief is a natural process, the complexities of these feelings can often be overwhelming and confusing. Processing grief can be lonely for some and that is particularly true during current times when our support and social systems are changing. 

There are some beautiful and simple ways that we can remember our loved ones, even at home during lockdown. If you enjoy gardening, you could plant some summer-flowering bulbs this spring in memory of your loved one, or perhaps you can plant a tree or shrub; nurturing them and seeing them grow may give you beautiful moments of reflection and remembrance. Perhaps you could remember your loved one by preparing their favourite meal or listening to their favourite music. Whether it’s lighting a candle at home or writing down some memories, there are small things we can do to remember those that we have held closely to our hearts. 

It’s important that we recognise loss and all its associated difficulties in order to begin processing the complexities of bereavement. We cannot underestimate the value of having the space to talk about loss. This may mean simply having a listening ear from a volunteer who validates your individual experiences, but if you or someone you know is dealing with loss, specialist support and counselling are also available. 

Bereavement Advice Centre - Helpline: 0800 634 9494 

Cruse Bereavement Care - Helpline: 0808 808 1677 

At a Loss - Live Chat with a counsellor 

National Bereavement Partnership - Helpline: 0800 448 0800  

The Good Grief Trust - Helpline: 0800 2600 400