The Prince of Wales is spearheading a ‘virtual memorial’ for those whose lives have been tragically taken by the ‘agonisingly painful’ Covid-19 pandemic.
Remember Me, is an online book of remembrance started by St Paul’s Cathedral, in London, but open to mark the loss of loved ones of all faiths and creeds.
In a video message to launch the project, Prince Charles says: ‘This virtual book of remembrance is here to help us remember; not just to recall our loss and sorrow, but also to be thankful for everything good that those we have loved brought into our lives, and all that they have given to others.’
From today family, friends and carers of those who have died can submit, free of charge, the name, photograph and a short message in honour of a deceased person via the Remember Me website.
The Prince of Wales has backed a virtual book of remembrance for Covid-19 victims allowing families to express their ‘loss and sorrow’ but celebrate ‘everything good’ about their loved ones.
It will remain open for entries as long as needed but the deceased person must have been living in the UK.
In his address, the heir to the throne says: ‘Together with the rest of the world, the people of the United Kingdom have experienced, personally, and in our community life, the shock of sudden change in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘For too many among us, this has brought tragedy and heartbreak. For some, relatives have not been able to be present at the time of their loved one’s passing.
‘For many, the loss of their loved ones has been made all the more agonisingly painful by the necessary restrictions on funerals, travel and gatherings.
‘For all of us, there has been anxiety in the present as we have wondered what the future will be.’
He added: ‘People of every faith, and of none, believe that each human being is unique and precious. We also believe it is essential that we remember: we recall how our lives, individually and together, are shaped by the joys and sorrows of the past, so that we may look forward with hope for the future.
Charles, who recovered from the illness earlier this year, said the outbreak had ‘brought tragedy and heartbreak’ for ‘too many’.
‘We give thanks for how our lives have been woven together with theirs and, through this book, you are invited to share their lives with others – so that we and those who follow us can all remember what has been, and build together a better and more hopeful future.’
The Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Very Reverend David Ison, added: ‘We are all experiencing the devastating impacts of Covid-19 across the country and beyond.
‘Remember Me is an opportunity to mourn every person we have lost to the effects of this terrible disease, an encouragement to offer compassion and support to those left behind, and an ongoing recognition of the impact of the pandemic on the UK.’
Remember Me has the support of other faith leaders in the UK and is being supported by The Dorfman Foundation, founded by Jewish businessman and philanthropist Sir Lloyd Dorfman.
To launch the project, the choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral have recorded a beautiful piece of music to serve as an anthem for the book, Mendelssohn’s Lift Thine Eyes, part of Psalm 121.
St Paul’s community has experienced loss during the pandemic with the mother of Oliver Caroe, surveyor of the fabric of the cathedral, dying on April 5 aged 81 due to Covid-19. Pictured: Mrs Caroe
There are also plans for the Remember Me site to become a physical memorial at the cathedral.
It already has approved designs for a new inner porch in the North transept and, subject to funding, it will serve as a memorial for all who have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
St Paul’s community has experienced loss during the pandemic with the mother of Oliver Caroe, surveyor of the fabric of the cathedral, dying on April 5 aged 81 due to Covid-19.
Mr Caroe, whose job was famously held by the architect of St Paul’s Sir Christopher Wren, said about Mrs Caroe, a former GP and police surgeon: ‘When my mum was sent off in an ambulance, we feared we would never see her again.
‘Not having any of the closeness, face to face conversations or rituals that you would normally have in place with someone over their last days adds to the deep emotional impact.’
He said his mother’s family and friends were planning a party in her honour: ‘In the meantime, I hope the Remember Me memorial will help us all look ahead, past the immediate, painful horizon, in hope.’
The idea for the memorial project stemmed from a conversation the Dean had with the Bishop of London Dame Sarah Mullally in mid April when she mentioned an online book she had come across and he decided to create a virtual book of remembrance.
Dr Ison, who has recorded a video to launch the project, said: ‘It’s important for people’s spiritual, emotional and mental health to be able to express grief and have somewhere to put that grief and that remembrance.’
And he said collectively expressing tributes following a death was vital as it helped people connect: ‘Of course it’s a personal tragedy and loss for people but to know that’s shared and that’s understood by other people in the country ‘that we share this together’ is a supportive thing.’