Marking our Anniversary: Reflection, Resilience, and Ritual

Shoshana Boyd Gelfand reflects on the upcoming lockdown anniversary

23rd February 2021

My anniversary is fast approaching. So is yours. And it’s important we don’t forget to pause and acknowledge that together. 

No, I’m not talking about wedding anniversaries (although I’d highly recommend not forgetting those either!). I’m referring to the anniversary of the first UK lockdown. It was about this time last year when we all hunkered down, washed our hands to shreds and learned how to have a coffee with someone on Zoom. It’s hard to believe we’ve lived in this state through the entire cycle of four seasons but we have anit’s important that we pause to mark this anniversary. 

Here’s why. Research on disaster relief has identified four stages that people go through following a traumatic communal event: Heroic, Honeymoon, Disillusionment, and Reconstruction. If we think back over the past year, we can see how our country’s collective response to Covid has followed that path: the early responses of neighbourhood WhatsApp groups and clapping for the NHS trickled off as the reality and depth of the loss settled on us. Fatigue and loss have sapped our energy. The absence of hugs and social support has deprived us of our usual coping strategies. Even with vaccination hope on the horizon, it’s clear that there is a long road to recovery. 

That’s why marking this anniversary is important. Anniversaries of traumatic events often mark the transition between Disillusionment and Reconstruction. And if we are going to reconstruct our society, we are going to have to acknowledge what has happened and the impact it has had on us: physically, economically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

“Resilience” is the new catchword. It’s an important one. We have all been stretched beyond what we imagined possible and, despite the immense losses of the past year, we are still here. But we are not going to spring back to what was before. Instead, we are going to have to work together to build something new, ideally bringing with us all of the learning that we have gained over the last painful year. That will require reflection, resilience and ritual. 

In anticipation of the anniversary of lockdown, Pears Foundation has released our spring professional development workshops for grantees. The focus is very much on giving our partners space to reflect on the past year – in terms of their own personal resilience as well as their organisational resilience. We’ve engaged experts in the field to create spaces for us to learn together about resilience, to share our own stories, and to develop organisational rituals that will help us to adapt to a world that is changed – and continuing to change. 

It is striking that, despite Pears Foundation being the ones to offer these workshops, the Pears Foundation team members will also be participating in themWe need it as much as anyone else because wdon’t have the answers. No one does. But, as always, we are on a journey with our partners. And when you have a partner, it’s important to pause and acknowledge anniversaries before continuing on your path together.