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.

Coronavirus has made death a number rather than a commemoration of a life and Croydon’s hospice – St Christopher’s is trying to bring everyone together to reflect on the year and remember people who are no longer here.

It recently hosted an online remembrance event for the whole community and has set up the opportunity to dedicate a light to someone.

School catering manager Helen Charalambous, 37, from Croydon, lost her nan, Christine Gibbens, aged 84, during the Covid-19 pandemic this year. 

In her working life, Christine was a carer for vulnerable adults, but in her retirement was Nan to eight grandchildren. She had moved to south London from Newcastle in her 20s, and spent her last years living at a nursing care home in Thornton Heath.

Helen, said: “When Nan died, one of the hardest things was not being able to gather together as a family to celebrate her life in the way that we and she would’ve wanted. Only eight of us were allowed to be at her funeral.

“We’d only lost Grandad last year, who was cared for by St Christopher’s Hospice, and being able to bring together all of our friends and family to share memories and to say goodbye to him was so important and special to us all.

“Whilst it’s not the same, I think knowing that my family, and other families also remembering a loved one, are joining together virtually at a community remembrance event will bring me real comfort.”

Special guests at the online event included HRH Princess Alexandra, who is Patron of St Christopher’s Hospice.

Andrew Goodhead, spiritual care lead at St Christopher’s Hospice, 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 planning for a later date when we can meet family and friends in person, to is an opportunity to mark the loss, as part of the community”.

To dedicate a light to someone who has died, visit