People fell silent at midday on Thursday to mark lives lost during the pandemic on a “poignant day” marking the third anniversary of the first lockdown.
A minute’s silence was held at I remember: Scotland’s Covid Memorial in Glasgow’s Pollok Park as part of the National Day of Reflection.
Three wreaths were laid in memory of the lives lost to Covid, and memorial creator Alec Finlay and Scotland’s Makar Kathleen Jamie read excerpts from I Remember, a collection of people’s memories of the pandemic.
The memorial features 40 “I remember” oak tree supports along a walk through the park.
Mr Finlay, the poet and artist who was commissioned to make the memorial, said the designs were inspired by the support ordinary people showed one another during the pandemic.
Peter McMahon, who lost his 53-year-old wife Debbie in 2020 after she contracted Covid-19 in September that year, was among those at the event.
Mr McMahon, a member of Covid-19 Families Scotland and Scottish Covid Bereaved Justice Group, told the PA news agency: “It’s a very poignant day, a very emotional day for myself personally.
“Speaking to people, not only members of the group, people I’ve met here today, they seem to think it’s a focal point, somewhere they can go and think about things and basically remember things, so people seem to draw a lot of comfort, they pick a sculpture, and basically they see something in that sculpture to represent those that they have lost, so it’s quite a good way of remembering somebody.”
Mr McMahon, from Hamilton in South Lanarkshire, added: “I think it’s very, very important Scotland has something like this, we do need to remember all those lost to Covid-19 and all the people that sacrificed in other ways, long Covid, people that didn’t get the proper medical treatment they required because of the Covid pandemic, and all those that actually worked through it and tried to bring the country through it.
“This garden, it’s not just about the bereaved, it’s about remembering all those people as well.”
The 54-year-old, who has three children and four grandchildren, described his late wife as “the life and soul of our family” and the “heart of our family”.
He laid a wreath on behalf of Covid-19 Families Scotland.
Another of the wreaths laid bore the message “In memory of every life lost to Covid.”
The event on Thursday coincided with the completion of the memorial, the first phase of which was opened by Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney last May.
Speaking at the time, Mr Finlay said: “It is an artwork made not by me, but by the people of Scotland.
“My designs were inspired by the support ordinary people showed one another.”
The campaign to create a national memorial to those who lost their lives during the pandemic was initiated and led by The Herald newspaper.
Meanwhile in Dundee, the lives of those lost during the pandemic were among those honoured at the launch of a new memorial garden in the city.
The University of Dundee Botanic Garden formally opened its Good Grief Memorial Garden on Thursday.
It is believed to be the first botanic garden in the world that marks lives lost during the pandemic, and will also provide a quiet space for anyone wishing to reflect on the life of a loved one.
Kevin Frediani, curator of the Botanic Garden, said: “Grief will affect us all at some point and does so in different ways, but the pandemic certainly helped to bring this realisation to the forefront of a lot of people’s minds.
“Visitors have always sought peace and tranquillity here at the Botanic Garden, but the opening of a dedicated memorial garden will allow visitors a beautiful, considered space to reflect on a lost relative or friend.
“We have been working closely with the local community, as well as external organisations, to ensure that what we have created is a sensitive, timeless tribute to those we love and miss every day.
“We hope that people from across Scotland feel as though they can join us here and find solace in this very special place.”
At the heart of the garden are four specially commissioned obelisks, representing the seasons of the year, while the space is surrounded by trees, ensuring privacy for those seeking it.