Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission blog

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By Hanan Wahabi, one of the Memorial Commission's community representatives for the bereaved families.

I lost five members of my family in the Grenfell Tower tragedy on 14 June 2017. My brother, his wife and their three children, aged 20, 15 and 8. They had lived in Grenfell Tower for 19 years. I also lived in Grenfell Tower with my then husband and our two children, who were aged 15 and 8 at the time. We had lived in the tower for 15 years. It has been difficult for my family to have experienced a great loss in the way that we did, as well experiencing the impact of being a survivor. I feel much guilt about this.

I became a community representative to work with the whole community, to create something memorable and beautiful. Somewhere that together, we can forever remember our families, friends and neighbours. We have all lost or experienced loss. This memorial must bring unity, must remind us of what we all have in common regardless of where we come from and the languages we speak. We want to remember the goodness, their smiles.

I am here to listen to what the bereaved constituents would like to see, feel and express about the memorial. That listening and communicating requires all of our senses – this process goes beyond words.

Since our initial face-to-face meetings in February last year, we have held monthly meetings with the bereaved and are now starting to hold monthly meetings with bereaved and survivors together, with additional meetings for the local residents. These monthly meetings have been invaluable, and we have heard a lot about the feelings that people want to associate with the future memorial.

The memorial needs to be therapeutic and it is about remembrance, for our lifetimes and beyond. It will also be there to help make sure we never forget. What happened in the Tower is part of history now and the memorial needs to hold that story. It needs to mark a learning curve and be a reminder of what must never happen again.  People, everywhere, must feel safe in their homes. Our loved ones cannot have died in vain.

I am a Muslim and in my faith, there are different forms of charity: from helping in the short-term, like giving someone a sandwich, or longer-term help, like building a well. That’s the charity that we as Muslims aim for – life-long charity. In that same spirit, this memorial will be both for now and forever.

I cannot imagine the views and preferences of the bereaved families and former residents being anywhere but at the centre of the Memorial Commission. It cannot happen without them. They are the life force.

We are continuing to listen and gather ideas in the coming months. It so important for the bereaved, former residents and those who live near the Tower to have their say because the memorial will be for them. I have already given my own thoughts about this. Please do so as well, or  please tell us if there are other ways you would like us to involve you.

For me, the emerging themes and findings we shared with you in December have highlighted both the individuality and the unity of people’s ideas. For me, everyone’s words and suggestions are a priority. No two losses are the same. Remembrance means something different to different families. We want to hear and understand those subtleties.

My own hopes are that every bereaved, former resident and others feel that the future memorial is befitting for every one of the 72 individuals who lost their lives. For everyone who has been impacted, I hope they will feel that it is a place of love, peace and change. A symbol of a better, safer future for the next generation.

To contact the Memorial Commission, including the community representatives, go to our contact page. You can also join our mailing list or follow us on Twitter at @GrenfellTowerMC.

Click here to read about the ideas we have heard so far for a future memorial, and to find out how you can contribute your thoughts, too.

Read here for details of the support available to those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Published on
23 February 2021