Losing a loved one to COVID-19: “It’s a different kind of grief”

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WASHINGTON (WDVM) — Over 640,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, and in the D.M.V., over 20,000. For friends and family who are mourning the loss of their loved ones, it’s immeasurable.

Many who are going through the grieving process are taking it day-by-day and working to keep their loved ones from being just a number. Lakecia Murchison, who lost her mother to the virus, said, “It’s just an every day, constant battle.”

The battle has consumed the lives of countless people. Murchison said, “I’m still stuck on April 7, 2020. I’m still stuck there and I can’t move past that date.”

It’s that April 7 that brings Murchison’s source of grief. “I fight demons every day,” said Murchison. “I fight suicidal thoughts. I fight depression. I just fight it all, because it hurts.”

For others, it’s the last day they had with their loved ones. No matter the date, the feeling remains for each of them. Chanel Crowder, who lost her father to the virus, said, “I don’t like to say this, but it literally was the worst day of my life.”

Crowder’s father died within five days of testing positive. “He was never put on a ventilator at all. Had the best treatment, but everything happened so fast and he peacefully transitioned. It was traumatic because I’m always there, and to not be there at the hospital with him was a lot,” she said.

The safety protocols that kept families from their loved ones is something each person says makes it harder. “A covid death is like nothing anyone has ever experienced because of the separation,” said Crowder. Murchison added, “I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to her like I wanted to, because I wasn’t allowed to.”

Aside from not being able to say goodbye, the pandemic kept people from properly honoring those who died. Dawn Aumiller, who lost her mother to the virus, explained, “We were able, still, to have a small funeral for her. We could only have ten people. To have it be something so quiet, that wasn’t right, not for her. It needs to be loud and obnoxious and just fun, because that’s who she was.”

Trying to move on with life without those special souls is especially challenging as the pandemic is something that can’t be escaped. Aumiller explained, “Every time I leave the house, I see 500 people with masks on, and people are talking about covid. You can’t get away from it.”

“This grief is so different from normal grief because everybody just wants the world to go back to normal, but what’s normal to me is my mom here,” Murchison added. Though others say they understand, only those going through it can truly relate. Crowder said, “People just start to tune you out and you feel like you’re abandoned.”

While everyone has their own ways of keeping their loved ones close by, grief support groups like the Yellow Heart Memorial are helping people find solace. Murchison said, “I know I’m not alone. The Yellow Heart is my family now. Yellow Heart is my family.” Crowder added, “We’re like sisters now, because we all have a common thread.” Aumiller explained, “It’s just supporting each other in it, and that’s been a huge help because you know you’re not by yourself.”

Murchison, Crowder and Aumiller recommend finding a support system for anyone who is going through this loss. They recommend groups like Yellow Heart Memorial, diving deeper into your faith and keeping things close that remind you of your loved one.

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