As of July 7th, more than 130,000 people in the U.S. have died due to COVID-19. Because of the rapid spread of the virus and the inability to have a proper burial for many of those lost, it may feel as if those losses are, well, lost in the shuffle of life.
The founders of the website MourningAmerica.org are aiming to change that.
MourningAmerica.org wants to share a story of every person who has lost their life due to COVID-19. Founders Rebecca Heiss and Dermot Jevens say on their site that they felt helpless when they first started to learn of the deaths that occurred due to the coronavirus. They found it especially disturbing that there were many numbers reported to indicate virus casualties but very little about the stories of the real people behind the associated deaths. That led Heiss and Jevens to put together MourningAmerica.org.
On MourningAmerica.org, users can both share a story of someone they love and search for stories about someone specific. You can also browse through the pictures on the first page of the site and click on them to read each individual’s story. Here are some highlights from some Florida-based residents on the site:
- Terrence McNally, 81. The famous playwright and Sarasota resident had a career that spanned 60 years and won the 2019 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.
- Gerard “Jerry” Rotonda Jr. He’s described as having lived a selfless life, devoted to helping his five children and 12 grandchildren. “He filled the roles of father, mentor, advisor, and true friend,” an anonymous poster writes on the site.
- David Lee Smith, 56. Smith’s sister tells the story of how he lived in a wheelchair and in a nursing home and wasn’t able to connect with his family due to pandemic. His sister believes he died from the emotional effects of the virus—feeling alone.
- Patsy Wagner, 66. Described as a wife, mother, stepmother, sister, aunt, cousin, nana, and great friend, Wagner is described as the glue that held her family together. She died 10 days after being positive for COVID-19.
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