COVID-19 victims memorialized across the nation on eve of presidential inauguration
On the eve of the presidential inauguration, thousands across the country memorialized the more than 400,000 people who have died from COVID-19.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were at a vigil in Washington, D.C. Biden called on Americans to remember those lost to the coronavirus.
Dozens of smaller events were held across New Jersey, including one in Jersey City. The events were meant to send a message of unity and hope. And they were a chance for the community to come together to remember those lost during the pandemic.
“Behind every one of our 400,103 fatalities is a person with a name and a story,” says Sabila Kahn, co-founder of the Facebook group COVID-19 Loss Support for Family & Friends. “These are not just numbers. These are human beings and won’t be relegated to statistics."
Kahn hosted the Jersey City event outside City Hall Tuesday night. She lost her father to the virus in April. She could not hold a funeral, wake or burial.
“Grief becomes complicated and prolonged. Grief becomes trauma. Unfortunately, my experience isn’t unique,” Kahn says.
Four days after her father died, Kahn founded the Facebook group to help those like herself to deal with a type of grief that she compares to trauma.
“We are experiencing a tsunami of grief in this country and that’s why the grief is just a different beast,” she says.
And she says that memorials like the ones held across the country help in the healing process.
The fact that the events were held on the night before the presidential inauguration was not a coincidence.
“I think people are optimistic tomorrow will bring us more resources and a different approach, and hopefully less fatalities for all of us,” says Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.
Jersey City has lost about 600 residents to COVID-19, including Councilman Michael Yun, who was honored at the memorial.