Losing a loved one can be heart-wrenching, especially during the pandemic, when traditional services aren’t always available.
“In COVID, I feel like a lot of us need more closure and we’re not able to get that,” said Judith Eyre, who lost her mother, Josie, to COVID-19 complications in April of 2020, a time when many were unsure how to handle funeral arrangements.
“It wasn’t appropriate for us to try to have an in-person gathering, you know, just losing our mom and, you know, not wanting to expose anyone else,” Judith said.
Unable to celebrate Josie’s life in person, Judith found an emotional outlet online at Covituary.org, a website dedicated to help memorialize those lost to COVID-19 from a safe environment.
“We hope that this website can kind of help those when they’re losing somebody when they don’t have the support like normal,” said 17-year-old Samantha Shoflick, who started the website with her mother, Megan Shoflick, as a way for friends and family to honor the lives of those lost to COVID-19 while also social distancing.
“We want to make sure that the lives lost don’t just become numbers, that they’re remembered,” Megan Shoflick said. “We thought that it was helpful to have one collective space.”
Covituary.org is free, translates into 10 languages. and allows users to post pictures, videos, obituaries and share stories. Mental health experts say those options are more than just an emotional Band Aid, but rather helpful alternatives in dealing with death during a worldwide crisis.
“When there’s been loss, the togetherness of that shared experience is so powerful,” said Randi Smith, Ph.D., a psychology professor at MSU Denver.
Smith says while this online service is not a perfect substitute for in-person services, it does have a place and purpose beyond the pandemic.
“It’s a real lasting way to commemorate somebody, to memorialize them until a time when maybe they’re able to have an in-person memorial service or to get together with friends and tell stories,” she said.
Until the time when Judith is able to have that in-person memorial service to celebrate her mother, she’s dealing with grief and working toward closure online during this COVID-19 crisis.
“Every time that I can speak about my mom or share what a wonderful person she was, it helps me to heal,” she said.