A digital testament to those we’ve lost

Column by Andrea W. Doray
Posted 11/17/20

“On one of our walks during quarantine, my mom and I talked about how sad it was that people were dying and their loved ones couldn’t memorialize them or celebrate their lives. We decided we …

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A digital testament to those we’ve lost

Posted

“On one of our walks during quarantine, my mom and I talked about how sad it was that people were dying and their loved ones couldn’t memorialize them or celebrate their lives. We decided we wanted to do something to give back to all those grieving.”

These are the words of 17-year-old Sam Shoflick. And what she and her mother Megan decided to do was develop a free website for people to create memorial pages for their loved ones “…so all who have been lost to the pandemic can be commemorated in this collective space,” says Sam.

Sam and Megan live in the south Denver metro area, but their site – Covituary.org – is available around world. Megan says their inspiration actually came from a particularly heartbreaking loss – a close friend’s mother was separated from her husband in their nursing home after she got sick with COVID-19.

“When she was dying, her husband couldn’t see her, so their children took an iPad and a ladder to the second-story window of their dad’s room, so he could say goodbye via FaceTime to his wife of 60-plus years,” says Megan.

Deeply affected by this story, Sam and Megan agreed that a website to honor victims of the coronavirus would have the most impact. “CovituaryTM is a place to reconnect with family and friends and celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost,” says Megan.

Through a friend, they connected with a programmer who built the interactive site. It was also vitally important their website be translated into multiple languages. “Because the pandemic is global, we want our site to accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world,” says Megan.

For information about the coronavirus I turned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the current status in our country.

As of this writing, the CDC reports 10,846,373 cases in the U.S., and the number of deaths ascribed to the coronavirus are 244,810 since January 21. Worldwide (based on numbers from countries who choose to share reports), 54.3 million people have been infected and 1.32 million have died.

The Colorado Department of Public Health reports 163,417 cases in our state and 2,234 deaths due to COVID-19 (the total number of deaths among these cases is slightly higher).

Of course, pretty most everyone I talk to has an opinion on these numbers – overcounted, under-reported, misrepresented, etc., not to mention stark differences in perspectives about masks and social distancing.

To most of us, though, numbers like these (whether higher or lower) are overwhelming. And, unfortunately, most of us probably know of – or have experienced – heart-wrenching

tragedies like the one Megan and Sam describe … families and friends unable to share a funeral service, a celebration of life, or even a goodbye.

Their Covituary.org site has only been live for three weeks and already honors more than 50 people. “This is a hard and challenging topic,” says Sam. “Losing a loved one at any time is difficult, but even more so without the support of friends, family and community. This project is our way of giving back and making a difference.”

Andrea Doray is a writer who was moved to tears by the memorials on covituary.org. Contact her at a.doray@andreadoray.com.

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