Month after month, we hear report after report about how one of the more painful parts of losing a loved one to COVID is not having the chance to truly say goodbye.
Sometimes the illness progresses too rapidly to even allow for a remote farewell. In other cases, family and friends of those who’ve fallen ill are able to Facetime, Zoom, or talk over the phone to let them know how much they are loved and how much they will be missed. But it’s not the same — not by a longshot. Those who have lost someone to this pandemic, in most cases, never had a chance for that final hug with their parent, child, sibling or friend. And, along with that, the opportunity to say goodbye face to face.
We know that nothing can make up for that. But we also believe that keeping those final thoughts and sentiments bottled up can be an additional hardship. So we are offering anyone who couldn’t have that in-person goodbye a chance to share what you would have said if you’d had been able to be by their side.
We call this effort: With Love: Messages to those lost to COVID
COVID has taken more than 430,000 people in the U.S. from us — nearly 3,000 in Philadelphia alone. What would you have said to them? Would you have told them that they made you feel important? That you’ll now cherish that lucky jersey they wore whenever they watched the Phillies? Or that Thanksgiving wasn’t the same without their signature dish?
If you’ve lost someone to COVID and want to express your goodbye, we’re here to help. You can write something on your own or record yourself and send in the video or audio file. If you’d like to participate but find it hard to do so on your own, we’ll have a reporter from one of our Broke in Philly newsroom partners reach out to have a conversation with you to get those words and thoughts flowing. Or, express yourself in a different way. Art, dance, song, you name it.
We’ll be setting up a site to publish these pieces starting March 10, marking one year since the first COVID case was diagnosed in Philadelphia. We’ll continue gathering goodbyes from there.
If you are fortunate enough to have not lost a loved one to COVID, please consider sending this on to someone who did. We have a page here that explains in detail what we are trying to do. And anyone interested in participating can fill out this form to sign up.
These messages will be addressed to the loved ones we have lost, but will also help our community remember all the strong, loving and unique people who make Philly great.
Editor: Eugene Sonn / Designer: Henry Savage / Translator: N/A
Kensington Voice is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on economic mobility. Read more at brokeinphilly.org or follow on Twitter at @BrokeInPhilly.