RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Family and friends are remembering lives lost due to COVID-19.
Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh hosted a COVID-19 Day of Remembrance on Sunday.
Visitors wrote messages on ribbons and tied them to trees located in the cemetery’s Grove of Remembrance.
The section opened about two months ago as a way for people to remember loved ones. The cemetery’s Executive Director Robin Simonton said the pandemic made it difficult for many people to hold traditional funerals.
“It really changed the way we say goodbye,” Simonton said. “And so, we created this Grove of Remembrance a couple months ago because whether your loved one died of COVID or something else, but you had a funeral during this challenging time, it was really different for families to be able to gather.”
For Deborah Liggins, it was a way to remember her husband of more than 50 years.
Ricky Liggins was a retired Raleigh police officer who passed away in Nov. 2020 after contracting COVID-19. His wife came up with the idea for a day dedicated to remembering those lost to COVID-19 and reached out to Oakwood Cemetery.
“They don’t need to be forgotten either,” Liggins said. “They were human, they were here, they were part of us, and it’s left a big void in everybody’s life.”
Bob Carson of Raleigh came to honor two friends.
“We wrote we miss you so much Jack, and we love you,” Carson said.
It was a message similar to the one Liggins wrote on the ribbon for her husband.
“I actually put on the ribbon that he was missed every day, he’s missed all day long, and that I love him, and that I would never forget about him,” she said.
Simonton said the group Activate Good made hundreds of cards for families who lost loved ones to COVID-19 for the cemetery to hand out. She said people can visit the cemetery office Monday through Friday and pick up a ribbon.
“It’s a way to refresh my memory of him and then realize that it’s not just one life lost, but hundreds of thousands, so yes it does help,” Carson said.
More than 15,000 people in North Carolina have died from COVID-19.