Families in Charles County, Maryland came together Sunday afternoon, despite the hot temperatures, for a memorial service to remember their loved ones who died after a coronavirus outbreak in a local nursing home.
Wearing masks, people gathered outside at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in La Plata to pay tribute to the people they lost to COVID-19 at the Sagepoint senior living facility.
Tammy Semega’s 91-year-old dad died. She said this service was the beginning of healing for her.
"It was very moving, emotional for me," she said. "To me, even though my father is at rest, I never said goodbye the way I was supposed to."
It was the first time some of these families were able to grieve collectively because of the pandemic. Funerals and burial services were limited or prohibited all together because of the state's limits on large gatherings.
Many didn’t get to see their loved ones before they died. This service gave them the chance to be with others who experienced the same loss.
On the church grounds, there were crosses with the names of each person who died.
Patrick Chesley lost his 78-year-old mom Arline. He said it meant a lot to him to meet the other families.
"We needed spiritual uplifting, love by all that were here," Chesley said.