Loved and Lost — Faces and stories of NJ’s COVID-19 victims
Starting at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Jersey in April, the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University has been working to gather the names of every Garden State resident lost to the coronavirus, not just listing them, but telling the stories of their lives and the impact they left here.
Loved and Lost is not a compilation of obituaries, although much of the information currently on the site comes from those notices. Originally a project of NorthJersey.com, the website is now calling for submissions from any and all journalists and media sources, as well as those who knew the victims best — their family members.
New Jersey 101.5 and Townsquare Media are proud to have been asked to participate in this ongoing effort, and we will be updating this post, and the photo gallery that accompanies it, with additional profiles as the pandemic persists.
Betsy Abraham, Loved and Lost project manager, said that with more than 16,000 confirmed or probable COVID-19 deaths in the state so far, it's a "huge undertaking."
To date, the website lists information for just shy of 800 New Jerseyans who have succumbed to the virus.
One major problem, according to Abraham, is that short of the state's daily announcements, there is no quick and easy way to verify whether a death is COVID-related or not. That is why family involvement is so important.
"There's only so much we can do," Abraham said. "So if a family member tells us their loved one died of COVID, we take them at their word. But we don't know if the people passed away without getting tested."
A massive Google spreadsheet maintained by those at the core of the Loved and Lost project contains links from published obituaries, funeral home announcements, Facebook and Instagram posts, and publications from local to national, all in an attempt to round out the picture of each individual victim.
The solemn goal is to make the site a self-contained record of the lives COVID-19 has claimed throughout New Jersey.
"So many people have passed away, and when you think about the loss to the state, it's a staggering loss," Abraham said. "We've had healthcare workers who have died, teachers, parents, grandparents. It's a huge loss."
If you have lost a loved one to COVID-19, add their name to Loved and Lost via the submission form below.
This story is part of Loved and Lost, a statewide media collaboration working to name and celebrate the life of every New Jersey resident who died of COVID-19. To learn more, visit lovedandlostnj.com.