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Aug 29  – Mourning Daughter Hosting Candlelight Vigil for Victims of COVID-19 

Aug 29  – Mourning Daughter Hosting Candlelight Vigil for Victims of COVID-19

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 15, 2020)

Madison Heights, MI – Samantha Pickering’s father Gordon was just 61 years old when he died of COVID-19 on April 1, 2020.  Though he had joked about one day having a beach party themed funeral, none could be had due to the pandemic and restrictions on gatherings designed to prevent even more deaths.

But now Pickering is reaching out to the entire community, inviting anyone who would like to gather and mourn the loss of all the victims to join them on Aug. 29 at 7:30pm at Madison Heights City Hall (360 W 13 Mile Rd) for a socially-distanced candlelight vigil.

Nationwide there have been over 168,000 deaths.  In Michigan 6,567 people have died. Of those, 1,136 were Oakland County residents.  In Madison Heights, a city with a population of 30,000 people, there have been 36 deaths.

Neighboring cities have lost lives as well.  In Hazel Park there have been 16 deaths.  In Royal Oak the body count is 34.  And in Troy 60 people have succumbed to the disease.

“My Dad was the hardest working man I’ve ever known,”  Samantha said.  “He did anything and everything for his family and friends – from lending tools to people, to climbing a ladder and helping you install your new roof. If you ever needed anything, he was beyond happy to help. He never stopped moving.

“I think he felt at his best when he knew everyone he loved was well and taken care of. He took a genuine interest in everyone he met. One of his favorite things to do was catch up and chat with people. He was always super excited to see them when he did with a huge smile on his face.

Every year we would travel and go hiking with some of our family members. We would start planning the trip around Christmas when we all got together, and he would talk about it nonstop for months until we went on our adventure in the summer. I remember his smile and laugh, and how he used to greet me by saying “Hey Kid.” He was a devoted family man.”

As people around the world experience similar pain and loss, the need for some kind of coming together seemed clear to Samantha.

“The whole point of having a service is to find comfort by surrounding yourself with your loved ones,” Samantha said.  “I’ve spoken with many others, as part of several COVID grief groups, and having something virtual did not feel right. We want to have a space to honor his life with those we love.”   Although hugs are not recommended, simply being together and sharing in the grief can have an impact on those who are struggling with the loss.

Participants will be asked to wear face masks and to practice social distancing at the event.  Those who are not able to attend in person are welcome to light a candle at home and share it on the Facebook Event Page.

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