Non-Profit Website Encourages Families and Friends to Post Obituaries, Photos and Memories of COVID-19 Victims at No Cost
5000 Tributes Now Featured on Site
When Dermot Jevens and Rebecca Heiss launched their non-profit tribute website www.mourningamerica.org, they hoped people would use the site to honor loved ones lost to the coronavirus. What they didn’t expect, though, is that the platform would grow to include one heartbreaking element: tributes to couples who both died from COVID-19. They now include more than 50 of the 5000 victims listed on the site.
“It was devastating,” says Heiss. “Losing one person is tragic, but then we started seeing tributes to couples who died from the virus. You can’t help but feel incredible sadness for them and their families who have experienced a double loss. It’s so important to tell these stories so people can share, grieve and honor these victims. That’s the purpose of mourningamerica.org and we are heartened to know it’s fulfilling that mission.”
“There have been news reports of couples who had both died from the virus, but it doesn’t really hit you until you read these tributes and understand the profound loss,” said Jevens. “That’s why we are doing this — so people can express their emotions, feelings, love for the victims in a way that is respectful, and also free. There is no cost to honor a loved one on mourningamerica.org. We wanted it to be open to anyone.”
Since its launch in April, www.mourningamerica.org, whose tagline is “More than Just a Number,” has collected tributes of victims throughout the country, including patients and healthcare workers. It was created by Jevens and Heiss, who sought to aid the fight against the virus with a platform to remember the victims. The couple, based in South Carolina, have no official role in managing the crisis. They are just one couple doing what they can to help. “Seeing the number of victims rise daily was heartbreaking. These were people – parents, doctors, grocery workers, sisters… They were all more than a number.”
Jevens is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and entrepreneur who currently serves as Treasurer/ Secretary for the American Animal Hospital Association. Previously, he was Senior Vice President, Collaboration and Innovation for Compassion-First Pet Hospitals, where he was responsible for culture development, all specialty recruiting and innovation at a 41-hospital specialty and ER network. Jevens also served as founder/ CEO of Upstate Veterinary Specialists, a multi-specialty animal hospital with locations in Greenville, SC and Asheville, NC.
Heiss, Ph.D. is founder and CEO of Icueity, a mobile application that focuses on building self-awareness (available in June). Her new book, Instinct, will hit shelves in 2021. Heiss is a highly sought-after keynote speaker who uses her background in evolutionary biology to inspire people to break free of limiting, fear-based behaviors.