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Loss in Isolation: A Family After COVID-19

Thomas Hengge | United States

Firefighters wait outside the West Sayville firehouse to greet with Jackowski family before a memorial service for Chris Jackowski, a volunteer firefighter in West Sayville, Long Island, for over 20 years. July 25, 2020.

As the coronavirus began to make headlines in the United States, Chris Jackowski, a long-time Teamster working for Southern Wine and Spirits and a volunteer firefighter from Long Island, fell ill with what was thought to be the flu. It wasn’t. It was COVID-19.

Six days after contracting the virus, on March 20, 2020, the 56-year-old father of two and loving husband was dead.

A week later, COVID-19 cases and deaths skyrocketed, and gatherings of 50-or-more people became no gatherings at all, as mandated by New York State.

The Jackowski's were left without a memorial service until July, in purgatory between tragedy and new normal, grappling with personal crisis in a world spiraling into disaster, left alone on an island to mourn in isolation with new social norms adding to the grief.

"We were having family come to the end of the driveway and just wave and cry to all of us without being able to hug them," said Kyle, Chris's son.

This series is a look at loss, memorials and grief during COVID-19.

Email: twh281@nyu.edu

Instagram: @thomashengge

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