Rampey Family | Porch Photography

Local photographer Natriya Rampey, left, stands with her family in March. At the start of the pandemic, Rampey launched the “Porch Photography: In It Together” series.

Last Christmas, we didn’t know a global pandemic was coming that would cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and produce a dramatic upheaval in our lives.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Loudoun Times-Mirror has highlighted the generosity of community members helping others make ends meet. We’ve chronicled the work of front-line heroes at hospitals, nursing homes, fire and rescue departments and grocery stores.

We’ll be sure to continue monitoring that community spirit as the pandemic persists into 2021.

In the meantime, though, let’s spend at least part of this holiday season remembering our neighbors across Loudoun County who have died from the coronavirus. Light a candle, ring a bell, say a prayer, place an ornament on the tree or come up with your own way to honor the 155 people who had died from COVID-19 in the county as of Monday.

Many of these people died alone, with their loved ones unable to be at their side due to COVID-19 restrictions at hospitals and nursing homes. Families were forced to make terribly difficult decisions: Keep their loved one on a ventilator or let the doctors remove it when there’s no chance of survival.

COVID-19 has had an impact on people of all ages but has taken a disproportionate toll on the elderly as well as disadvantaged communities. Sadly, hundreds of the health care workers across the nation who we hailed as heroes have died from COVID-19 as they selflessly worked to stem the tide of the infection and care for the sick.

The names of most people who have died from the virus are kept private by the families. We do know the name of one of the first Loudouners to die from the virus. The family of Susan Rokus, a former teacher who was working as a tutor at two Ashburn elementary schools, gave Loudoun County Public Schools permission to release her name.

Rokus, who died from COVID-19 in late March, was remembered by Little River Elementary School Principal Kevin Murphy as one of the core leaders of the school when it first opened 20 years ago.

Less than four months after Rokus died, Loudoun’s COVID-19-related death toll had surpassed 100 people. In November, we learned that COVID-19 had taken the life of its youngest victim in Loudoun, a man in his 30s.

We may not be able to honor publicly every person who died, but that doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge them and send love to the people who have lost loved ones. Reach out to them or give them a virtual hug. We hope that the holiday season brings them peace.

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