NHS Sophomore Sets Up Website to Memorialize Lost Friends, Loved Ones from Covid-19

Susan Manning Staff Writer
Issue Date: 
May, 2020
Article Body: 

The coronavirus does not discriminate and it has left a significant number of fatalities in its wake. Many of those who lost their lives were not able to have a proper service because of the social distancing rules in effect. One Natick High School student found a way to alleviate this pain—at least temporarily—for the loved ones left behind.
NHS sophomore Ella O’Connor’s solution: a website and Instagram account—Redhawk Memories—dedicated to memorializing those lost to the coronavirus— or from something else during the pandemic.
O’Connor said the idea came to her during one of her early remote learning courses
“During one of our very first online English classes, my classmates and I were discussing some of our many concerns about schools being closed. My teacher shared with us that students’ families won’t be able to hold funerals if they lose a loved one during the pandemic, and I was completely shocked!
“In all the time I’d spent thinking about the virus and the many ways it was going to affect our world, it had not yet occurred to me that social distancing would disrupt the grieving process. I immediately knew that I wanted to do something to help those people in our community who might end up experiencing loss and pain in isolation,” she said.
According to O’Connor, the website went from concept to reality fairly quickly.
“The initial brainstorming started at the end of March. At that point, Natick students had been out of school for about two weeks, and I was just beginning to realize the degree to which the pandemic could impact our community. I think we all were!” she explained, adding she plans to keep the site and Instagram account up indefinitely.
“I know that the grieving and healing process can be so different for people, and I understand that this process won’t just end when the pandemic ends, so the memorials on our site will still be there as long as they continue to help people,” she said.
Already the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I’ve been so pleased by the tremendous support that Redhawk Memories has received, thus far. There are so many people in our community who have been looking for ways to help one another through this time, and I think that our site has become an outlet for some of that support. Not everyone feels comfortable sharing personal information on a public platform, which is understandable, but regardless, I think that people appreciate that the opportunity is there should someone want or need it,” said the sophomore.
What message does she have to those who feel helpless in this pandemic?
“I want anyone who’s feeling helpless during this pandemic to know that there are lots of ways that we can connect, be of service, and support each other even while we’re physically separated. So many people in our community are spreading love to those who need it most during this time —from sewing masks, to sharing music, creating inspiring art, and more. By supporting these projects, or even by starting a new one, we’re continuing to remind each other that no one is alone! Although we’re apart and missing each other, I think that the Natick community is as strong as ever!” she said.
Although the 16-year-old doesn’t know anyone personally who is fighting the virus, she has friends who know someone with it.
“Recognizing we won’t be able to properly honor our loved ones during this difficult time, we hope this site can offer some comfort and support to our community.
The loved ones need not be Natick residents; they need only to have a connection to a Natick community member,” reads the message on the website.
To add your lost love one to either the website or the Instagram account (@redhawkmemories), email [email protected]. Visit the website here: bit.ly/redhawkmemories.