OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT)- COVID-19 may not make headlines like it did in 2020 or 2021 but for the families who lost loved ones during the yearslong pandemic and couldn’t hold proper funerals or celebrations of life- the grief and sorrow hasn’t gone away.

On Tuesday, grieving families across Owensboro came together to remember and honor those friends and loved ones lost over the past few years through song, prayer, poetry, and a proclamation from Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear appeared in a pre-recorded video, saying the compassion and love shown in Owensboro makes him “proud to be a Kentuckian and proud to be your Governor.”

Members of the Waninger family, who lost their beloved father, friend, and husband last September say it’s good to know that others are also going through a difficult time as well, even if it is “hard to see.”

Tuesday’s celebration came almost three years after COVID-19 first upended lives around the world and Glenn Family Services employee Betty Medley Wallace says families needed this opportunity to come together and grieve with one another to help their healing.

While the Waningers say they want to keep their beloved Nick’s name alive in the community, others like Julie White say being around other people has helped her fight the instinct to “shove my feelings down” and properly grieve the loss of friends and family.

Organizers say the celebration of life was for anyone who died since the pandemic began, not necessarily only people who died from COVID-19. Glenn Family Services employees say they may look into hosting another similar event again.