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Families remember lost loved ones after country hits 1 million deaths from COVID-19

Family members remember the loved ones lost to COVID-19, reminding people that the 1 million number includes one of their own.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — During the opening of the second Global COVID-19 Summit, President Joe Biden remembered the 1 million Americans who lost their lives to the virus.

WFMY News 2’s Amber Lake caught up with family members of loved ones who lost their lives due to COVID-19. That's a million people, including mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, grandparents, friends, and coworkers, all gone over the past two years. Family members are still mourning their loss. 

“I wouldn't imagine at the beginning that I will be closing the casket on my child,” said Joy Rouse. 

In October 2020, 26-year-old LaKiya Rouse became one of the millions that died from COVID-19. Her mother, Joy Rouse, said she will never be the same. 

Credit: Guilford County Sheriff's Office, WFMY News 2

“I can't pick up the phone and call my daughter. I can't text my daughter; her dad will never walk her down the aisle. We'll never see our grandchildren from her. Her niece and nephew would never know that they had the beautiful soul that she was,” Rouse continued. “It doesn't get better. People say, 'Oh, it gets better, it gets bearable. You learn to bear the loss. You learn to bear that pain.' But that pain is with you every single day.”

Rouse said what has gotten her through this loss is her faith and prayer. The same thing has gotten Bryan Coble and his family through the loss of both of their parents, Ray and Barbara Coble, just a few short months ago. 

"Mother's Day was very difficult. Father's Day is going to be very difficult," Coble said. “To lose two parents, it's really hard to describe, you know, there are some things in life, Amber, until you've experienced them firsthand, you really don't understand, and this would be one of them. So, you know, my heart goes out because I absolutely know how it feels to be in this place. And for so many people who have lost loved ones. I mean, not just parents who have lost children, they've lost, you know, lost teenagers. It's just devastating. It truly is.”

Both families wait until the day they can see their loved ones again.

“I miss them every day. I love them. But you know, I have that strong faith that I will see them again so - because I know that it's OK. I know where they are,” Coble explained.

Rouse added, “Wear your mask. You know you got to treat this thing that it's real. It's real. And I don't want you to have to go through what the Rouse family went through for you to realize, you know what COVID is real.”

In recognition of this grim milestone, President Biden has issued a proclamation, ordering flags to be flown at half staff until sunset on Monday.