KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One year into the pandemic, many families are still coping with the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19.
One woman is leading a new support group while grieving her own personal loss.
Brooke Jiskra recalled the early months of the pandemic.
“We stopped going to church in person, we didn’t do anything, we just stayed here kind of hunkered down,” she said of her family’s experience.
As the calendar turned to the holidays, her sister Nicki was hospitalized with COVID-19 the day before Thanksgiving.
“Bubbly as can be, and healthy, and just 45 years of age,” Jiskra said of her sister.
She couldn't visit her sister at the hospital.
“I spent almost three weeks outside in the cold of December of the hospital, just trying to see which window was hers so I could be closer to her,” Jiskra said.
Nicki died on Dec. 17.
“I know losing a loved one is never easy, but anybody that has gone through these terrible experiences of losing someone to COVID-19, or even just during the pandemic. It is so heightened. The amount of grief becomes greater,” Jiskra said.
Questions swirling in her head after the loss led her to start a support group.
“Are we alone? Are we the only ones in Kansas City that have lost this loved one at a young age? I still ask myself that often, and that's why I started this group called Healing Hope KC,” she said.
Through a new Facebook page, Jiskra created a digital support group, sending personal messages to its 33 members as they share their journeys, together.
“We have to be thankful for the good days…because we never know when the wave of grief will come roaring in,” one comment from Jiskra reads.
She knows this isn’t a temporary solution.
“There is no getting back to normal, and so, this group is not just a short-term thing for the pandemic. I see this as a lifetime of connections,” Jiskra said.
As Jiskra navigates her new normal with her new community, she carries Nicki with her every day, with some of her ashes inside a necklace she wears.
“I truly feel like she’s right on my heart and she’s with me every second of my day," she said. “Her spirit will never leave me.”
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