WACONIA, Minn. (WCCO) — A unique grief network is helping young adults who’ve lost a loved one to COVID-19 find hope.

Like so many, Erin Reiner of Waconia never thought her own mom would become a statistic in a worldwide pandemic.

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“I needed support, I needed others that understood what it was like to go through someone losing their life to COVID,” Reiner said.

But after months of precautions and safeguards 72-year-old Gwen Wilson got sick in January.

“The third day she was in the hospital, she was intubated and put on the ventilator. She was on that about a month before she passed,” Reiner said.

She says her grief was compounded by the pandemic.

Reiner turned to the COVID Grief Network, a free one-on-one support group working to undo the isolation for young adults grieving the COVID illness or death of a loved one.

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“There are so many support groups for other diseases that are out there, this was just so unique,” Reiner said.

Next week, she will share her mom’s story in a musical tribute. The network teams with the cast of Rent to share their “Seasons of Love” tribute to honor the lives lost.

Reiner hopes it’s a reminder to have empathy for the families like hers.

“As the world is starting to move forward, we’re not able to do so in the same way,” she said. “We don’t get to go back to normal as people are saying. We have to find our new footing, and this video is a new way to honor that.”

The Seasons of Love tribute is scheduled to be released next week on Thursday.

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If you’d like to connect to the COVID Grief Network, click here.

Liz Collin