Elegy for Those We Lost

On the one-year anniversary of COVID-19, a UCLA TFT alumna remembers some of those who have left us

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization recognized COVID-19 as a pandemic. As the nation marks this sad day, we're spotlighting Elegy for Those We Lost, a memorial film by Esther Shubinski (MFA ’12).

By Esther Shubinski

Behind every picture, there is a life, a story, a face, a name. Behind every picture is an individual with a family missing them. While making Elegy for Those We Lost, we received 51 submissions. Yet this is only a fraction out of the hundreds of thousands of other families still grieving for their loved one, their father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, cousin, uncle, aunt, sister, brother, child...

This memorial is as much about honoring those we lost to COVID as the ones left behind grieving. Fifty-one families shared their stories of loss, love and pain; traumatic final moments as they said goodbye on an iPad screen, through a window pane, or did not get to say goodbye at all. America has still to declare a national day of mourning, which is why we felt the need to create a space to honor those lost, but not forgotten, when families have been deprived of their time to grieve in the traditional sense. Aaron Jay Kernis’ composition "Elegy for Those We Lost" was the inspiration for this memorial. Aaron contracted COVID and survived. The experience was so frightening that it compelled him to write a will, and "Elegy," a piano solo that captures the magnitude of the tragedy as well as the grace of life.

Behind the statistics are people we cherish. Mourning those we have lost, we are reminded that we are all one big family, with infinite love for one another. Elegy for Those We Lost is frozen in time to share the sacred moments of life we all celebrate together. We long for these moments to last forever. In the shadow of that impossible dream, stands our own frailty, as we contemplate loss, and remember the treasures of life.

Posted: March 11, 2021