An unvaccinated mother of four died on Friday after a battle with COVID-19.
Samantha Willis, 35, contracted the virus while she was pregnant, giving birth to her baby, Eviegrace, and then passing from COVID-19.
She died at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, Northern Ireland, and her funeral was held at St. Columb’s Church, Londonderry, two weeks after giving birth.
At her funeral, her newborn baby, Eviegrace, followed her coffin in the procession alongside her close friends and family.
Willis never got to hold her newborn or even meet her because of the debilitating disease that has killed over 4.4 million people around the globe.
At the funeral, Joe Clifford, who ran the service, also baptized the newborn baby, saying it was the first time he had ever conducted both a funeral and baptism simultaneously. During the service, according to the Belfast Telegraph, he said it “speaks about death and life all interwoven.”
He also added: “It is sadness and joy all at the same time, but never brought together as close as this. And the joy of baptism of this new life doesn’t minimize death, but rather the sadness that brings us here all in the context of faith.”
Willis’ husband, Josh, urged people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus on Twitter.
“I spent hrs in ICU on Thur/Friday with my wife who passed away,” he tweeted. “It’s real, the numbers are real. Get your vaccine so you or your family don’t have to go through what I have had to. As I write this I am laying beside her, she is 35, unvaccinated and in a coffin. Let that sink in!’
Users on Twitter sent condolences in their replies, telling Josh they were sending prayers and love for his family.
“So sorry for your loss, heartbreaking reality,” wrote one user, who said they were praying for the family.
While most tweets shared sentiments of grief, others related to the shocking tragedy because of their own loss during the pandemic.
“I lost my unvaccinated 42 yr old twin, 4 weeks ago,” wrote someone else. “It’s utterly heartbreaking.”
Josh, who runs a supply firm, posted a moving tribute on Facebook to honor his late wife, calling the tragedy “the worst day of his life.”
“Samantha had put up a strong fight for the last 16 days but in the end just wasn’t enough,” he wrote. “All I want to do now is make Samantha proud. I’m sure she’s already looking down and proud of how we are coping. We are also proud of her, she was a wonderful, loving and caring person and she has been our super hero the last few weeks. She is now our guardian angel and she will remain in our hearts and thoughts for ever more.”
He continued: “I will make sure that Eviegrace will know all about the mother she will never meet. I will never let anyone forget you and I will remember all the special times and experiences we shared together.”
A GoFundMe has been created to support her family, which has now raised nearly £5,000.
According to the GoFundMe, Willis had no underlying health conditions, and was perfectly healthy until she contracted COVID-19. She battled the virus for 16 days until she eventually passed.
She is survived by her husband, Josh, her son, Shéa, and her daughters Eviegrace, Holly and Lilyanna.
Her death comes as COVID-19 cases and deaths are on the rise in Northern Ireland. According to the Belfast Telegraph, some hospitals are at full capacity, with some over capacity.
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