Chicago composer honors COVID-19 victims with tribute website featuring original music

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Nationally-known Chicago composer Ira Antelis is helping people mourn the loss of their loved ones to COVID-19 with a website where they can post tributes alongside musical selections written especially to honor the victims.

"I lost my father to COVID and he was such a sweet, sweet mana, and I couldn't be there with him," said Susan Schachter. "And it's been very tough on my mother, who is now in the hospital, and my husband lost his mother to COVID in the middle of July, and then my husband lost his brother to COVID."

The pain has been unbearable.

"It's been a lot of loss in our family lately," she said. "But we're grateful for our health. We're grateful that we've had what we had with these people in our lives."

"You don't stop loving people when they die. They stay with you forever," Ira Antelis said.

Antelis's website is called WeHaveLoved.com. He set out to give these families who lost loved ones to the coronavirus some space to remember and to grieve.

"What I wanted to do was give these families, these partners, these loved ones a chance to go find a little solace, almost like a meditation," he said. "They can share an inscription of their loved one."

It's an idea somewhat reminiscent of the AIDS Quilt.

"I was just trying to attach human emotion to this. It's bigger than numbers," Antelis said.

It costs nothing to post with the original music, and Antelis makes nothing from the site. For families, it's priceless.

"I'm grateful to have a site like this If I'm feeling the need to connect. If I'm feeling the need to connect with my father's memory, to be soothed, to get some hope or to cry," Schachter said.

The loved ones select music provided on the site for their tribute, most written by Antelis and performed by him and other world-class musicians. There is also a composition by Chicago gospel great Rev. Charles Jenkins.
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