TOWN OF OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — This past year has created staggering challenges for those with COVID-19 and their families.

So many people have passed away, some relatives never got to say goodbye to their loved ones.

Meanwhile, health care workers have been at the frontlines of the battle.

Nursing manager Djimmitry Jeanlouis was honored Monday for his courage leading Northwell Syosset Hospital’s COVID floor over the past year.

“I have 80 staff members. I had to get them on board, put their fear to the side,” he said. “And I also had to be a father, a husband at home.”

Jeanlouis and wife Nadege, both registered nurses with Northwell, could not save all in their care.

“A wife that was crying because she had to deal with so many COVID patients, seeing people dying left and right. It brought us together, also made us realize why we came into this profession,” he said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The Town of Oyster Bay and Northwell Health honored the thousands of Jeanlouis’ frontline colleagues Monday.

“We thank you for being there and for sacrificing so much in what may be the greatest time of need in this nation,” said Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino.

“It’s just so overwhelming. You have no time to think about it when you’re in the thick of it, until you go home,” Northwell Health Plainview Hospital respiratory therapist Veronica Van Laere said.

The pandemic anniversary can be triggering in multiple ways for both health care workers and families of COVID victims. Exercise and meditation can help and, they say, joining online support groups.

Avaleigh Allison and her family have been struggling since Thanksgiving when her grandfather, 52-year-old Suffolk County Sheriff Investigator Sgt. Keith Allison, never made it out of the hospital.

“He was a very humble man. He would never say no,” she said.

“Childhood sweethearts,” his wife, Brenda Allison, added. “We spent 36 years together… His heart and passion were always for his community.”

COVID VACCINE

“When we grieve, we need to have the community around us,” said Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco.

The COVID Memorial of Suffolk County, built by the Boy Scouts, is a place for survivors to be able to share in public support.

“That’s what gives us our strength now,” said Brenda Allison.

Hints of hope in the ongoing pandemic fight.

Jennifer McLogan