Local family will apply for COVID-19 funeral reimbursement through FEMA

April 12 is a day that Cecilia Lawton will never forget. 

"It all still feels like a strange nightmare we can’t wake up from," Lawton said. 

Monday marks one day to the year that she lost her husband to COVID-19. 

"He was one of the first 500 that died in the State of Florida," she said. 

It was Easter Sunday. At the time, she and two of their adult children were also battling COVID-19. They were suddenly faced with grieving Marvin’s death and trying to figure out how to plan the proper goodbye in the midst of a pandemic.

"It was really hard just trying to muster all the strength between the three of us just to take care of each other, tag-teaming to get us all healthy on top of you know just trying to mourn and grieve and wrap our heads around the fact that Marvin was gone," Cecilia said. 

Like the rest of the country, this family wasn’t prepared for any of it. 

On Monday, FEMA started accepting applications to reimburse families who lost loves ones to COVID-19, up to $9,000 in funeral expenses. 

"Nothing about this was normal and I think it’s great that they’re doing that," Cecilia said. 

Last spring, Cecilia was limited in what she could plan to honor Marvin. The family hosted an online viewing through a local funeral home before having Marvin cremated. 

She’s planning an in-person memorial service their family and friends can attend this summer. And, she’ll be applying for the FEMA reimbursement. 

"It’s not going to take away the pain but at least it will give some kind of financial relief to some families who have had to make some tough decisions when they weren’t expecting," Cecilia said.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.