Thousands of Michiganders spending holidays without loved ones lost to COVID-19

It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but in 2020 the holidays serve as a stark reminder of the reality of the coronavirus pandemic

Many families are spending their first holidays without loved ones who have died of COVID-19

The Thanksgiving decorations in one Westland neighborhood remind us the 2020 holiday season has arrived. But for Joshua Sholler, the decorations are also a heartbreaking reminder that this is the first holiday without his dad. 

Dave Sholler, 65, was Delta airlines' first employee to die from COVID-19

Dave spent 34 years working for Delta and Northwest at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. He planned to retire next year but everything changed when he got the coronavirus. Doctors were originally optimistic when he went to a hospital in March. 

"It was four hours, five hours later from when I had talked to him from when they had said, 'We might send him home the next day,' and he was on a ventilator. So that was shocking, surprising. I didn’t believe it, just how fast it turned," said Joshua. 

The United States Air Force veteran died just days later.  

Dave's family believes he contracted the coronavirus at work. His wife, Nadeen, then also got COVID-19 and spent months recovering. 

Now Joshua and his mom are among the 262,000 families across the country sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal with one less seat at the dinner table. 

"It’s trying to remember the good memories that we’ve had and you just try to hold onto those as we go about today and the next couple weeks. That’s what Mom and I are both trying to do."

Now as Joshua flips through pictures of his dad, he remembers his dedication and kind heart. 

And while Joshua says 2020 has been the hardest year of his life, he still has something to be thankful for: his family. 

"If anything to be thankful for in this crazy year, I’m thankful for the time the extra time I’ve had with my mom this year."