GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As COVID-19 patients trend younger than at any point in the pandemic, loved ones of a 28-year-old Cedar Springs woman who died last week are sharing her story in hopes of getting more young people to take the virus seriously.
Rachel Siefken died April 5 at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital following a brutal battle with COVID-19.
“People look at (stories) like this and they see a face and they connect that face with COVID, but there’s so much more to Rachel than just who you see,” Siefken’s best friend Jake Allen said.
Allen said there are really no words that can accurately described his best friend, but since she’s no longer here, he’d give it his best shot.
“She is the most incredible, awesome friend, the most amazing person that I’ve ever gotten to know,” Allen said.
Allen’s fiancé Jude De Vries was also close friends with Siefken.
“She unconditionally loved everyone (and) accepted everyone,” De Vries said. “She brought our whole friend group together.”
Siefken was the lead teacher at Rockford Childcare Learning Center — a career driven by her love for kids.
“The world is definitely going to be emptier without her here,” Allen said.
Those close to Rachel are still coming to terms with what happened.
“I’m 29 years old, I shouldn’t be burying my friends at this age,” Allen said.
Siefken was one of the area’s latest and youngest COVID-19 victims. The same week of 28-year-old Siefken’s death, people who were 40, 39 and 33 also died from COVID-19 complications in Kent County.
Siefken’s friends say it all started a couple weeks earlier with what she thought was just a flare up of her seasonal asthma. She was then diagnosed with pneumonia, tested positive for COVID-19 and the complications snowballed from there.
“She ended up having a clot in her lungs and then she had a stroke as well and then she died from that,” De Vries said.
While there’s no bringing her back, Siefken’s friends are sharing her story in hopes of getting more younger people to take this pandemic seriously, saying if nothing else, do it for Siefken.
“Both of us got vaccinated this week, specifically because of what Rachel went through,” Allen said. “We don’t want that for ourselves, we don’t want that for anyone around us.”
News 8 also spoke with Siefken’s older brother about their loss and the legacy she leaves behind.
“She loved being outside … we did a lot of family camping growing up,” Joel Siefken said about his sister.
Joel Siefken said the family is overcome with grief as his parents and siblings mourn this loss.
Anyone who would like to support the family by helping with funeral expenses and other needs can donate to their GoFundMe account.