MERI Center Blog

The First Loss

On Friday, I learned that a friend of the family died of COVID-19.  She (with her husband) was a pillar of the community and my mom volunteered in her business.  She always gave my kids cookies when they would visit and would always buy her small staff, mostly volunteers, lunch when they worked. 

While my feelings of sadness remain the same, her death feels different.  She is the first person I knew personally that has died from COVID-19.  Her death has brought the pandemic home, made it tangible, personal.  And I know this is just the beginning… I wish that knowing this made things less terrifying, but it doesn’t.

We’re trying to do everything “right”: social/physical distancing, hand washing, keeping the kids engaged and on track, trying to encourage others to do the same.  I’ve tweeted/retweeted/posted COVID articles and #stayhome ad nauseum as if somehow it would prevent or delay the inevitable.  But sadly the inevitable has arrived.  And I knew that it would, while hoping against all odds that it wouldn’t. 

Her death won’t change my day to day, but it has hammered home a few things:

  1. The importance of taking all the precautions we can to flatten the curve.
  2.  We need to do whatever we can to support & protect our healthcare workers. Their health will be a major factor in how many will people die during the pandemic – and not just from COVID-19.
  3. That we need to find ways to be resilient and sit with grief & loss. Need to make sure those on the frontlines are taking care of themselves mentally, emotionally, & physically. 
  4. We need to have frank discussions with our loved ones about our wishes for care if we are unable to make those decisions for ourselves, for the end of life.  And not just write them up as an advance health directive, but have those discussions, as hard as they might seem, so that our wishes are followed & they can understand our wishes. 

Some positive things:

  • I’m reading about small and big companies around the country pivoting to help others whether it is a dentist in Hawaii making PPE for healthcare providers or Ford & Dyson developing new vents using the parts they have in house.  With all of this talk of prioritizing economy over lives, it’s heartening to hear about helpers.
  • I’m communicating with friends more frequently than usual. 
  • My kids (11 & 14) are really independent and by the end of the summer, I’ll know that they can cook, clean, and keep themselves motivated without constant mothering.

While I say goodbye to our family friend from home, I offer her family & friends my love and support during this truly impossible time and offer to all of you my warmest wishes that you are well.  Though we must be physically distant, we are not alone.