Below are three full, unedited texts of stories detailing experiences with death, mourning and funerals during lockdowns and the early part of the Covid era. Please contact Covid Stories Archive if you would like to use or reproduce this essay, in whole or in part, for your research or writing. Also, please consider sharing your own stories for preservation in our archive.
Mom Dies Alone
It was March 2020 ,everything was shutdown.My Mom was fragile and I had planned to visit her knowing she was getting weaker at the age of 89.I had called her to tell her I had to cancel my plans because of the shutdown and she was in a nursing home and we weren’t allowed in.Shortly after that she got Covid though not permitted to even leave her room.She was hospitalized and after that sent back to the nursing home for palliative care(ya back to the nursing home!).She had a DNR and told us all on the phone she loved us and was ready to go.It was the most heartbreaking thing to know she was dying and NOT ONE family member was allowed to be with her!At the time funerals weren’t permitted (churches were closed,no more than 10 people allowed).It was horrible.What got me more angry than anything was seeing riots and looting then the 3 funerals with jam packed churches for George Floyd!I no longer trusted a word they said.
My 86 year old dad passed on from cancer in May 2020 in Michigan. Since there were no funerals being conducted by churches or funeral homes due to unconstitutional mandates about gathering sizes, the only option was a graveside service. The Governor of Michigan had “rules” that only 10 people could be at the gravesite for services. So, the funeral director told us the grandchildren would have to stay in parked cars watching the service. My brave 19 year old told us, “there is no way I’m staying away from my grandpa’s service! I’m getting out of the car, I don’t care what anyone says! It’s not right!” All the grandchildren were gathered at the graveside service! So proud of my son.
No Funeral For My Best Friend
Lydia, my best friend of nearly 40 years, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2015. She endured chemo, radiation, and surgery, and the doctors thought they had rid her of the cancer. But there were recurrences and further surgeries over the next four years.
Having watched her father die of lung cancer two decades earlier, in spite of doing and taking everything the doctors said, Lydia wanted no more of the “chemo-poison.” She tried natural remedies, functional medicine, dietary changes, anything she thought would buy her more time while still giving her decent quality of life.
By the end of 2019, the cancer had spread to her lungs and liver. She went on home hospice early in 2020. Lydia died in mid-March, right when “two weeks to stop the spread” kicked in. The state had already implemented restrictions on gathering sizes, so her mother was limited to a small graveside service in a tiny country cemetery. We hoped to hold a real memorial service by that summer, for her extended family and former co-workers to attend.
The graveside service lasted all of 15 minutes, with only 10 people allowed to be there. A thunderstorm formed over us; there was hardly time to say the 23rd Psalm and give a brief eulogy before we all had to run to our cars to beat the storm. (Lydia would have been amused.)
Nearly two years later, it’s clear we’ll never get to have that memorial service. The COVID gathering restrictions dragged on for months and months. Mask mandates were inflicted, removed, and inflicted again, before our vacillating governor reluctantly removed them for good. Many of Lydia’s co-workers have taken other jobs or retired. Friends have moved away.
Lydia deserved better.
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