Dear Annie: Most people have not experienced the loss of a loved one from the COVID-19 virus. However, my father died Friday night after fighting weeks for his life. The situation was agonizing and yet our friends’ reactions to it have been a bit surreal. Here are some tips on supporting the bereaved based on what we have experienced:
Please don’t ask, “How did they catch this?” My father lived at home in a small community and was healthy otherwise. Who knows how he was exposed, and what does it matter to you?
Offer your sincere sympathy. My brother and I couldn’t be with our father while he was hospitalized, not when he was trying to make end-of-life decisions and not even when the ventilator was disconnected and he died. That added to our stress greatly. Due to the shelter-in-place order, we won’t be having a funeral service. Our father was cremated without us being able to view his body once more.
Take the extra step and send a sympathy card or text, or phone the loved ones. There is no shame in a COVID-19 death; please don’t ignore it.
Don’t say, “Let me know if you need anything.” Just do something. Drop off a homemade meal or a floral bouquet, or order a pizza to be delivered.
Most importantly, please do not say how much this pandemic has inconvenienced you, or how tired you are of the restrictions. Additionally, I don’t want to hear people’s political views. I just want to know that people are going to be safe so that they – or their loved ones – don’t have to go through this same wretched experience. – Mourning in Morton, IL
Dear Mourning: I am so sorry that this terrible disease took your father’s life. It’s always agonizing when a loved one dies, but losing someone during this pandemic presents additional heartache – not being able to be beside them in their final moments, not being able to view the body, not being able to hold a funeral or perform other important rites. And for many, it means grieving in isolation.
What an unnecessary burden to be dealing with stigmatization on top of such devastation. I hope you and your family will experience more compassion in the weeks to come.
Dear Annie: Several of the letters you have addressed in your column involve persons who are dealing with sexual urges, compulsions, etc. Mostly the letters are from wives of men who can’t seem to stay away from porn, have numerous affairs or have other sexually related problems.
I urge you to advise such people to contact Sex Addicts Anonymous at https://saa-recovery.org/iso/ for more information. The website includes a list of meetings around the country and has a lot of written material available. As a recovering sex addict whose life has been significantly improved as a result of SAA, I know the help it can bring – both to the sufferer and to his/her spouse and family. Thank you and keep up the good work. – Bruce in Tallahassee
Dear Bruce: Thank you for sharing your journey toward recovery. I’ve heard from several readers over the years who have made great progress thanks to SAA, and I’m glad to recommend it here.
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